The administration may change, but the excitement and prestige of meeting the President of the United States is truly unique. Here, the giddy smiles of 40 eager celebrities to prove it. But what we're concerned about is what they wore. How does one choose an outfit for such an occasion? See for yourself.
Did you know that FDR and Katharine Hepburn were related through a common ancestor on the Mayflower? Well, when the actress joined the president for a luncheon devoted planning a radio show special on behalf of his 1940 presidential election—to which Hepburn wore a signature button down—they probably talked about that and more.
Hollywood's most iconic blonde bombshell sang a brow-raising rendition of "Happy Birthday" for President Kennedy's 45th birthday in a stunning glittery gown. Fun fact: This is the only known photo of the two rumored lovers.
Barbra Streisand is obviously a mega star in her own right, but even this diva looked smitten with JFK when she met him in 1963. Her elbow-length white gloves and feathery boa are fancy and fun. And look at that chic bob!
In 1970, Elvis appeared at the White House in a collar nearly as exaggerated as his belt and was named a “Federal Agent at Large" by President Nixon—he also received an honorary badge.
President Reagan and his wife Nancy snapped a quick photo with the famous supermodels at a Tribute to Bob Hope's 80th birthday at the Kennedy Center in 1983. All the women were in gowns—Brinkley in a two-piece number (a look that's recently back in style)!
President Ronald Reagan awarded Michael Jackson with the Presidential Public Safety Communication Award; the award was the result of MJ's classic song "Beat It" being used as the anthem of Reagan's public service campaign against teen drinking and driving. The King of Pop donned a single glove, naturally.
Michael Jackson visited the White House in this snazzy black and red military-inspired ensemble in 1990 when he received the “Artist of the Decade” award from the first President Bush. The megastar received this honor more than one time throughout his life.
Music legend Whitney Houston got a private tour of the White House from the president himself 1990. During that visit, President Bush named the icon a “Point of Light Contributing Leader.”
In 1991, Brooke Shields joined President Bush and many others at "Welcome Home, America," the United Service Organization's 50th anniversary. (Her sleeves are perfectly turn-of-the-decade.) To the delight of the audience, Frank Sinatra sang the patriotic ballad "What is America to Me?" at the event.
Many celebrities were thrilled when Bill Clinton was elected the 42nd president of the United States. Just before his inauguration, to celebrate cultural diversity, the likes of MJ, Diana Ross, and Stevie Wonder performed in a two-day festival called America's Reunion on the Mall. The monochromatic ensemble Ross chose for the event is truly as iconic as she is.
The VH1 Save the Music Foundation (founded in 1997) raised funding to maintain and support music programs in public schools across the United States. In 1999, the nonprofit organization held its Concert of the Century, and famous supporters of the arts such as SJP showed love. The star had just begun her role on Sex and the City and we think Carrie would very much approve of this outfit.
Grammy-winning rocker Leny Kravitz also performed at VH1's Concert of the Century. The "American Woman" singer rocked the mic onstage, showing off his patriotism with his red, white, and blue guitar. 'Merica.
Meryl Streep got close and personal with President Clinton at the Concert of the Century. The Oscar-winning actress maintained a close relationship with the Clinton family, campaigning for Secretary Hilary Clinton in her 2016 presidential bid and was reportedly considered to play her in a biopic.
Only a rocker could meet a president in just a vest. Here, the Rolling Stones singer-songwriter poses with the former president backstage at the 2001 Concert for New York City, a benefit concert in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Mandy Moore appeared with President Bush and the FLOTUS at TNT's annual holiday spectacular, "Christmas in Washington," in 2001 (for which she chose an appropriately festive red dress). She starred in the romantic comedy classic The Princess Diaries and released her self-titled third album that same year.
In 2003, R&B songstress Ashanti joined the president at the same holiday celebration clad in a chic black dress with button details.
"Christmas in Washington" continued in 2005, and Carrie Underwood belted out various holiday staples onstage including "Last Christmas" and "O Holy Night." All eyes were on the American Idol winner as she glittered in a sparkled in a white ballgown, reminiscent of holiday tinsel.
