Super style icon: Michelle Obama


I'm hardly the first person to blog about Michelle Obama's awesome wardrobe. I'm probably not one of the first million. But I've been thinking about style icons lately, and our U.S. First Lady was the very first lady (heh) to come to mind. So, hopefully, this will be the first in a series of posts featuring women whose style I adore.

So what do I love about Mrs. Obama's style?

1. Incredible vintage style details.

TUCSON, AZ - JANUARY 12: President Barack Obama (L) comforts his wife first lady Michelle Obama at the event Together We Thrive: Tucson and America honoring the January 8 shooting victims at McKale Memorial Center on the University of Arizona campus on January 12, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona. The memorial service is in honor of victims of the mass shooting at a Safeway grocery store that killed six and injured at least 13 others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who remains in critical condition after being shot in the head. Among those killed were U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63; Giffords
Wearing a beautiful vintage-esque cardigan to the memorial service for Tucson shooting victims

POCANTICO HILL, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama greets First Ladies from various countries before touring Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture on September 24, 2010 in Pocantico Hills, Westchester county, New York. The visit is part of the First Lady
In a gorgeous 50's style dress at FarmToTable Lunch For Spouses Of World Leaders

BADEN BADEN, GERMANY - APRIL 03:  U.S First Lady Michelle Obama (L) and U.S President Barack Obama (R) pose as they arrive to attend the opening of the NATO summit at the Kurhaus on April 3, 2009 in Baden Baden, Germany. Heads of state, foreign ministers and defence ministers of the 28 NATO member countries are participating in the summit from April 3-4 in Strasbourg, Kehl and Baden Baden to mark the 60th anniversary of the transatlantic military and political organization.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Wearing a fantastic formal vintage style dress with a tiered lace skirt at NATO 2009.

2. No fear of sleevelessness or showing off her amazing arms.

NORTH LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 01: First lady Michelle Obama is introduced at a get-out-the-vote rally for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) at Canyon Springs High School November 1, 2010 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Recent polls show Reid, who is seeking his fifth term, four points behind Republican challenger Sharron Angle. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
In a chic sleeveless top at a Get Out The Vote Rally In Las Vegas

WASHINGTON - JUNE 04: U.S. first lady Michelle Obama harvests vegetables during an event as part of the Chefs Move! To Schools initiative at the White House Kitchen Garden June 4, 2010 in Washington, DC. The first lady called on chefs to adopt a school and work with teachers, parents, school nutritionists and administrators to educate kids about food and nutrition. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
In the White House Vegetable Garden in a beautiful green sleeveless top

3. Rocks her height.

Miyuki Hatoyama Michelle Obama Yukio Hatoyama and Barack Obama 20090923
By U.S. Department of State Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In a gorgeous sheath dress and proud heels with Prime Minister Miyuki Hatoyama, Yukio Hatoyama, and the President.

Barack Obama Michelle Obama Queen Elizabeth II Buckingham Palace London
By White House (Pete Souza) / Maison Blanche (Pete Souza) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In a full skirt and cardigan, towering over the Queen of England

4. Mixes patterns!

Nancy Reagan with Michelle Obama cropped
By The Official White House Photostream; Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton (P060309SA-0498) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In stripes and floral with Nancy Reagan

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 01:  First lady Michelle Obama arrives in Downing Street on April 1, 2009 in London. Obama is on his first trip to the UK as President and will be attending G20 world leaders
Beading and gingham while visiting England.

5. Loves a great neckline!

WASHINGTON - MAY 19: First lady Michelle Obama smiles as she and her husband U.S President Barack Obama wait for Mexican President Felipe Calderon and his wife Margarita Zavala to arrive for a State Dinner at the White House on May 19, 2010 in Washington, DC. President Obama welcomed President Calderon to the White House today for an official state visit that is taking place amid tension over immigration politics and Mexico
In a beautiful one-shoulder blue dress at Mexican State Dinner.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: U.S. first lady Michelle Obama waits for Chinese President Hu Jintao to arrive for a State dinner at the White House January 19, 2011 in Washington, DC. Obama and Hu met in the Oval Office earlier in the day. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
In a fabulous asymetrical neckline dress at the State Dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao

6. Uses color wisely.


WASHINGTON - JANUARY 27: U.S. first lady Michelle Obama looks on before her husband U.S. President Barack Obama
Amazing eggplant at the State of the Union Address.

WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 13:  U.S. first lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks during an East Room event November 13, 2009 at the White House in Washington, DC. The event focused on the issues older women are facing in the health insurance market.    (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Speaking at the White House in phenomenal yellow.

