The Changing Looks Of The Olsen Twins

Twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen look totally different today than they did when they were playing everyone's favorite sassy kid, Michelle Tanner, on Full House. Of course, the cast of Full House looks completely different today too. After all, the first episode of Full House aired in 1987. And in the decades since, the Olsen twins have proved they're unafraid to completely change up their looks.

If you were a youngster in the early '90s, you will likely forever remember the Olsen twins as the crime solving kid-detectives in The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley, or as twin sisters Sarah and Julie in the film To Grandmother's House We Go. However, if you were introduced to the twins a bit later, you probably have fond memories of watching them rush around the Big Apple in A New York Minute or trying to keep a major secret in Our Lips Are Sealed

Regardless of when you were first introduced to them, it's safe to say you've noticed the twins' major transformation. Here's a look at the changing looks of the Olsen twins — from their dye jobs and hair cuts to "boho chic" ensembles and power suits.

The Olsen twins made bangs look cool

While Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen may have long, wavy tresses today, they were all about a shoulder-length 'do with bangs when they first made their Hollywood debut. As anyone who's ever had bangs can attest, it's not an easy look to pull off. Sadly, for those of us who desperately want to look good with fringe, we know not everyone is meant to have bangs. That said, there's no question that the Olsen twins were blessed with the ability to wear bangs (and look totally adorable while doing so).

From 1987 to 1995, the famous twins played Michelle Tanner on Full House, stealing the hearts of viewers everywhere with their impressive acting chops and quick-witted comebacks. It's safe to say the twins inspired kids across America to go to their parents and ask for a medium-length haircut just like Michelle Tanner's — complete with her signature bangs and cute pigtails, naturally.

Of course, bangs are trending again, with countless celebrities sporting the haircut. But for '90s kids, the Olsen twins will forever be the original bangs inspo. 

The Olsen twins were nearly impossible to tell apart as kids

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have always looked strikingly similar to one another, despite their changing looks throughout the years, so it may come as a surprise to learn that the sisters aren't identical twins.

A strange fact you might not know about these twins is that they're actually fraternal twins — or, twins resulting from the fertilization of two separate eggs during the same pregnancy (via the National Human Genome Research Institute). Still, while not technically identical, the Olsen twins were nearly impossible to tell apart as youngsters. Of course, this was only made more difficult by the twins constantly being dressed in identical outfits for red carpet events or in their early music videos. 

To be fair, we can't really blame the sisters — nor their parents — for totally leaning into the twin thing. After all, they did look super cute — and what person hasn't wished they had a twin with whom they could switch places to fool their parents and friends? Fortunately, however, the Olsen twins have left their matching phase far behind them (which definitely makes our job easier).

The Olsen twins have always been great at accessorizing

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have gone through plenty of fashion phases throughout the years, inspiring generations of girls and women who have looked to them for style inspiration. From wearing matching outfits as kids to making oversized-everything look cool with their "boho chic" style in the 2000s, the twins' influence when it comes to fashion is undeniable.

While the Olsen twins may opt for simpler, understated ensembles these days, there's no denying that they know how to style themselves — and how to accessorize. In fact, accessorizing has always been a strong point for the sisters, as evidenced by their scrunchie game in the music video "Brother For Sale," as well as the bandanas they wore while adorably singing about having squid for a snack in "Lunchbox." And who can forget their iconic "I Am the Cute One" music video, in which they played the most fun game of dress-up with an array of incredible hats, necklaces, and headpieces? 

The Olsen twins aren't wearing matching sunflower hats anymore, but their ability to flawlessly accessorize for any occasion will never fail to impress us. No accessory mistakes to see here, folks!

The Olsen twins were quite colorful while solving mysteries as kids

As adults, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen usually opt for understated outfits that don't demand the attention of a more glamorous look — often donning all-black ensembles. However, as youngsters, the Olsen twins didn't shy away from wearing color — and lots of it. As Full House drew to a close, the sisters started starring in their own series of musical mystery videos called The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley.

In each video, the Olsen twins would receive a phone call at the Olsen & Olsen Mystery Agency (located in their attic, naturally), providing them with their mystery of the day. While they still wore near-identical outfits, the Olsen twins sported different colors so their fans could tell them apart. For example, in The Case of the U.S. Space Camp Mission video, Mary-Kate wore a blue t-shirt under her overalls while Ashley wore a pink collared shirt under hers. And in The Case of the Mystery Cruise, the Olsen twins wore yellow and pink pastels to differentiate themselves. While we love the chic black-and-white wardrobe the sisters wear today, we definitely miss this colorful era!

