The Quick 10: 10 First Lady Fashion Faux Pas

Michelle Obama is both lauded and disparaged for her fashion choices, especially her recent decision to wear (gasp) shorts while riding Air Force One. But she's hardly the first to choose outfits a little outside of the norm for a First Lady. Here are 10 FLOTUSes (FLOTI?) before her who shocked the nation with their fashion faux pas"¦ or were they just fashion forward?

1. Frances Cleveland was much younger than her Presidential husband "“ 27 years younger, to be exact. So, it makes sense that her fashions were a bit more youthful than a lot of her female White House peers: she wore gowns that showed a lot of skin for the times and loved to show off her bare neck, shoulders and arms. The nation loved Frances and scads of young women copied her scandalously bare look, much to the chagrin of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. They drew up a petition and had copies sent to various branches, then circulated the petitions across the country in an attempt to get Mrs. Cleveland to please think about her position as a role model for young ladies. Their pleas went ignored.

photo12. Frances was hardly the first to expose the nation to a wicked amount of décolletage, though. That trend goes all the way back to Mary Todd Lincoln (pictured). Abe's wife absolutely adored shopping and racked up a huge debt on clothes, lots of them showing off her ample assets. Lincoln didn't appreciate this. "Mother, it is my opinion, if some of that tail were nearer the head, it would be in better style," he once said. She also liked to wear flowers on her head, but not a subtle bloom tucked behind the ear "“ she wore such copious amounts that at least on one occasion, a senator remarked to his wife that Mrs. Lincoln saw it fit to festoon her head with a flower pot.

3. We can keep going back to First Ladies who were fond of exposing a little bosom "“ or in the case of Dolley Madison, a lot. Dolley used to be a Quaker, so the expanse of bare skin that she liked to show was especially scandalous for her. First Lady Abigail Adams once wrote in a letter that Dolley unabashedly resembled "a nursing mother." There's a story that Dolley ran across an old friend who had also been a Quaker, but left the faith. Nevertheless, she was surprised to see him without the traditional black hat that Quakers once wore, and remarked with, "Brother, where is thy broadbrim?" The friend is reported to have looked rather pointedly at her cleavage before responding, "Sister, where is thy kerchief?"

4. Jackie Kennedy and Eleanor Roosevelt and Lady Bird Johnson all wore pants on informal occasions such as horse riding, but it wasn't until 1972 and Pat Nixon that a First Lady actually appeared in a formal magazine picture proudly donning what was formerly thought of as strictly menswear.

5. Long before Obama outraged PETA with his fly-swatting, Ida McKinley upset the Audubon Society with a certain accessory she was fond of. It was an ornamental display of feathers called an aigrette, and she wasn't the only one who loved it "“ American ladies so took to the style that the bird the feathers came from, the egret, became endangered. The Audubon Society issued a formal protest against Ida.

6. Eleanor Roosevelt was always on the go and wasn't much concerned about her appearance or being a fashion plate. It wasn't abnormal for her to show up somewhere with a net around her hair or a white scarf tied around it, which some reporters said looked like a rag.

photo27. When Rosalynn Carter reused a gown for her husband's Presidential Inauguration in 1977, people immediately began talking. How dare she wear an old gown for such a formal occasion "“ how disrespectful of the Presidency! But she was really just being practical and didn't like spending the money for a one-time-use dress. That's Rosalynn, Amy, and the gown in the picture to the left.

8. Mamie Eisenhower loved clothes, and she loved pink. Barbie would have felt perfectly at home in the White House during Ike's two terms, because Mamie decked the place out with pink candles and pink tablecloths and even served pink desserts at formal functions when she could get away with it. With tongues firmly in cheeks, the press dubbed the White House "The Pink Palace" for eight years, until the Kennedys came along to undo all of Mamie's Pepto décor.

9. As a lady of the Victorian Era, it would have been strange if Julia Grant had worn anything but the elaborately decorated dresses and gowns of the era. But she preferred her outfits so dripping with beads, embroidery, lace and ribbons that she was once described as looking like a couch.

10. Finally, my favorite that I can't seem to find corroboration for anywhere. Maybe you helpful _flossers will remember this event. Apparently, the First Lady Who Said No unwittingly exposed the entire world to her lingerie when she wore black underwear with a white dress. Even if this isn't so, Nancy Reagan did set tongues wagging when she wore an inaugural gown worth a reported $25,000, and continued to wear extravagantly expensive clothing throughout her tenure as FLOTUS. She always denied spending extraordinary sums on her attire, saying that to spend the amount the press said she spent, she'd have to be wearing sable underwear.

Are there any First Lady fashion faux pas that immediately come to mind for you? Share them in the comments! This seems hideous to me today, but I do have to remember that this photo was taken during the era of Blossom and funky headwear:


You can follow Stacy Conradt on Twitter.

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.



More from mental floss studios