The Stunning Style Transformation Of Mary-Kate And Ashley Olsen

From their "Full House" days to their fashion house era, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have been in the spotlight serving headline-worthy looks for a long time. While they may not have been picking out their outfits in their early days as child actors, when they wore matching dresses and hair bows, the sisters have since taken their careers, and their style, into their own hands.

From boho chic to being clad in all black, the sisters haven't just had memorable fashion moments — they've been seriously influential through their style, and not just because they know how to put together interesting and polished looks. Since 2006, Mary-Kate and Ashley have been growing their luxury brand The Row, and creating a pretty respectable reputation in the fashion world for themselves, too.

However, despite practically being born in the spotlight, these sisters prefer to keep a low profile as they pursue their passions. As Ashley noted in a 2018 interview with the Wall Street Journal, "I don't know if it's because of the way we grew up — we just don't like talking about ourselves or talking about what we're doing ... It's not really our approach." That being said, these low-key sisters have made some amazing fashion statements, and know how to rock styles that are worth taking a look at.

1987-1995: Fun and frilly times on Full House

Mary-Kate and Ashely Olsen got an early start in their acting career, even for child actors. At nine months old, they were already starring in the sitcom "Full House." Initially credited as just one person, the twins took turns filming and playing the role of Michelle Tanner. What's even more surprising is that even though they may look exactly alike, Mary-Kate and Ashley are fraternal twins, not identical.

Throughout their stint as Michelle Tanner, which ended in 1995, the Olsens could be seen sporting plenty of frilly, girly, matching outfits. No matter the situation, these two were always twinning, whether it was matching floral dresses, denim overalls with flower appliqués, or sailor-girl outfits. These outfits were also accessorized to the nines, with the sisters wearing matching hats with bows, or bows around their ponytails. Some classic '90s frilly socks were a common accessory for them, too.

1996-1999: Queens of coordination

Even though they were first known for their role in "Full House," Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were also busy filming movies and other TV shows together, too. In the late '90s, they starred in movies like the adorable (and honestly, iconic) "Passport to Paris", as well as "Billboard Dad." They also branched out to other forms of media with a book series and began to develop their own sense of style on red carpets.

As Mary-Kate and Ashley grew up, they moved away from wearing outfits that matched exactly. That said, their outfits were often still very similar and color-coordinated. At the launch of their book series, "The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley," they wore coordinating satin blazers in dark blue and brown. However, this is the only area where their looks diverged, as they wore the same black pants and boots, and had matching straight bobs.

In 1999, at the age of 12, they were seen in more coordinated outfits. While they wore matching black cardigans, their fringey midiskirts were different colors — purple and pink. They had often sported identical hairstyles in the past, but this time they switched it up, with one twin's straight, flipped-out hair falling at chin length, and the other's shoulder-length.

2000-2004: Finding their own style

By the early 2000s, the Olsens' careers were on a roll. Despite having to deal with things like the infamous 2004 Oprah interview where they were hammered with questions about their weight, they were achieving a lot of success. From 2000 to 2004, they released some of their most memorable films, like "Our Lips Are Sealed," "Winning London," and "New York Minute," which would be their last film together. Being super popular with tweens, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen had a huge range of products with their likeness on them, from dolls to T-shirts and board games. In 2004, when the twins turned 18, they became presidents of their production company, Dualstar.

Mary-Kate and Ashley were branching out style-wise, too. While they still often coordinated their outfits, they began to break away from this habit. One of the most memorable instances of this is when they received their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at the age of 17. Mary-Kate wore a lavender halter dress with velvety blue pumps and chandelier earrings. Ashley wore a sleek white dress with silver detailing on top, and white shoes. Another notable divergence in their look: They weren't only dressing differently, but their hair lengths, and colors, were different now, too. Mary-Kate's hair was long, wavy, tousled, and brown, while Ashley's was shorter, blond, and partially pinned back.

2005-2006: Fashionistas begin building a fashion empire

In 2006, the 19-year-olds seemed ready to break away from acting. Later on, in a 2013 interview with Allure, they would talk about this decision, with Mary-Kate Olsen saying of acting, "I am not great at not being able to control the end product." To that, Ashley Olsen added, "I was reading scripts, and ultimately I just said to the people who were representing me, 'I need to do things 100%. I don't feel like I can give you 100% of my time.'"

