First lady Michelle Obama takes the stage during day one of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 4, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong—Getty Images
January 19, 2017 6:42 PM EST

During her time as the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama‘s wardrobe has been more than just a series of pretty dresses, functioning instead as a way to relate to everyone from fellow nations to the American public. Sleeveless sheaths, classic cardigans, and stunning gowns made her a fashion favorite. But she also chose young, up-and-coming American designers of color like Tracy Reese as well as designers from relevant countries for events. Early on, she emerged as a the rare First Lady to routinely wear affordable off-the-rack choices from everyday retailers like J. Crew and Asos with pride.

What the First Lady wears really does matter, so with that in mind, see 35 of the most influential looks she’s sported during the past eight years below.

Write to Cady Lang at

Read More From TIME

Related Stories