The inauguration of our 45th president is right around the corner, and it’s expected to be one of the most crowded in history, political associations notwithstanding. So what exactly does one wear to an event where, understandably, fashion won’t be top of mind? To find out and get a dose of old-school inspiration, we revisited the '90s archives, honing in on Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration and subsequent swearing-in after being reelected in 1997.
Sadly, street style was not quite a thing yet (excluding the work of the late, great Bill Cunningham, whose archives are not online), but what we did find paints a picture of fairly casual comfort. For those in the audience (we see you, Oprah), that meant hoodies, baggy denim, and puffer coats in poppy colors, or boxy menswear blazers and patterned scarves. Sunglasses were also key to ward off that bright winter light.
Notables like Hillary and Chelsea Clinton opted for slightly sharper options—a slew of tailored coats and skirts with blazers in creamy pastels and the always-chic black or navy, occasionally topped off with a glimmering brooch or silk scarf. When it came to performers at the events—a gold mine that included LL Cool J, Aretha Franklin, and Diana Ross—the two styles were expertly mixed, as evidenced by Ross’s layering of a red puffer coat over her bright blue ball gown.
Our takeaway? The '90s may be over, but opting for easy layers and warm basics is your best bet. If that feels far too dull for a moment when self-expression is key, use louder accessories to spice things up and stake your personal style claim.
Scroll down to check out our favorite photos from the inaugural events of the '90s.
This unexpected pairing on Diana Ross is iconic.
Audience members mix casual separates in both muted and punchy tones.
Hi Geena Davis! We love your shades.
Take a cue from these revelers and whip out that boxy blazer you stole from your mom's closet.
Would you expect anything less from Aretha Franklin than a show-stopping fur?
Navy blue was popular with both Hillary Clinton and Tipper Gore at the '93 Inauguration.
Oprah makes a case for all brown everything.
This Hillary outfit totally stands the test of time.
Will you be attending the inauguration this year? Let us know in the comments!