Like it or not, Melania Trump will be remembered as one of the best dressed First Ladies in American history. Her stylist, Hervé Pierre, has done a masterful job at creating memorable outfits for her various public engagements in the US and around the world. Even when her fashion choices have been off message and tone-deaf – remember the “I really don’t care” Zara jacket ? – she still managed to look impeccable and steal the limelight from foreign dignitaries and fellow first ladies like Brigitte Macron and Peng Liyuan. Before moving to the White House, however, her fashion sense was a far cry from the calculated image of the chic Melania Trump we’ve come to know during her White House years. See every outfit Melania has worn on Donald Trump’s Asia tour Melania had been a successful model before meeting Donald Trump in New York in the late 1990s – they married in 2005 – so she knew a thing or two about fashion. Her personal style, however, was a bit more ostentatious, even risqué, back then. As these outfits that predate her husband’s political career demonstrate, Melania always knew how to look fabulous, but it was only after Trump took office that she shed her image as a flashy socialite and mastered the rules of chic dressing. Back when she was known as Melania Knauss, the Slovenia-born model cut a striking figure in a sequinned strapless column gown in lilac at a social event in New York in the early 2000s. For one of her first public appearances with Donald Trump in 1999 at the 18th Annual Council of Fashion Designers of America awards in New York, Melania wore a slip dress in black silk that accentuated her svelte figure. It’s not often you see Melania in colourful prints, but she chose a floral-patterned dress for an event to celebrate the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in New York in 2000. This white fur coat, which Melania wore in New York in the early 2000s, wouldn’t pass muster with animal activists in 2021 but it’s a statement piece that we believe still finds pride of place in Melania’s wardrobe. In 2001, the couple attended the Oscars together in Los Angeles. Melania’s white dress, embellished with tiny sequins, stood out for its plunging neckline that showed off her décolleté. The Trumps have a tradition of spending the Christmas holidays at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. In this 2002 photo with Donald Trump, Melania wears a red mermaid gown in front of a Christmas tree. Melania made headlines when she wore a US$51,000 Dolce & Gabbana fur jacket for a G7 appearance in Sicily in 2017. Her love for fur dates back to her early days, as this paparazzi photo taken in New York in 2004 shows. In 2004, Donald Trump was roasted at the Friars Club, a New York private club. Melania toned down her habitual glamour and wore a very chic skirt suit in dark grey to accompany him to the event. In this very “2000s vibe” photo, Melania poses with celebrities Nicole Richie and Nicky Hilton at a Los Angeles party for Trump’s reality show The Apprentice . Melania wore a pleated baby blue dress for the occasion. It’s unusual to see Melania do casual, but she chose a very simple chiffon top paired with flared denim jeans to attend a Marc Jacobs show during New York Fashion Week in 2005. While Vogue has shunned Melania Trump the First Lady, the magazine put her on its February 2005 cover, on the occasion of her wedding to Trump. For her big day, she wore a satin gown from Dior made from 300 feet (91 metres) of material and embroidered with 1,500 crystal diamantés. While pregnant with Barron, her only child with Trump, Melania wore an empire-waist gown to attend a ballet premiere in New York in 2005. The dress is embroidered with delicate floral motifs. Also in 2005, a pregnant Melania cleverly covered up her bump with a black top and a bunch of pearl necklaces from Chanel at a New York event for the French brand. As first lady, she wore Chanel for a state dinner at the White House in Washington in 2018 in honour of France. Melania rarely changes her simple hairdos but she tried something new at a dinner for charity Operation Smile in New York in 2006. The slightly teased do is not very flattering, but we can’t fault Melania for being more adventurous. Even when she does casual, Melania knows how to look on point. In this 2006 photo, she pushes a pram with her and Trump‘s son, Barron, clad in a white shirt paired with skinny jeans. Often seen as impenetrable and Sphinx-like, Melania shows her fun side at a “Wig Out” birthday party for billionaire Woody Johnson in New York in 2007. Both she and Donald adhered to the wig-themed dress code and wore blonde wigs at the event. While there have been reports that tensions ran high between Melania and Trump’s daughter Ivanka during the Trump administration, the women looked friendly at this 2007 Gucci dinner in New York. Melania’s halter neck dress stands out for its ruffles. Melania and Donald have attended their fair share of Met Galas through the years. For the 2007 event, which celebrated the early 20th-century French designer Paul Poiret, Melania chose a Poiret-inspired flapper-style dress in gold sequins. Melania looks like she means business after attending the Nasdaq closing bell in Times Square, New York, in 2008. She accessorised her black blouse and matching black skirt with a crocodile belt. At a charity event in New York in 2009, Melania shows her soft side as a doting mum holding her son, Barron. She is clad in a beautiful day dress cinched at the waist with a belt, a look that would become one of her signatures as first lady.