See How First Lady Fashion Has Evolved Over the Past 80 Years

These First Ladies had grace and style that was indicative of the time. See historical photos of some of the most iconic First Lady dresses, suits, and more.

March 16, 2016
By: Briana Finelli

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Photo By: Bettmann

Photo By: Bettmann

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Though Eleanor Roosevelt was known for her activism more than her style, the tall (she was 6'0"!) and elegant first lady looked lovely in this white Sally Milgrim gown. Her statement necklace was indicative of the period's love for chunky jewelry.

Bess Truman is sporting several trends with this patterned gown. The embroidery, the tea-length hem, and the embellishment at the hip were very fashionable at this time.

After World War II, women went back to more feminine silhouettes. Bess Truman's polka dot dress and smart hat are on-trend for the late 1930s.

Mamie Eisenhower looks like the belle of the inaugural ball (her husband's second) in this gorgeous lemon gown. The princess silhouetted dress includes citron lace over taffeta, and the entire thing is embroidered in tiny pearls, iridescent soft yellow crystal drops and translucent topaz.

Mamie Eisenhower was sitting pretty in this photo taken in Augusta, Georgia. Note the more open neckline, which was popular at the time, and the full skirt, which was finishing out its reign as the chosen silhouette and making way for more form-fitting dresses.

Mrs. John F. Kennedy attended her husband's inaugural ball in a gorgeous white Oleg Cassini gown with a embellishment bodice.

First Lady Jackie Kennedy is credited with making women in the White House more fashion-forward. This fitted silk apricot dress and triple strand of pearls screams 1960s fashion.

First Lady Jackie Kennedy rocks a classic 60s sheath, with a drawstring waistline, long white gloves, and a very on-trend hair accessory.

Lady Bird Johnson loved solid colors and classic cuts, and this scarlet coat, with its black ribbon accent, could still be appropriate for First Ladies today.

Here, after office, Lady Bird Johnson showcases her signature style with bright-colored shift and coat with animal print accents.

For the Inaugural Ball, Pat Nixon models her "mimosa yellow" Harvey Berin gown. The dress was made of double-faced silk satin, and included a defined waist, bell-shaped skirt, and Byzantine scrolls of gold and silver bouillon that were embellished with hand-set Swarovsky jewels.

Enter the classic First Lady suit. Like those before her, and many after, Roslyn Carter keeps things low-key with this houndstooth suit, that's both appropriate and flattering.

Nancy Reagan never met a red dress she didn't like, and the puffy sleeves and bow at the waist scream '80s fashion.

Another fashionable first lady, Nancy Reagan showcases her bold style (she wore lots of red in the White House) with this long-sleeved patterned gown.

Barbara Bush attends a charity event in what can only be summed up as a "totally '80s" outfit. With the puffy sleeves, sheer overlay and tiered skirt, she was definitely pulling in several trends. And, of course, she finished the outfit off with her signature strand of pearls.

Before she began wearing colorful pantsuits, Hillary Clinton wowed guests at the Arkansas inaugural ball with this long-sleeved eggplant gown that included intricate embroidery, sequins, and a train!

Hillary Clinton attends a state dinner in a not-so-basic black gown that includes illusion netting and tiered ruffles, which were very popular during the '90s.

During her husband's second inauguration, Laura Bush opted for a sparkling -- and very fashionable -- silvery long-sleeved gown with a flattering front slit.

Michelle Obama will definitely go down as one of the more fashion-forward First Ladies. She kicked off her husband's first inauguration party in a white silk chiffon Jason Wu gown embellished with organza flowers with Swarovski crystal centers. Pretty stunning, right?

Michelle Obama brought a lot of color -- and new designers -- to the White House. Here, this fit-and-flare printed yellow coat and metallic belt were a bold way to make an entrance while visiting Japan.

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