The Michelle Obama Fashion Retrospective

Politicans and their spouses often aren’t the best dressed people. Take the Clintons when they first left Arkansas or Laura Bush when she left Texas for the White House. These are people who don’t spend a lot of time thinking about clothes. They just wore whatever wasn’t wrinkled. Hillary wore lots of head bands. Bill had a cheap watch. And my father, Papa Snob, regularly remarked that Laura looked like her shoes still had cow shit on them.

But once Washington got them they cleaned up OK, although I’d still argue that Hillary hasn’t quite found that magic pantsuit that minimizes the dumpiness. Male politicians are lucky. They can just wear a dark suit and disappear into the background. But not women. If you don’t have your hair and clothes right the criticism will be fast and brutal.

That’s why it’s shocking when a politician or political spouse actually knows how to match. Which brings us to our woman of the hour.

If there was a race for political spouses, Michelle Obama would be the one to beat. Smart, charming, brutally honest and talented — she kills in many categories, but if there’s a race for best dressed she has no contemporaries, save for the almost equally fashionable Cindy McCain who also seems to know how to match and throw the occasional outfit together on the Republican side.

But she doesn’t push the Talbots envelope as hard as Michelle. She’s on the edgy side conservative women’s dress (if that makes any sense.) Basically, she takes something boring and ordinary and makes it fabulous.

Anyway. Here it is. My celebration to one of Michelle’s greatest bodies of work. I’ll write something up every time I see her in something eyebrow raising. If you have any favorite Michelle Obama fashion pics that caught your eye, send them to me:


Classic style: I love a white blouse that goes further than just buttons and pointed collars. This one is poetic yet primed for politics. And while I couldn’t find a photograph that would let me see it completely, that belt peeking out in the pic on the right looks fun. This shot is also a good shot of Michelle’s hair, which is thick and almost always styled in a flipped bob. It’s a “killer” bob so deadly that I’m almost positive that Michelle’s killer bob could kick Condi Rice’s killer bob’s ass.

The Art of the Puffy Sleeve: Michelle is a big fan of the puffy sleeve. I’ve never seen sleeves this puffy before. But it’s an elegant, billowy puffy, not a Seinfeld-esque, Renaissance Fair throwback. She can’t seem to get enough of them, and I’m guessing they all come from the same designer. They really make her stand-out from the other First Lady wannabes who don’t seem to have a signature look. Michelle owns the puffy sleeve. It’s her pill box hat. It’s all hers.

The Little Black Dress: When I saw this picture of Michelle I thought, wow. That’s some crazy confidence. She strolls into every room like she owns it. And how could she not own it in this belted black knit dress. She keeps it simple with some pearls and she’s ready to press the flesh with folks she’s never met before.

The Need for Tweed: I love the cut of this purple tweed suit. It’s highly flattering to Michelle’s naturally curvy waist line. And the cascade of pearls around her neck make it officially one of the best prete-a-porter suits on the campaign trail.

The Patterned Skirt: Usually political wives are confined to a narrow definition of fashion – pantsuits, suit dresses and things a grandmother from the 1950s would wear. The “Aunt Bea,” so to speak. Michelle eschews all of that, finding ways to dress conservatively and look fly at the same time. The pearls say “First Lady” but the printed black A-line skirt says “Party Over Here.”

The Power Suit: I love the sleeves on this suit. They hint back to her love off puffy sleeves, but instead of being whimsical, these sleeves are more like little bell bottoms for your arms. They’re fun, yet simultaneously serious. And like the purple tweed suit, this gray pinstripe has a flattering umpire cut with wavy flourishes from the waistline.

First Lady In Red: I already nominated this suit as the hottest red suit in politics. Hillary wore a great red suit to the State of the Union. Cindy McCain’s fond of a hot Red State number. But Michelle gets still points for pushing the envelope into chic, puffy sleeve territory. Wearing just a nice, tailored red suit would be too safe for Michelle. She can’t look like Hillary or Cindy. She’s got to jazz it up. She’s got to put her stamp on it. Puffy sleeve trumps all. Could Hillary pull this off? We think not.

Superwoman: It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s … Oh my God she looks fabulous! I still haven’t been able to determine if this is the world’s sexiest raincoat or an amazingly belted dress. Either way, I’d like two please if it will make me look like a 9 foot tall supermodel. Now, I’m not quite feeling the boots. Mostly because they appear to be brown and suede as apposed to black, hard leather and amazing. Like a pair of tall riding boots. And I don’t like skinny low heels. Thicker low heels might have been a better choice. But the dress/coat makes up for any sins the boots may have committed.

33 thoughts on “The Michelle Obama Fashion Retrospective

  1. Seriously though. I think there should be a bob-off between Michelle and Condi. We won’t base the bob-off on clothes because we already know that Condi’s clothes game is heavily stunted. Sometimes she looks OK and sometimes she looks horrific.And Condi’s bob used to be crusty anemic in the first Bush term, but after she became Secretary of State someone hipped her to some V05 lotion and heat wraps.Much better.

