Musings on the culture of keeping up appearances

All the Rage

« Previous Post | All The Rage Home | Next Post »

Michelle Obama, first lady of style

Michelle_obama_4

Move over, Carla Bruni, there's a new fashion first lady on the scene.

The black-and-red Narciso Rodriguez dress that Michelle Obama wore in Chicago last night was another daring fashion choice, a straight-from-the spring-runway style that she paired with a black cardigan. The blogs are burning up with opinions about it (most of them negative), but I liked it -- the symbolism of patriotic red bursting out of black like a firecracker out of the night sky.

Next to Jill Biden in her skirt suit, Obama looked like a breath of chic air. Something tells me that Washington is about to become a very stylish place.

The comparisons to Jackie Kennedy are really off the mark. Kennedy's style was rooted in Paris, in the haute couture dresses she worked with Oleg Cassini to replicate.

Michelle may know how to rock a strand of pearls, but she has her own approach to style. Over the past few months, she has mixed designer dresses from young American fashion talents such as Rodriguez and Thakoon Panichgul with cheap-chic finds from J. Crew and H&M, which is a much more modern way to dress than wearing head-to-toe designer. Even if you could afford to spend $150,000 in one month on a designer wardrobe, would you want to? Not if you are a sensible woman and a real fashion enthusiast, someone who enjoys the thrill of the hunt for that perfect $30 black-and-white Gap sundress Obama wore on the Fourth of July. (The Times' Stephanie Lysaght has pulled together a few fashion moments from the campaign here.)

Dresses are becoming a Michelle Obama signature. By choosing to wear them so much of the time, she has set herself apart from all the St. John pantsuit-wearing Washington insiders. Dresses look wonderful on her, accenting her height and her figure, showing off her legs. They are easy too, since you don't have to worry about a matching blouse or jacket.

Just think of all the designers salivating over the idea of making her inaugural gown. You can bet it won't be a traditional choice from Oscar de la Renta or Carolina Herrera, but it will be fabulous.

-- Booth.Moore@latimes.com

Booth Moore is the Los Angeles Times fashion critic

Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

 
Comments () | Archives (104)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Dems gave Palin a hard time for her expensive wardrobe (funded by the RNC), yet this Narsisco dress probably cost at least $2000 from Niemans/Saks/Barney's. Where is all the hullaballoo about Michelle's spending on her wardrobe? Who paid for that dress? I think we'll be seeing a very fancy Michelle in DC. The J Crew and Gap were disguises for the real wardrobe we are about to see! What 40 yr old professional, ivy league educated woman wears that stuff?

This dress looked awful on her, she does need a fashion expert to make her look a bit more polished. After all, she is now the first lady!

I love Michelle's fashion sense but i don't care for the dress she chose last night. The criss-cross and the panels on the side make her look chunkier than she is... my opinion.

/sue

You know, I was surprised that Mrs. Obama chose that particular dress. Still, she can choose whatever she would like to wear!

I was not crazy about the design of the dress. The colors were nice enough. Michelle O. usually looks elegant and stylish all of the time. She is a lovely lady. I just wouldn't have picked that dress myself on that particular night. (I've got to say though it went nicely with what the girls wore!)

God bless the Obama family and CONGRATULATIONS! We are the luckiest and most blessed nation in the world right now!

Dress was horrible. Like tie-dye. Bad Feng-Shui. Gave me a headache. By the way, who pays for her clothes?

I think the dress was fine and everybody that posted their little petty comments on this site need to get beyond the animosity/hostility and get a life!!! It should be obvious by now that the Obamas are doing something right obviously if he earned the title of presidential-elect. GET OVER YOURSELVES PEOPLE!!!!!!!! We should be more concerned with the issues instead of knocking Mrs.Obama's wardrobe. YOU ALL SHOULD HAVE BEEN COACHING PALIN INSTEAD!

