Money surrounding her wardrobe is precisely what got Nancy Reagan into a spot of trouble.
Having been married to President Ronald Reagan, who enjoyed a glitzy and glamourous Hollywood career prior to his 1981 to 1989 presidency, since 1952, Reagan was known for being quite image-conscious.
As such, her extravagant outfits were heavily scrutinised, largely because over the eight years her husband was in office, she accepted roughly US$1 million (approx. $1.85 million now) of designer clothing that she did not pay for.
Reportedly, White House lawyers suggested Reagan monitor the price of her clothing, particularly when she was not paying for them herself. They said gifts in the form of US$50,000 (approx. $223,000 now) suits from Adolfo or gowns are not things that should show up in the annual presidential financial report, and they also advised her to turn these gifts down.
In 1978, the Ethics in Government Act made it mandatory for high-ranking officials to report gifts, any and all, above US$35 (approx. $50) in value. Reagan tried to make her gifts less frowned-upon by donating the clothing to museums, but that backfired and instead made her the subject of intense public criticism, largely due to the price of her high-end clothing.
Then, in October of 1988, it was reported by The Washington Post that secretly, Reagan had been borrowing multiple US$2000 (approx. $4000 now) Adolfo suits and US$22,000 (approx. $75,300 now) Galanos gowns without reporting them.
Tax experts said she could be found guilty of evading taxes on ‘taxable income’ – which is what the dresses were seen as they could not be classified as gifts due to their extreme price or loans because the return status was in doubt – but designers and Reagan clarified that the clothing was given to her on the understanding they were “loans.”