  2. Oh thank you! thank you! I just google ‘Michelle Obama fashion’ and got your fabulous blog. Its great. I also now have the Obama gadget on my blog thanks to you!Peggy

  3. After I saw that the above was your second Michelle Obams fashion post, I just had to find the first. Loved it. You are a fan. I know I am.

  4. fantastically misunderstood me: That bob was crusty-dusty that first term. MY GOD! Michelle has much nicer hair. Thick, pretty, healthy looking hair. Condi’s looked like she was getting too many perms or maybe her hair was just naturally thin and looking like it needed a wash. I don’t know. It could go either way.

  5. Thanks so much for this blog – glad I’m not the only one focused on how absolutely fierce she is. While I think she wears the “bob” well, I was really feeling her hair style at the Democratic National Convention last night. I am so looking forward to following her fashion over the next 4 years!:)

  6. Michalle Obama is an embarrasment. Please, someone find her a stylist that knows fashion do’s and don’ts

  7. Rice and Obama are pioneers for that black female professional look which I think is the ultimate for black women in general to aspire to. Same goes for their hair. You see, they are EDUCATED – so will always wear it well, whether you like their taste or not.

  8. Michelle Obama always looks put together and sophisticated. Unlike Sarah Palin, whose fashion is generic and whose clothes are paid for by republican voters… Caribou Barbie just got busted!!!

  9. I’m thinking sometimes Michelle looks well put together and sometimes she just looks, well, wrinkled. At one of the debates, she had on some printed cotton dress thing that looked awful. I wondered if she was trying to look down home and impress us with her frugality. I want her to look like she’s spending some money on her clothes, if she’s gonna be first lady of the land.

  10. I have to admit, once they gave her that extensive makeover and fixed that busted-up weave, she looks much better.Not surprising, if they can make Oprah look presentable, this one was a piece of cake…Just curious, does the wind constantly whistling through your head ever give you a headache?

  11. You are so all deranged! Have you seen this woman? She is dressing like a slob on the trail lately. I like Obama but Michelle needs to step it up. She is being out shined by EVERYONE. Sweatpants at a rally? Over sized sweaters? C'mon! /">:

  12. She looks just like all the other politicos….styled by people that know what there doing…her older photos are scary. Palin is much prettier!!

  13. She looks good on and off…at last night’s victory speech, OFF! Who dressed her?! It was awful and they should be ashamed of themselves.She will not like looking at those pictures!

  14. I think the dress was the worst I have seen. I could not figure out it it was knit or satin.All I know is it was not her best. She has to step it up.

  15. I can’t believe that people consider Michelle Obama well dressed or even fashionable. Sometimes she looks like a refugee from some forsaken country. To even compare her to Cindy Mc Cain is ridiculous. Cindy is a class act all the way. I hope ,as first lady Michelle gets a more polished look, that we can all admire. Her frugality, on the campaign trail ,was fake; you just have to see the checks she signed for in excess of $400.00 for little snacks of lobster treats.Her face is also very harsh and her hair, pulled back,looks horrific on her. Let’s not be so enamored of this couple that we cannot see past our own noses.

  16. You guys cannot be for real. Michelle’s style is horrific and borderling inappropriate! What was she wearing Tuesday night? The clothing is ok, but shes a big woman and she needs to learn how to dress for her body. For every look she nails, there were eight that she missed. Her hair and makeup is on point, but this woman needs wordrobe help ASAP.

  17. You all must be blind. I don’t think she if fashionable. You can dress her in whatever and the poor thing is not at all an attractive woman.

  18. Michelle Obama’s dress style is the bomb. You who think she is an unattractive woman are insane. She is a beautiful woman who appears warm and real. Cindy McCain is probably a very nice person and I am sure that she is attractive to many people but her polished tight looks remind me of an ice queen.

  19. Michelle Obama is so stylish, but looks so polished and professional at the same time. She has this always sunny sort of look that makes her seem very authentic. I love the fun cuts and prints that she wears; it's not traditional, but she still looks like White House material. (Seriously, she's my hero. No $6,000 pant suits for her; it's a lot of stuff from J. Crew, H&M and White House Black Market, which are places "normal" Americans can afford to shop.)Kudos, First Lady Obama!

  20. Sometimes her big hair gets on my nerves. However, I think she has great style and more imortantly an authentic attitude which says I’m stylish but within reach! LOVE IT!

  21. Comparisons to Cindy McCain are laughable. Maureen Dowd totaled up McCain’s outfit the night of the GOP nomination and came up with $40,000. I could look good with a budget of 40 grand.I’m very excited about Michelle’s style. Being a middle aged business woman I’m still using Jackie O as the benchmark of good taste and style, and that is a sad comment about US women in the public eye. I think she will be a trend setter for years to come.

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