The Olsen twins have grown out of their overall phase

The Olsen twins have always had their finger on the pulse of style — and that rings true into 2020. In fact, things they often wore as kids have returned to the fashion zeitgeist, like those overalls you had in 1997 that you swore you wouldn't be caught dead in today.

As fans of the famous fraternal twins know, the sisters had a special relationship with overalls throughout the '90s. As evidenced by The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley to their 1995 flick It Takes Two, the Olsen twins certainly seemed to love a good pair of denim overalls. However, their most iconic overall look definitely came with the opening sequence of their film series You're Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley's, in which the sisters sang the super catchy theme song while wearing backwards caps and overall shorts.  Mary-Kate wore a purple shirt with blue overalls while Ashley sported a blue shirt with purple overalls. Of course, you'll likely never catch the sisters wearing overall shorts (or so much color) ever again — but, hey, it was fun while it lasted!

The Olsen twins fully embraced '90s cool-kid style in Billboard Dad

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen spent the latter half of the '1990s mostly starring in their own series and specials produced by their company, Dualstar Entertainment. One of these productions was 1998's Billboard Dad — basically a time capsule of '90s fashion trends.

While still best known for playing firecracker kiddo Michelle Tanner on Full House, Billboard Dad proved the Olsen twins had done a lot of growing up since the ABC sitcom came to an end. In the movie, the sisters play Emily and Tess Tyler — twin sisters on a mission to get their widower father a girlfriend.

Looking back, Billboard Dad is a total '90s treasure trove, with tiny sunglasses, spaghetti-strap tanks, choker necklaces, and hair clips on full display throughout the film. And while the Olsen twins were still sporting their signature, straight-across bangs, the film's poster saw the sisters test the bangless water by pushing them to the side, thus giving the twins a much more mature vibe. As fans of the famous sisters know, Billboard Dad wouldn't be the last time the Olsen twins debuted a completely new look. 

The new millennium saw the Olsen twins become stylish teens

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen may still be the most famous twin sisters in the world, but they arguably reached the peak of their fame in the '90s. Following their multiple successful straight-to-VHS series, the Olsen twins were mega-popular and universally beloved. But as a new millennium neared, the sisters made it clear they were ready to fully leave childhood behind and enter their teen years, opting for a noticeably more mature sense of style. 

Released in 1999, the penultimate installment of You're Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley's (titled You're Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley's Fashion Party) featured its original opening theme with the overall-wearing Olsens. However, the episode itself featured a way more grown-up version of the sisters. Trading their signature bangs and haircuts for highlights and layers, the twins seemed to have become stylish teenagers overnight. 

By the time You're Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley's School Dance Party was released in 2000, it was obvious the twins were over the near-matching outfits and colorful overalls of their youth. Instead, they replaced their childhood style with a wardrobe seemingly inspired by Clueless and Claire's catalogs. 

The Olsen twins were total hair goals in Our Lips Are Sealed

Soon after Mary-Kate and Ashley shed their signature bangs, they each went on to totally transform their looks with a haircut. In 2000, the sisters starred in Our Lips Are Sealed — one of the most beloved Olsen twins films. In the fun summertime flick, the twins star as Maddie and Abby Parker — teenagers who witness a robbery in which a priceless diamond is stolen. For their safety, they're placed in the Witness Protection Program — eventually ending up in Australia, where they struggle to fit in with the other kids their age. However, one of the most memorable parts of Our Lips Are Sealed is definitely the Olsen twins' hair. 

Once adorned with shoulder-length and honey blonde, the twins changed up their hair and showed off new 'dos in the film, each opting for different cuts. Mary-Kate sported a chin-length cut with face-framing layers and platinum blonde highlights, while Ashley kept her hair just a bit longer than her sister's, parting it down the middle. And in true Olsen style, the twins made sure to accessorize with bandanas, chunky headbands, and funky hair clips.

So Little Time, so many changing looks for the Olsen twins

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen left their time as adorable child actors fully behind them as they entered the aughts. Of course, this meant the twin sisters had to leave their old style behind as well. Nothing proved this more than the sisters' sitcom So Little Time. Premiering in 2001 on Fox Family (which later became ABC Family), So Little Time followed twin sisters Riley and Chloe Carlson navigating the ups and downs of being 14-year-old girls in Malibu. And boy, did they have some ups and downs — especially in the style department.

