PHOTOS: A Look Back At Betty Ford’s Liberated Sense Of Style

Former First Lady Betty Ford, who died Friday at the age of 93, wasn’t a style icon in the same sense that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was or Michelle Obama is. But she was, undoubtedly, a woman of her time who used her clothes to represent who she was: a liberated, opinionated and straightforward woman, unafraid to say what she meant.

Ford, perhaps best remembered for establishing the Betty Ford Center after her own bouts with alcohol and prescription drug addiction, once joked that she wished her husband Gerald Ford‘s approval rating was as high as hers. People loved her refreshing candor, which she displayed when she talked openly about premarital sex, legalizing abortion, the equal rights amendment (which she proudly supported) and marijuana. She once even caused a minor scandal when she announced on television that she and the president planned to sleep in the same bed.

Her style reflected this sensibility — she got married to the future president not in a white dress and veil, but in a dark silk suit and hat. Because she never knew when she’d have to dance on a conference table or cut a rug with a Chinese dance troupe, she favored clothing that was easy to move around in. Ford was the most politically active First Lady of her time, and her wardrobe, as you’ll see below, was part and parcel of what made her so powerful and so well-loved.

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