7. Knows how to use accessories.


WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 02:  First lady Michelle Obama applauds during an event to kick off a White House leadership and mentoring initiative in the State Dining Room at the White House November 2, 2009 in Washington, DC. The program provides local high school students the opportunity to discuss career paths with members of the White House staff, including White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers, White House Domestic Policy Adviser Melody Barnes and others.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Speaking at the White House in a fantastic belt.

Rocking a great brooch at the G8 Summit.

8. She reinvents the classics.


BADEN BADEN, GERMANY - APRIL 03:  U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle wave upon their arrival as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her husband Joachim Sauer look on before bilateral talks on April 3, 2009 in Baden Baden, Germany. The two leaders were meeting shortly before a summit of the 28 NATO member countries, which is taking place April 3-4 in Strasbourg, Kehl and Baden Baden on the 60th anniversary of the transatlantic military and political organization.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Meeting Chancellor Merkel in a perfect sheath dress.

WASHINGTON - MAY 27: U.S President Barack Obama (R), first lady Michelle (C), and Vice President Joseph Biden (L) watch performance during a reception in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month May 27, 2010 in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. The reception was to celebrate Jewish American heritage and its contributions to American culture. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month in fabulous polka dots.

I love that Mrs.Obama mixes high-end and regular-person clothes (like the H&M dress she wore on the Today show last week). I also love that she wears the same items multiple times, in multiple ways. That beautiful beaded cardigan she wore with the gingham skirt in England? She wore it with also wore it an an all-cream ensemble to speak on the history of White House state dinners:

WASHINGTON -  NOVEMBER 24:  First Lady Michelle Obama sits with students attending a preview of tonight

The coral and white floral cardigan she pattern mixed in the photo with Nancy Reagan? She also wore it at a gardening event she held at the White House:

WASHINGTON - JUNE 16:  U.S. first lady Michelle Obama harvests vegetables from the White House Kitchen Garden with students from Bancroft Elementary School on the South Lawn of the White House June 16, 2009 in Washington, DC. The first lady later sat down to a meal with the children with the lettuce and snap peas harvested from the garden to focus attention on health and nutrition.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Most of all, though, I love that she dresses in a way that makes it clear that she's happy with and proud of her not-stick-thin body. She picks mostly classic styles and shapes, she doesn't shy from color or from black, and she wears everything with extraordinary confidence. She's definitely a style icon.


I couldn't agree with you more. I want to be her when I grow up.

She is gorgeous. But, eh, so are you!

Yeay Michelle and the cardigan! So much easier to work with wardrobe-wise than a jacket or blazer. Would love to see Michelle do a Uniform Project, too. She's the perfect one to make an impact in the name of fashion.

Second over-long fashion comment of the day:

OK, I am on neither side of the Michelle-Obama-style-debates (I think she wears lovely clothes, but that she chooses things that wear HER) and I think the people who try to pick her apart and say she can't dress obviously haven't been looking at first ladies for very long--compared to Laura and Hillary, she's Audrey Hepburn.

But will someone PLEASE send the woman some gardening clothes? Please? I may be turning into my grandmother, but it hurts to look at her out there like that. You didn't post the gardening-in-black-chiffon photo, but the matchy-coral is pretty bad.

Perhaps she didn't have time to change after the lunch with Nancy Reagan? But all I can think is that she got tired of being told "put on a pair of jeans if you're going to go dig in the dirt, Michelle!" when she was a little girl, and now that she's the first lady, if she wants to ruin a pair of tailored stretch-cotton slacks, nobody can tell her what to do. I had a few years where I HAD to fill up on bread in restaurants, because I was getting over a childhood of being told not to; I can relate.

(Seriously, Grace, that and the green sleeveless shirt photo are two of about twenty pics of this woman gardening in wildly inappropriate clothes. There absolutely has to be a story there somewhere. Like, is this what the people on "what not to wear" have to garden in after Stacy and Clinton have thrown away all their sensible clothing? Inquiring minds.)

I forgot about the shorts! Yeah, that puts me back on her side then, stylewise. I still think she tries way too hard and needs to hike the belts down to slightly less Urkel-ish waist heights, but with how much she gets picked apart, she pulls it off pretty well.

On a related but totally different topic: YOU love belts over cardigans, I love belts over cardigans, Mrs. Obama loves belts over cardigans, but is it one of those trends that's going to look ridiculously dated in a few years? Like pegged jeans?

Re: The belt outdated-ness - I have a feeling it'll become TOTALLY outdated in a few years and our kids'll be horrified at pictures of us in belts over ANYTHING. That is my guess :P

I had no idea Michelle was so tall! Or had such a huge wardrobe! You can tell she puts a lot of thought and effort into her outfits, although none of them are what I would wear, I can definitely admire her style.

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