With acting behind them, they turned their attention toward fashion and founded their brand The Row, a luxury fashion label based in New York City. Of starting the brand, Ashley told i-D Magazine, "What we did know was that we wanted to take that time to take a break from what we were previously doing and to explore things that interested us, and explore what life has to offer (creatively). We wanted to explore making something of ourselves," (via USA Today).

Around this time, the twins' style began to take on a more boho vibe. In 2005, their stunning Met Gala looks were a great example of their style transition, with Mary-Kate in white and Ashley in gold, and both gowns featuring lacy detailing. They accessorized with layered necklaces and brought it all together with wavy tousled locks.

2007: Boho chic, a.k.a. the bag lady look

In 2007 the Olsens took their venture into the fashion world even further by launching another label called Elizabeth & James, which was named after their younger siblings. The 20-year-olds were getting major attention for their style around this time, as well. Their boho era was at its peak, and the fashion world was taking note and talking about it. Of their style, fashion critic Teri Agin said to Town & Country, "I think they called it dumpster chic. Everything was oversized and they had the bug-eyed glasses and that bag lady look, and they were always carrying a Starbucks. That was a big deal."

Along with the oversized bags and big glasses, the Olsen sisters were often seen wearing flowy dresses and layered outfits, accessorized with hats, scarves, and layered jewelry. Tousled, mussed hair was often the finishing touch to the eclectic dumpster chic aesthetic, and may even have made some wonder what subtle, eclectic grandpa elements they could add to their own outfits.

2008-2009: Toning it down

In 2008, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen ventured again into publishing with their book "Influence," which features interviews with notable people in the fashion world. In a 2008 interview with Oprah, the sisters talked about one particularly memorable interview with Diane von Furstenberg. "She said a couple of things, but she said, 'You have to be your best friend first,' and I absolutely agree. You have to feel comfortable with yourself before you go off and do anything in order to make the right choices for you," Ashley revealed. She also divulged what her style is really like: "I wear tennis shoes to the office every day with sweatpants. I really like to be comfortable in what I'm doing."

Around this time, subtle signs of a shift in the 21-year-old sisters' aesthetic could be seen. Gradually, the colorful, eclectic, boho bag lady look went by the wayside as both Mary-Kate and Ashley began to use more black and simple silhouettes in their wardrobes. Their 2008 Met Gala appearance is a great example of this: Mary-Kate opted for a shimmering gold gown with minimal details, while Ashley was seen in a sleek black dress with cutouts on the side.

2010-2011: Glitzy goth

By 23, the twins were fully embracing an eclectic, dramatic, glitzy-goth look, and their place in the fashion world. While the names "Mary-Kate and Ashley" were still synonymous with the bag lady, or ashcan look, for many, their fashion line The Row was strikingly minimalist, and the fashion world was taking notice. Harvey Nichols fashion-buying director Averyl Oates described The Row to the Irish Independent: "Understated but powerful fashion. These are investment pieces and there is a lot of personal involvement by the girls."

Their looks from this time managed to be both dramatic and low-key, all at once. Many outfits featured interesting details, like beading and fur. They also contrasted understated tones like black and gray with bold animal prints and bright pops of color, like red, which gave these looks an attention-grabbing aura of being both moody and fun, not unlike the popular mob wife aesthetic

2012-2016: Bold and chic, basic black steals the show

By now, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen had established themselves securely as fashion icons and entrepreneurs, and they even took home the 2012 CFDA fashion award for womenswear designers of the year. Not only that, but they had entered into a bold new style era, dressing in head-to-toe black. While they still wore some neutrals, and the occasional bright color (like the purple dress Mary-Kate wore to the 2012 CFDAs), the majority of their outfits were mostly black. At the J. Mendel fall 2012 fashion show, both twins wore black blazers and black pants, and finished off the look with large black sunglasses.

At the 2016 CFDA Awards, which the twins attended with their younger sister Elizabeth Olsen, they could be seen in all black again. Ashley wore a floor-length black skirt, a black top with full sleeves that was accessorized with a belt, black pumps, and a neutral-toned clutch. Mary-Kate wore black pants and a black button-up top, which she paired with black pumps, layered, beaded necklaces, big gold earrings, and a snakeskin clutch. It seems that while black may have been their wardrobe color of choice, both of the twins still enjoyed expressing themselves through their accessories.

2017: Layering on the lace

At the 2017 Met Gala, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen showed off one of their most eclectic and interesting Met Gala looks yet. The theme was Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: The Art of In-between. Just as this designer had a reputation for edgy fashion, so too Mary-Kate and Ashley were experimenting with their looks. While they may have been more over the top than any of their Met Gala styles from the past, in many ways their layered and lacy ensembles were reminiscent of the boho chic looks they were so well-known for nearly a decade before.

