23 Photos Show The Evolving Style Choices By First Ladies On Inauguration Days

A sampling of the hats, coats and gowns that have marked the ceremonies for more than 100 years.

When there isn’t a global pandemic and threats from domestic terrorists, the presidential inauguration is typically something looked forward to in the United States.

The fresh beginnings of a new administration, or another term for a reelected one, is full of pomp and circumstance in Washington ― as well as all sorts of intriguing fashion choices. Donald Trump’s inauguration four years ago offered plenty of head-turning looks (Kellyanne Conway’s cat coat comes to mind).

Over the years, first ladies have donned big hats, beautiful coats and stunning ball gowns to ring in inauguration day. Michelle Obama’s inaugural ball gowns were unforgettable, and Jackie Kennedy’s pillbox hat became iconic.

Ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, here’s a look at some first-lady-inauguration-day fashion, dating as far back as 1897. And then stay tuned to see which elements of Jill Biden’s personal style she chooses to put on display for the event.

Helen Herron Taft
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Helen Herron Taft accompanies husband William Howard Taft on the ride to his inauguration in 1909.
Edith Wilson
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Edith Wilson smiles as she and husband Woodrow Wilson ride in the inaugural parade after he was sworn in for a second term in 1917.
Florence Harding
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(Left to right) Warren G. Harding, wife Florence Harding, Grace Coolidge and husband Calvin Coolidge arrive at the 1921 inauguration. Harding was sworn in as president, Coolidge as vice president.
Grace Coolidge
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The Coolidges leave the White House for the 1925 inauguration, at which he was sworn in for a full term after succeeding to the presidency when Harding died in 1923.
Eleanor Roosevelt
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Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and son James Roosevelt pose on March 4, 1933, the first of four times the elder Roosevelt took the oath for president. The Constitution's 20th Amendment moved the 1937 inauguration for his second term to Jan. 20 and established that as the date for the ceremony.
Mamie Eisenhower
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Mamie Eisenhower shows off the gown she wore for inaugural balls in 1953.
Jacqueline Kennedy
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Jacqueline Kennedy, wearing one of the pillbox hats that became a signature look for her, poses for photos with husband John F. Kennedy as he prepared to be inaugurated in 1961. Washington had been buffeted by a heavy snowstorm the day before, but the sun shined brightly as he took the oath.
Pat Nixon
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Pat Nixon stands with husband Richard Nixon during his 1969 inauguration. To the right of the couple is Nixon's vice president, Spiro Agnew. After their ticket won a second term in 1972, both men resigned their offices in disgrace.
Betty Ford
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Betty Ford stands in front of husband Gerald Ford on his inauguration day, Aug. 9, 1974. Ford took office immediately after Nixon's resignation.
Rosalynn Carter
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Rosalynn Carter prepares for husband Jimmy Carter's inaugural parade in 1977.
Nancy Reagan
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Nancy Reagan, known for her preference for the color red, joins husband Ronald Reagan in waving to supporters during his 1981 inauguration.
Nancy Reagan
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The couple at one of 1981's many inaugural balls.
Barbara Bush
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Barbara Bush and husband George H. W. Bush hold hands during his 1989 inaugural parade.
Hillary Cliinton
Bill Clinton hugs wife Hillary Clinton and their daughter Chelsea Clinton after he took the oath of office in 1993.
Hillary Clinton
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The couple dancing at the 1993 inaugural ball hosted by their then-home state of Arkansas.
Hillary Clinton
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The couple leaves the national prayer service ahead of Clinton's second inauguration in 1997.
Laura Bush
Reuters Photographer / Reuters
Laura Bush was awash in blue as she walked with husband George W. Bush in the 2001 inaugural parade.
Laura Bush
Reuters Photographer / Reuters
The new first lady acknowledges supporters at one of the 2001 inaugural balls.
Michelle Obama
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Michelle Obama and husband Barack Obama depart the Blair House in Washington en route to his 2009 inauguration. The ceremony drew an estimated 1.8 million people to the National Mall, by far the largest crowd to attend the swearing-in event.
Michelle Obama
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The couple arrives at one of the 2009 inaugural balls.
Michelle Obama
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The couple waves to fans along the parade route after Obama had been inaugurated for his second term in 2013.
Michelle Obama
JEWEL SAMAD via Getty Images
The couple attends one of 2013's inaugural balls. As she had four years earlier, the first lady wore a dress designed by Jason Wu that drew plaudits from the fashion world.
Melania Trump
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The outgoing first lady guides Melania Trump on a red carpet at the White House the morning of Donald Trump's 2017 inauguration.

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