Michelle Obama is a beautiful, stately woman. It's a shame she is listening to whoever is telling her that dress looked good. If it's "Narciso", then take him for how he is named (self-love, stuck-up, ditch him, and find someone who wants to make HER look good. Maybe it looked stunning on a mannequin, or even in person, but on camera, she looked like a black widow which isn't the image we need of her right now. It was unflattering and too busy trying to mix the artistry of the "dyed silk look" with that horrendous addition of the geometrical midsection. If this is supposed to reflect the artistry of young, trendy, american designers, then I sincerely hope Michelle gets wind of some of the criticisms and sticks to the more mature designers who can design beautiful cloths that flatter her. Maybe Oprah will be brutally honest with her and will loan Michelle her stylist...

Michelle looks much better in the solid color, more simple dresses she chooses more often. The runway pic of the victory night dress looks not too bad on the model, but not good for Michelle. She's a classy looking lady and doesn't need anything flashier than her smile and some pearls to complete the picture.

She looks like a black widow spider ....

Michelle's dress last night (and at the convention)absolutely did not look good. Conjured thoughts of Halloween for me also. Solid colors with punch of accents in appropriate location (around neck/shoulders) and acessories will accentuate her statue, her beautiful smile and grace. (get the team from "What Not to Wear" and they will put her together to bring out her best attributes). So far it looks like other are interested in getting their products seen and not what's best for the person wearing it or the occasion. So far everyone looks good around her including the kids. Her look is too way out there for the important role she will play in history. What she is wearing shouldn't be a distraction but an asset.

I thought Michelle's dress looked like she either had an explosive period or had been shot. Poor taste for such an event.

That dress was absolutely hideous and looked like a halloween costume. Now that she is going to be our First Lady, she desperately needs to get a new and competent stylist who will do her justice. There wasn't anything stylish about that dress. It was simply dreadfull and was the worst outfit of all that I've seen her wear during this campaign. (and what's with the yucky flowers or oversized pins on previous dresses that all looked the same?) I've become so accustomed to her lack of style, I commented to a friend before the President-Elect and family entered the stage at Grant Park that I wondered aloud just how ugly her outfit was going to be. I hope someone will soon persuade her to get some fashionable clothing instead of the 'trash-able' outfits she's worn. I think the only worse dress I've ever seen on a celebrity was the hideous 'swan dress' on the Red Carpet several years ago that looked like a dead swan's neck draped hanging around the actress' neck.

When it comes to fashion and style, Michelle is no Jackie O or Princess Di and as tired as we were of seeing Hillary in pants suits they were still sophisticated and stylish. Michelle should be wearing clothing that won't detract from the message or occasion. We should be concentrating on the leadership role she is going to serve for our Nation instead of wardrobe malfunctions! In this case, the wardrobe malfunction was taking it off of the hangar.

She looked like a giant black widow with satan eyebrows.

Who paid for this dress?

I thought she was beautiful and I liked her dress. She is definitely the hottest first lady we've had in decades.

I feel this is good sign of one of the great First Ladies being unique. Wear something different start a trend. Not fitting in with the stereotype all First Ladies wear suits.

One of a kind dress for a one of kind woman. She looks good in it and is well proportioned on her figure. I'd like to see what the back of the dress looks like.

I feel this is a sign of being one of the great first ladies,being unique. Not fitting in with the stereotype all first ladies wear suits.

I feel this is a sign of being one of the great first ladies,being unique. Not fitting in with the stereotype all first ladies wear suits.

Can we please be honest for a sec here? The First Lady is a little bit Sasquatch like. It's not hard to tell who;s the pretty one in their relationship.

I thought the dress made her look nine months pregnant--all you saw was that red stomach. It was very distracting. Definitely not a good choice for television. But I remember when Bill Clinton was elected, Hillary needed a LOT of help in the fashion department. There's hope!

Historic,haunting and hugely equivocal!That black dress reflected a passion for flair and the flair for standing out in politics by doing what was unpredictable.
Michelle has the height,the elegance and gorgeous legs to carry off her dresses with savoire faire!
In India in my staffroom at school we were swooning over it!Here's to many more soirees!!!!

Don't know how you can say: "Dresses look wonderful on her, accenting her height and her figure, showing off her legs." Every time I see her she seems to wear something that makes her hips look too wide. She is truly a beautiful woman but does not look comfortable in the clothes I see her in.

I am all for her more being stylish than the predictable and conservative women who are in politics, but it can be done in a more subtle and classy manner.

