Inaugural Style

Who should be crowned the First Lady of fashion? The debate rages on, and no doubt the 2013 inaugural will fuel the discussion.  Need a recap? Let's go to the pictures

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Mamie Eisenhower, 1957

Resplendent in fur, Mamie Eisenhower surprised (some would say shocked) onlookers when she and her President-elect husband engaged in a post-inaugural ceremony kiss, something that had allegedly never been done before. 

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, 1961

Early 60's style rules dictated dark suits for ladies, but Jackie bucked the trend and went with a pale Oleg Cassini ensemble, edged in sable. It was very cold that year—there had been a blizzard in Washington just the night before the inauguration—so Jackie opted for gloves AND a fur muff.

Popperfoto/Getty Images

Lady Bird Johnson, 1963

Lady Bird's choice of red was strong and cheery, and there's no denying she stood out in the crowd. She went on to don a yellow, satin gown and matching top coat for the ball that evening, and received high praise for her choice.

Pat Nixon, 1969

It has been reported that when Richard Nixon told his wife he was running for President--his 8th shot at public office--Pat was unenthused at the thought of another greuling campaign. However, she rallied, and proved a valuable asset to her husband. Not considered a fashion plate, she went with a bold cranberry coat for the big day and looked just great.

Pat Nixon, 1973

When her husband was reelected, Pat chose a teal coat with a dramatic fur collar. Is it just us or is the shade close to Democrat blue?

Betty Ford, 1974

Gerald Ford's better half was criticized by some Republican party big wigs for being too liberal--she favored social programs and women's rights--but she maintained high public approval ratings none the less. Her fashion choices? Chic but simple.

Courtesy of Newsmakers/National Archives

Rosalynn Carter, 1977

The country was eager to see what this southern bell would bring to Washington, fashion-wise, and it was a mix of pastel hues, feminine styles and...boots. Her long, teal coat worn for the inauguration was deemed plain by many, but most came to understand that it spoke to her (and her husband's) regular-folk sensibility.

Everett Collection

Nancy Reagan, 1981

There's no question that this Hollywood duo loved the glamour, and Nancy was known (and reviled by many) for her penchant for spending. Favoring designer clothes exclusively--regulars included Adolfo, Bill Blass and Galanos--she wore one particular hue so much that it was actually referred to as "Nancy Reagan red."

Nancy Reagan, 1985

OK, so maybe she didn't ALWAYS wear red. This cobalt number was a huge departure, and won her high marks among the fashion elite. Some thought the pillbox hat was a page taken out of the Jackie Kennedy play book, and we'd have to agree.

Everett Collection

Barbara Bush, 1989

Barbara Bush was beloved for many reasons, but for her personal style? Not so much. She favored lots of boxy suits, like the one, and her signature choker pearls (yet another Jackie Kennedy homage).

Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution

Hillary Clinton, 1993

It's hard to look at this photograph and not page through the many visual incarnations of Hillary Clinton. This was the first time she stepped onto the world stage, and fashion critics were harsh: the red and white checked suit, the wide-brim hat, the dark hose, all panned. And it was just the beginning...

Doug Mills/Associated Press

Hillary Clinton, 1997

Four years later for her husband's second inaugural, Hillary opted for a salmon swing coat that flattered her skin tone and suited her frame. The designer? Oscar de la Renta.

Greg Gibson/Associated Press

Laura Bush, 2001

Laura Bush chose a long, blue coat that emphasized her slender frame for her husband's first inaugural. It's often quite cold in Washington in January, and one wonders if there will come a time when the First Lady can opt for, say, PANTS in order to keep warm. 

Laura Bush, 2005

The second time's the charm: For her husband's second inaugural Laura Bush was a vision in white...a color never worn before by a First Lady for this occasion. Impractical? Yup. Glamorous? Absolutely.

Matt Campbell/epa/Corbis

Michelle Obama, 2009

The color was termed lemongrass; the designer was Cuban-American Isabel Toledo. The ensemble, which featured a dress and matching coat, also included a sweater worn underneath, allegedly added at the last minute once frigid temperatures were predicted. This would be the start of nothing short of a world obsession regarding Mrs. Obama's fashion choices.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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