So Little Time is a fascinating look inside the world of early aughts fashion, per Refinery 29. Throughout the series' lone season, the twins are seen featuring punk rock looks with clip-in neon highlights, beachy waves with minimal makeup and lots of lip gloss, and flowing, colorful, bohemian blouses that were totally California chic. 

And, if you're wondering — yes they had to break out the bandanas. After all, is it even an Olsen twins production if it doesn't make you walk away wondering if you could pull off the headwear?

New York Minute was the end of an era for the Olsen twins

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's last film role together came with their second feature film, the 2004 comedy New York Minute. And while the flick might have been an end of an era for the twins and their fans, it certainly introduced a new era of style for the famous sisters. 

In New York Minute, the Olsen twins gave a preview of what their signature looks would be as they made the transition to adulthood. Despite being difficult to tell apart as youngsters, New York Minute proved the Olsen twins had finally found their own, individual styles. While both sported long, wavy tresses, Mary-Kate's hair was a strawberry blonde hue. For her part, Ashley kept her hair blonde, letting it fall just below her shoulders.

The movie also saw the Olsen twins branch out with their wardrobes, which couldn't be more different. In the film, Mary-Kate sported an edgier style that seemed as if it came straight from the shelves at Hot Topic, while Ashley donned a preppier, Gossip Girl-esque look. Blair Waldorf would be proud. 

The Olsen twins embraced their individuality with bold makeup and personal style

As Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen got older, it became easier for fans to tell the lookalike fraternal twins apart. During a 2004 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, the talk show host asked the famous sisters to tell the audience how to tell them apart, to which Ashley Olsen hilariously responded, "I have blonde hair right now, and Mary-Kate has brown hair." Ask and you shall receive, Oprah! 

Of course, as the twins grew older, they leaned into their individuality by expressing themselves through makeup, hair color, and fashion. As her twin sister rightly noted, Mary-Kate Olsen traded her blonde locks for darker, auburn-brown tresses in 2004, while Ashley remained bright and blonde. And while Mary-Kate often sported a smokey-eye, Ashley preferred a natural makeup look.

The twins soon started showcasing their different styles, as well. "Ashley is very sophisticated. She dresses more like she's, like, going to a meeting or something like that," said Alexandra Hamile, a friend of the twins, in a VH1 documentary. "And Mary-Kate's just kind of funky ... Just a go-with-the-flow type of girl," added friend Kate Lazar. 

The Olsen twins basically started the boho chic trend

In the mid to late aughts, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen inspired college-aged women to get rid of the belly button-flashing fashion of yesteryear and opt instead for comfort — and lots and lots of layers.

To be fair, Mary-Kate is the Olsen twin who started this trend — which People labeled "boho chic" in 2005. From 2005 to 2007, while the twins were attending New York University, Mary-Kate could often be spotted wearing way-oversized cardigans and loose, flowy skirts and blouses. "She makes skinny girls in baggy clothes look cool," stylist Karen Berenson told The New York Times in a 2005 interview.

However, Ashley Olsen also dabbled in her sister's signature bohemian style, wearing pieces like an Indian-style caftan while out and about. And, at the 2005 Met Gala, both sisters opted for bohemian-inspired looks, with Ashley wearing a gold Oscar de la Renta gown and Mary-Kate sporting a sheer, white, vintage dress (via Nylon). With tousled waves and layered beaded necklaces, these two looked totally cool and effortlessly chic. 

The Olsen twins are proving less is more when it comes to style

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are hardly recognizable these days — and for more reasons than just one. For starters, the twins famously stay away from the world of social media and have made a conscious decision to steer clear of the limelight — meaning you'll be hard-pressed to see them on your TV screen anytime soon (if ever again). So when the occasional photo of the sisters does start making rounds, you might find yourself shocked at just how different they look. 

These days, the Olsen twins — who are hard at work on their fashion brands Elizabeth and James and The Row – opt mostly for oversized black or white ensembles. While Mary-Kate's hair is still a darker shade than Ashley's, it might be more difficult to tell these two apart at first glance. Both usually let their long, wavy tresses fall around their shoulders, and their favorite makeup trend seems to consist only of foundation, mascara, and a nude lip color. Of course, we'll always be nostalgic for their colorful, youthful days — but we totally admire the Olsens' less-is-more approach to modern style.