Ciara also scored an invite to the 2005 "Christmas in Washington" special, dressed in a festive emerald gown. The singer's debut album Goodies put her on the map, and Ciara spent much of that year touring the country with fellow R&B and hip hop up-and-comers Bow Wow and Omarion.
When George W. Bush was elected president for a second time, the 2005 inaugural festivities included a youth concert headlined by Disney darling Hilary Duff (note the totally early 2000s red streaks in her hair) and featuring American Idol winner Reuben Studdard, Jojo, and Ryan Cabrera. The concert, called "America's Future Rocks Today," caused a stir when Brett Scallions of the band Fuel cursed on stage. A totally different time, 2005.
Oprah Winfrey stepped out in a grey power suit to offer one of the earliest endorsements of then-Senator Barack Obama's first presidential run in 2007. Passionate about the young senator's cause and drive, the TV mogul even hit the road with the Obamas and joined them on the campaign trail. To this day, Winfrey and the Obamas remain the best of friends.
Kerry Washington and Usher showed some love to the future 44th president as he campaigned for his first election in 2008. The trio reunited once more at President Obama's White House farewell party in 2017, which, apparently, was a total rager—word on the street is that the demure actress was moshing!
Snazzily dressed in their best black-tie attire, J.Lo and Marc Anthony posed with the First Couple at President Obama's inaugural ball in 2008. The then-married couple also performed together at the big event, singing the romantic duet "No Me Ames" onstage.
Sheryl Crow went in for a hug after hitting the stage at the 2009 "We are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration" in Washington, D.C. (in a T-shirt featuring his visage, no less). The singer-songwriter supported President Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections and even performed at a 2015 Democratic primary debate.
The "Girl on Fire" reconnected with President Obama at a World AIDS Day event at George Washington University. The event, Hosted by ONE and (RED), was attended by politicians (including former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton) and major entertainment influencers like Keys and U2 frontman Bono.
The celebrities joined the First Family in the capital for the the 2011 "Christmas in Washington" festivities. And all showed up in their formal holiday best (Bieber even went for a white jacket!). It wouldn't be Jennifer Hudson's last time performing in front of the Obamas, however; the Chicago native dazzled the crowd at the president's second inaugural ball with a jazzy rendition of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together."
The cast of ABC's family sitcom Modern Family laughed it up with the president during a 2012 visit to the White House. President Obama looked excited to be meeting some of his favorite actors—he is, after all a huge fan of the show and tunes in regularly to watch the Pritchett family's shenanigans. (Unrelated, but can we just take a moment of appreciation for Bowen's biceps?)
President Obama hosted a reception for the 2012 US Olympic women's gymnastics team in the White House, celebrating the Fierce Five's accomplishments at the London games. The young women traded their leotards and warm up suits for business casual.
The ever-playful POTUS even asked to pose with McKayla Maroney to recreate her viral "not impressed" face. "[Obama] the coolest person I ever met," the gold medal-winning gymnast said about the president. "He's got the hardest job in the entire world."
In 2010, President Obama became the first sitting president ever to appear on a daytime television show when he appeared on The View. The cast's choice of apparel didn't differ much from what they typically wear for the show, with each woman showing off her personality via her clothing. Two years later, he and Michelle visited the ABC show again to talk about his presidency and his desire to be re-elected.
"What are those?!" Just kidding. At a 2012 event in Doolittle Park, Katy Perry showed off her killer shoes to President Obama as her grandmother (who was also her date for the night—so precious!) looked on.
Beyoncé was personally selected to sing the national anthem at President Obama's second inauguration ceremony in 2013, and looked stunning. But her performance wasn't without controversy. Critics believed that Beyoncé had lip-synced through the entire song (really?), but she was able to prove her haters wrong when she gave a stellar impromptu performance of the song a week later during her Super Bowl press conference. We never doubted you, Bey.