From Election Night to Inauguration Day, I was very nervous to see whether Michelle Obama would move to the proverbial "center," like her husband, and start dressing like Laura Bush and Jill Biden. The moment I saw the mustard-yellow brocade lace suit with the green gloves, however, I rejoiced: She brought it! She actually brought style to the White House!
The Isabel Toledo suit was perfect. It was cool. The jeweled neckline was interesting, the color and fabric were fun and she looked fabulous in it. The matching coat beamed as a beacon among the sea of bland, predictable coats.
My jury is still out on the gown. I start from the place of not liking gowns. Most gowns put me to sleep. This one, by Jason Wu, did not, because the color surprised me and I kept straining to see what was on the dress. Blame my small TV, but at first, it looked like shredded, wadded-up tissue paper balls with sparkly studs on the dress. Later when I viewed the dress on-line, I saw it was made of gorgeous flowing silk with fluffy sparkly things -- not tissue paper. I loved the shape of the gown from the waist up (can we finally say good-bye to overwrought cleavage?) and it was ethereal and sparkling but in a cool non-gown-like way. The gown made me thin. This is a first!.
Usually, I find coats even more boring than gowns. But Michelle Obama really succeeds in the coat category. The big lapel three-quarter length pea coat, worn on her birthday during the Whistle Stop Train Tour, and the beige-on-the-outside-and-black-on-the-inside coat worn to the We Are One: Opening Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial were perfect for each occasion and showed a wide range of wardrobe.
Michelle Obama dresses like an interesting, professional mother, who loves clothes and is confident to wear what she likes (color) and ditch what she doesn't like (stockings), who doesn't buy expensive clothes if others will do (J.Crew), and brings style into a modern day perspective. No need to make it more complicated: clothes are fun! Next!
There are distinct motifs in the multi-generational Obama style. Cardigans. Flats. Bow ties and belts across the midsection. Dressing up for occasions. Dressing down for the routine. While volunteering for Operation Gratitude, she wore a belt over layered shirts and a cardigan and pants. The blue patent leather belt, refreshingly, did not match the pants, which made the whole outfit interesting. Her girls looked so pretty in their colorful bow belted coats worn on Inauguration Day.
Practicality is central. With the possible exception of the Inaugural gown, which seemed cumbersome to swirl up the stairs in, because of the sheer volume of skirt material, Michelle Obama chooses comfortable clothes you can move in as well as shoes you can walk in. I bet she wore flats at the Prayer Service the day after the Inauguration because her feet hurt having walked and danced in heels all day and night on Inauguration Day. I loved that her mother put on the red knit hat when she got cold during the Inauguration ceremony. How normal!
Michelle Obama has terrific style. She provides a modern, no-fuss, look which will serve as a model to professionals, mothers, and all women. While we can enjoy the fun of looking at her outfits, I do not think she wants us to dwell on fashion for long. Instead, as her husband, the President, said, we must get to the business of making our nation better, we must sacrifice, and we must use our smarts.
But before you roll up your cardigan and get down to sacrificing, you may want to check out the current half-price sales on gloves like the ones Michelle Obama wore to the Inauguration. If you can afford it, now is the time to buy them in red, beige, green and even patent leather. Try different length gloves, too. Like our First Lady, our new American Fashion Icon, we can embrace color, buy less expensive clothes, look fabulous and enjoy what we wear, even as we sacrifice!