Little Edie: From Riches To Rags And The Style In Between

Historically overshadowed by their more famous kin, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, socialites Edith Bouvier Beale and her mother (more famously known as "Little Edie" and "Big Edie", respectively) lived a beautifully gilded life... until they didn't. The Beales spent their summers in a gorgeous Hamptons mansion, dubbed Grey Gardens, entertaining family and friends with their eccentric personalities and charming living-room performances. Singing and dancing was a favorite way of communication between the mother-daughter pair; the classic Broadway number "Tea for Two" echoed within the walls of the posh mansion that would eventually become a national scandal and a disturbing vision. A crippling economy, the death of Big Edie's father in 1948, and her absent husband left the Beale girls with a measly sum of $65,000 to maintain their lavish lifestyle for the next couple decades. Despite Little Edie's hopeful dreams of modeling and performing, she was drawn back to her mother and the crippling codependency they shared time after time, eventually finding herself framed against the haunting image of Grey Gardens left in shambles. Wandering cats, raccoons, animal and human feces, human-sized piles of liter, newspaper, broken fixtures, and the absence of heat and electricity were amongst the living conditions in which the women resided for years. 

Photograph by Tom Wargacki

The Beales made headlines following a forced inspection by county officials in 1971. These headlines reached the eyes and ears of first cousin Jackie O' who intervened and funded the restoration of Grey Gardens. National attention would lead to a documentary starring Little Edie and Big Edie and a more recent film featuring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. Both works capture the resilient spirits and nostalgic hearts of the women, as well as Little Edie's timeless style. Colorful head scarves, a fur coat, and a famous gold brooch were staples in Little Edie's closet that were featured in many of what Little Edie called her "costume of the day". Little Edie was an elegant spectacle walking around an eroding home of shocking filth, reminding us that unlike material riches, style is forever. Shop Little Edie's style below.