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Billie Holiday Style Evolution: No One Did Ladylike Like Lady Day (PHOTOS)

04/05/2013 10:49 am 10:49:23 | Updated Apr 07, 2016

Billie Holiday's short life may have been marred by a tumultuous upbringing and drug addiction, but when she stepped into the spotlight her image was immaculate.

Born Eleanora Fagan in Philadelphia, the "Strange Fruit" singer adopted her stage name from the actress Billie Dove and musician Clarence Holiday (her rumored father). She launched her jazz career in New York City nightclubs before being discovered by producer and talent scout John Hammond. He eventually signed her to Brunswick Records and introduced her to big band acts like Count Basie (a collaboration that included the famous tune "Summertime") and Lester Young (the saxophone player who came up with the nickname "Lady Day").

While Holiday received considerable recognition after her death, including posthumous inductions into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame, Grammy Hall of Fame and a biographical film starring Diana Ross aptly titled "Lady Sings the Blues," her ladylike style was always praised. From the fresh gardenias that adorned her hair to the fit-and-flare dresses she donned, Holiday was truly a class act. (Even with her beloved dog Mister by her side).

In honor of what would've been Billie Holiday's 98th birthday on Sunday (April 7), we're taking a look back at her greatest fashion moments.

Always imitated, never duplicated:

Billie Holiday Style Evolution

Flip through our many other Style Evolutions here.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this feature said Lester Young was a pianist.

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