Happy Birthday, Hillary! A Tribute to Hillary Clinton’s Style Evolution, from Skirt Suit to Pantsuit

Young Hillary Clinton in a white shirt and striped pants wearing glasses

Dedicating her life to the service of this country, we have seen the style evolution of our current Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, since she was a young college student. From being a trailblazer at Wellesley who wore flared pants and ’70s styled glasses and became the face of a generation with her now famous commencement address to her time as First Lady of Arkansas and later of the United States, from her work in the senate on behalf of New York and later in the Obama administration as Secretary of State, Clinton has lived under public scrutiny for nearly 50 years, drawing both criticism and praise for decisions large and small. She once quipped, “If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle.” All the while, she’s lived by her own rules, a strong woman who’s just as likely to pull a pantsuit from her closet as she is designs by her friends Donna Karan and the late Oscar de la Renta. Now, she is finishing up what’s looking like a presidential victory lap in a revamped pantsuit by Ralph Lauren. In celebration of her birthday, see how her style has evolved over the few decades.

June 1969
The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

At the top of her class at Wellesley College, Hillary organized a two-day strike after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and became the first student to give her university’s commencement speech. Here she’s pictured as the collegiate hipster wearing 70’s styled glasses, a white button-up blouse and high-waist stripped trousers.

October 1992

While supporting the presidential campaign of Bill in 1992, the Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary was pictured here at his rally wearing a purple skirt suit that will soon become her staple look during her husband’s presidency.

May 1995
AFP/Getty Images

At the Arkansas Inaugural Ball following the inauguration of President Bill Clinton, the first lady looked stunning as she danced with her husband wearing a purple embellished Sarah Phillips gown.

February 1993
Boston Globe via Getty Images
May 1993
The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
November 1994

Princess Diana and Hillary Clinton

April 1994
Getty Images
January 1993
AFP/Getty Images

The first lady wore a blush pink skirt suit at the opening ceremonies of an exhibit of the 20th century art at the White House. Her Jackie O-inspired look featured gold buttons, a gold chain belt, gold stud earring, a pearl choker and bracelet.

February 1997
Tim Graham/Getty Images

The first lady paid her respects to the late Princess Diana in attending her funeral at Westminster Abbey. Although the devastating occasion calls for an all black ensemble, Hillary opted for a very chic skirt suit look that she paired with a black velvet hat, black gloves and a pearl necklace and matching earrings.

September 1997
The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

At the 1997 Grammy Awards, where Hillary accepted her Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album, she posed on the red carpet in a long sleeved gold Oscar de la Renta gown. The shiny gold lace sleeved top and taffeta skirt made Hillary look elegant and chic.

June 2002
AFP/Getty Images

For the 200th Anniversary White House Dinner, the first lady wore a very regal gold long-sleeved gown. She kept the focus on her gown by keeping her accessories very minimal and just wearing Diamond earring and a thin bracelet.

April 2001

The 2001 Met Gala

November 2000

Senator Clinton, now the first First Lady to ever become elected to a public seat, wore a teal silk Oscar de la Renta to the 21st Annual CFDA Awards with the designer. The statement sleeves featured on her gown have become a trend that we continuously see on the runway.

August 2008
AFP/Getty Images

Stepping into a bolder direction, Clinton took the 2008 Democratic National convention in a controversial orange pantsuit. The media notably referenced this look as “the world’s famous pantsuit” because of it’s similar color association with inmate prison uniforms.

November 2008
Getty Images

Hillary looked stunning as she posed on the red carpet of the 19th Annual GLAMOUR Women o f The Year Awards. She opted for a glamourous brown silk mid-sleeved gown that featured a color and cinched waist – completing her look with a wide crystal necklace, diamond bracelets and a gold shiny clutch box.

September 2009

At the NY400 week kickoff, the Secretary of State welcomed Dutch royals in a very elegant black suit with white trimming. She completed her look with crystal necklace, earrings and a power red lip.

August 2012
AFP/Getty Images

Clinton looked chic in an all blue pantsuit with white buttons as she arrived in Entebbe for her seven-nation Africa tour. The tour focused on Obama’s administration’s new Africa strategy of promoting development by stimulating economic growth while advancing peace and security and strengthening democracy.

June 2013
Getty Images

While attending the CFDA Fashion Awards in 2013 with dear friend Oscar de la Renta, Clinton wore a navy blue jacket and pant look from the designer. She took the stage with Mr. De la Renta as he accepted his Founder’s Award that evening.

October 2013
Getty Images for Michael Kors

Anna Wintour and Hillary Clinton in Michael Kors.

April 2015
AFP/Getty Images

In 2015 Clinton spent a couple of days in Iowa participating in small business roundtable discussion with members of the small business community. While she discussed how to make the economy work for everyday Americans she still looked chic dressed in a hunter green monochromatic pantsuit.

March 2016
Getty Images
October 2016
Getty Images

Hillary went bold and bright for her look at the first U.S. presidential debate. Wearing a red custom Ralph Lauren pant suit she took the stage with opponent Donald Trump and not only looked powerful, but commanded the stage in the same manner.

September 2016
Getty Images

For the second presidential debate, Hillary opted for a timeless Ralph Lauren navy and cream shawl-collar pant suit. This chic interpretation of her iconic pantsuit looks balances the idea of femininity and power.

October 2016
Getty Images

Wearing yet another custom Ralph Lauren suit, Hillary gravitated towards a collarless white crisp look for the final presidential debate – similar to the one she wore to accept the nomination for the Democratic party.