My husband and I both had the same thought at the same time -- she dressed up like a black widow spider.

Everyone seems to have forgotten that the Obamas are in mourning....and a bright color, albeit for an election, is not really appropriate. I think she did a fine job.

When she walked out onto the stage I found Mrs. Obama's dress refreshing, vibrant, electric, chic, cool, and a step away from what we usually see on first ladies. Bravo, for change, inspiration, and daring beauty. Her choice to put a cardigan on it, brought in the conservative, politician's wife touch, which didn't quite go with the dress as it was conceived, but I think who she is and the event for which it was worn pulled that off, even if it did look a bit awkward. Just the opinion of a fashion lover...

The dress looks like an accident. As if she walked into a wall of red paint. On the biggest night of your life you where something like that? She may be the black widow, because she sure runs her household. She wouldn't have left my house with that dress on!

Obviously the entire family was coordinated in red and black down to Barack's tie, as was the entire McCain-Palin defeat party all adorned in gold and navy blue. This seems to be the way of the over-choreographed made-for-TV campaigns.

As for Michelle's dress, the color fade was overly trendy and not flattering. It's the first thing I've seen her wear that didn't work.

I thought Michelle's dress, and the attire of the whole family, complimented the evening flawlessly. Barrack looked patriotic in his navy suit, white shirt, and red and white striped tie. The strong red presence on Michelle patriotically balanced the blue of Barrack's suit. The red on her dress also evoked a sense of fireworks and celebration, while the black communicated the sense of mourning the family must have carried from the loss of Barrack's grandmother two days prior. The cut and style of Michelle's dress flattered her figure beautifully, and the girls' dresses gave a sense of family unity. Just like their life choices, the Obama family's clothing choices continued to be classy, tasteful, and unpretentious.

LOVED THE DRESS!...........I MUST HAVE ONE FOR MYSELF!!!! WHERE CAN I FIND IT!!!!????!!

Her election dress was horrible, which was sad, because she's a beautiful woman but she looked like the freakin Cat in the Hat! The red blob on her stomach made her look FAT and she's NOT! What was she thinking?? She needs a NY stylist for sure!

As for myself who was born & raised on Capital Hill, thinks that Michelle Obama is not First Lady material.
Hopefully someone will be able to instill the correct
ways of being a First Lady, after all, all eyes everywhere
will be on her to see how she carries herself. I can
only hope she will do this country proud. & oh yes, she is
no Jackie Kennedy.

OK, I don't see fireworks. I see nothing whatsoever patriotic about this President elect and his family. A president who won't salute the flag, a wife that has a very militant spirit! What has our country come to?! Can't anyone see through this facade?! God save us!!! We need a president & first lady who exemplify what the US stands for and represents! We definitely did not get it right this time. As for the dress, my first impression was that of a Black Widow Spider. How fitting!? But really, who cares what she wears. She is definitely no Jacki O and never will be.

"Black Widow" is NOT a style that the new first family should encourage as it attempts to re-establish Camelot. Yes, a red hourglass on a black belly is a striking image. But when worn by the new Jackie Kennedy in her inaugural appearance as First Lady, it's choice is ghastly at best....obscenely suggestive at worst.

I didn't know they sold Narciso at Target -I will have to make a trip - yeah right..if we are going to snipe about wardrobe costs - do it across the board - why is okay for Michelle to wear expensive clothes but then destroy the republicans for doing the same? Because she mixes a "cheap" JCrew cardigan with expensive designer pieces she is a "breath of fresh air"? -the hypocrisy astounds me. Hillary Clinton is dressed by Oscar de la Renta ALL the time - including her inauguration gown but do we hear any bithching? NO...Michelle has been photographed wearing Oscar de la Renta, Missoni, Ralph Lauren (Black Label), and now Narcisco - all of which I consider to be extremely expensive unless the press considers $3,000 sheath dresses "well -priced".
This is the kind of bias that we are all SICK of seeing in the press - if you claim to report the news fairly and without bias - do it but this a prime of example of why you should never believe everything you read...a travesty.

Michelle's dress was satanic!. Bad choice for a future First Lady of the USA.

