50 years of First Ladies' style: Inaugural ball gowns through the years

With President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration just days away, many are speculating, watching and waiting to see what soon-to-be First Lady Melania Trump will wear to the Inaugural Ball. There's reportedly a several designers in the running, but the latest rumors point to Ralph Lauren and possibly Karl Lagerfeld. But which will dress her for the day, and which for the evening? We'll see on January 20th.

The First Lady's Inaugural Ball gown is always widely reported on and critiqued, and for good reason. It's her first major style statement in her new role, and it often has significance behind it.

Michelle Obama's gown in 2009, for example, was a pure white flowing Jason Wu dress, and was widely applauded for perfectly representing the platform of hope that her husband ran on. It has been called one of the most successful Inauguration gowns of all time.

Michelle Obama and Barack Obama at the 2009 Inauguration inaugural ball
Michelle Obama and Barack Obama at the 2009 Inauguration inaugural ball

Rosalynn Carter's gown was much talked-about, too. She chose to re-wear a Mary Matise dress bought off the rack, one she'd worn twice before -- including her husband's inauguration as Governor of Georgia. The Carters were known to be frugal, and as many in the country were struggling financially that year, it was seen as a nod to the American people.

So how did other First Ladies make this ever-important first style statement? From Jackie Kennedy to Hillary Clinton, the fashion choices of these women have long carried significance. See below for the last 50 years of First Lady style.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Melania's dress will be sure to catch the attention of the world. What do you think she should wear?