Mary-Kate donned a lace gown with bell sleeves for the event and leaned into maximalism with her mega-sized, layered chunky necklaces. Ashley also wore a lace gown but topped it with a cropped black embroidered jacket with a lime fur collar. Both wore their hair down, and while Mary-Kate's flowed loose, Ashley's appeared to be tucked into her jacket.

2018: Mary-Kate and Ashley coordinate, contrast, and communicate

By 2018, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen had been active in the fashion world long enough to look back and reflect on their career. Talking to Wall Street Journal, Mary-Kate and Ashley discussed their partnership as sisters and business partners, as well as the work that goes into communication, with Ashley saying, "It's been 32 years of learning how to communicate." The sisters also talked about how their bond connects them in all areas of their lives, with Ashley saying, "We do everything together." To that, Mary-Kate added, "We came out of the womb doing that."

While black was still a major style staple for the twins, they did mix it up from time to time, along with coordinating and contrasting their outfits. At the 2018 WSJ Innovator Awards, they kept their hair and makeup simple. Ashley wore a minimalist white dress with black pumps and a black bag, while Mary-Kate wore a long black trench with red snakeskin boots.

2019-2020: Mary-Kate and Ashley look bold in leather

The sisters continued growing and diversifying their brand The Row, although many of their own outfits remained simple, and primarily composed of black. In a 2019 interview with British Vogue, they got candid about their past as actors and their goals for The Row. Mary-Kate Olsen discussed their start in Hollywood by saying, "We've been there, we've done that, we started out that way. But this is the way we chose to move forward in our lives: to not be in the spotlight, to really have something that speaks for itself." Ashley Olsen added, "It was very hard at the beginning."

Later in the interview, they got more into detail about their approach towards fashion and how they view their brand, with Ashley saying, "We love curating; we love discovering new products and vintage pieces." This sentiment is also visible in the sisters' looks around this time. At the 2019 Met Gala, Mary-Kate wore a leather jacket paired with a leather skirt, while Ashley wore an ultra-long leather coat lined with canary-yellow fabric. Minimal accessories and lightly styled hair kept the focus on their outfits. While hosting the 2019 Dia Art Foundations Fall Night, they both donned bold, black coats. Mary-Kate accessorized with black heels, a black satchel, and a black scrunchie, along with some mismatched earrings. Ashley accessorized her look with a black clutch and heels. Both of them left their dark-blond hair looking long, and natural.

2021-2022: Mary-Kate and Ashley talk fashion

Even though the Olsen twins have never been big on sharing their lives on social media, the sisters did speak about their fashion house philosophy in a 2021 i-D interview. "I think the reason that we do fashion is to constantly try to fix our imperfections, and you always have next season to do that. It's also our job to find every imperfection in there to make sure that we're constantly pushing ourselves and training our eyes and making sure everyone is served. Just evolving and learning," Mary-Kate Olsen said (via USA Today).

Not only do the Olsen sisters seem to strive for perfection when it comes to their company The Row, but they also seem to do so when it comes to their personal style. Long black coats and well-tailored trousers became go-tos for the sisters around that time, which resulted in an overall look that was both streamlined and stylish. Low-key beauty looks meant there were lots of times Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen went make-up-free and flawless

2023-Present: Low-key quiet luxury takes over

While Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen may have been known for their boho chic aesthetic circa 2007, by the early 2020s they were known for their quiet luxury style. Their monochromatic black outfits made a bold statement, and their accessories often elevated their looks, whether it was through refined and minimal details, or attention-grabbing prints and colors. From big earrings and sunglasses to slouchy black bags, both Mary-Kate and Ashley have proven that they know how to create a look that's both subtle but also intriguing once you take a closer look at the details.

While the quiet luxury or stealth wealth look may be super on-trend in 2024, no one could say the Olsens are trend-followers, since they've been styling themselves this way for nearly a decade. This ability to be true to themselves has touched other areas of their lives besides their style. In a 2023 interview with The Financial Times, Ashley opened up about her and Mary-Kate's work ethic and determination: "I mean, at 18, we decided to go to school and see what the world had to offer, and we started a company together in 2006, and have been in business for almost 20 years," she shared. "I think everyone knows that this industry is extremely, extremely difficult. And we started with just the two of us ... One step at a time."