I think MICHELLE OBAMA needs to take a few classes
on dressing like a first lady now that her husband is PREZ.... She wore the UGLIEST dresses during the campaign... maybe Narciso Rodriguez can steer her in the right direction..... And then again..... Maybe not...
What an EYE SORE that UUUGLY DRESS WAS.....
YUK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111

I loved her dress. Michelle has wide hips and a small waistline, yes she has a blackwoman shape. I hope she never loses weight to the point that she is straight up and down with no curves like most ideal weight people. I hope designers will make dresses that show her curves with a booty like us.

I think Michelle is a breath of fresh air. The entire soon-to-be first family is a breath of fresh air. I hope she continues to be who she is. Her fashion and style are all part of the CHANGE we voted for.

it's not the best dress she could wear, but it's not the worse. Whats's wrong with wearing a low budget dress? By Golly Wow! She will be wearing some pretty good looking dresses and gowns in the future. I hope she gets them designed to show and fit her Black-Woman-Booty-Shape.

To me she looks like a black widow. If you look at a picture of a black widow, and her dress, they are the same. Nothing bad meant here; I'm sure she didn't want that look but it's there nonetheless...not at all flattering.

Sheep, do yourselves a favor and look up her style prior to Obama's run. Check out the expensive and beautiful clothes she wore. Gives Cindy a good run for her money and has it all over Sarah who shops in a consignment shop. And that ugly dress, it wasn't cheap, it probably cost the amount that the campaign spent on the five Palin's. All 5 Palin's. Those clothes she never asked for, didn't want, and went to charity. That were in more than one size because no one asked her if she wanted them. Yes, make yourselves feel good about that expensive dress being hideous. She'll be back in her regular clothes, and they don't come from J. Crew. What total idiots you are. Didn't bother to research anything did you?

You know that everyone here who made a negative comment about Michelle's dress, is republican, obviously still fuming from the democrat's victory. Get over it, won't ya!!

please get this woman a new stylist and a personal trainer

Mrs. Obama is a tall, graceful woman with a great figure. And I loved the runway version of this dress, but she had it altered to add more fabric on the bodice and to lower the hem - and then added the cardigan. I think Narisco Rodriguez should have taken control and help edit her choice. Either a different gorgeous dress that covered her more, or re-designed his gown so it worked properly. But who cares? She's gorgeous, the kids are cute and well-behaved and Obama is a brilliant man who will take this country out of the wilderness we've wandered into.

She and her family looked great! The rest of you who are so condescending and angry, get over yourselves. Accept change. We all have to at some point in life.

Mrs Obama looked fabulous in that wonderful dress--like a Mark Rothko painting walking on stage. Today, I saw a magazine cut of the dress which showed the whole color pattern of the sleeveless dress. Perhaps it was a bit cool in Chicago Tuesday evening, thus the added sweater.
I'm so happy that we will see terrific style in the White House again.

This large, clumsy woman is going to represent our country to the entire world? How embarrassing! Someone needs to teach her how to walk like a lady, instead of with her legs spread apart as if she were wearing a dirty diaper. She rocks from left to right with every step she takes, almost like a duck--very unattractive. She also needs to ditch the pants that she wore on election day. They accented her enormous hips, thighs, rear end, and that huge gap between her legs. It doesn't matter if she acquires an excellent stylist and chic designers. . .if she can't walk like a graceful woman she will not be able to wear anything with grace and style, regardless of the elegance of the clothing. And, please, someone tell her not to appear in public with her hair pulled back with a plastic headband and a scrub brush ponytail. Ugh! Didn't she know that every media outlet would be there to photograph her as she voted for her husband on election day???

Is what she chose to wear that important? Doesn't matter one bit.

Michelle's dress was by Narciso Rodriguez. Narciso Rodriguez designed a t-shirt for the Obama campaign as part of his "Runway for Change" line (and it sold very well). I'm assuming Michelle was returning a favor by wearing and thereby promoting his most current line. It's a symbiotic relationship.

The most suprising thing is that the media seems to be overlooking this connection in order to focus on fashion (or feminism). It's just politics as usual.

I loved it I thought it was funky and cute and she has every right to express her-self that way

 
« | 1 2 3 | »


Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Video



Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.





Archives
 

Categories