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Should Michelle Obama borrow clothes and jewels like a celeb? Nancy Reagan couldn't.

January 20, 2009 |  2:00 pm

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Michelle Obama wore $17,000 diamond chandelier earrings designed by Loree Rodkin to the "We Are One" concert on Sunday — not a gift from her husband, but borrowed from a Chicago retailer. The next morning, dispatches were dutifully sent out from the publicist for Rodkin to let the press know whom to credit for her ear candy. How very red carpet.

Michelle Obama looked stunning, but should she be borrowing baubles like Kate Winslet on the eve of the Oscars? Or a former first lady who was a size 0? As reported in a 1988 Time article, a little more than two decades ago, Nancy Reagan got her manicured toe in hot water for borrowing designer clothes after having promised she would no longer do so. (Having seen her collection of James Galanos gowns at the Reagan library last year, I know that woman could shop ... or borrow.)  You see, back in 1982, she agreed to stop borrowing clothes — thanks to a pact created by the then-White House counsel and Office of Government Ethics — because the gifts or loans represented taxable income when the donors could benefit from her wearing them.

Now, that's a no-brainer. Already, the Maria Pinto, J. Crew and Black & White outfits Mrs. Obama has bought and worn have been major sellouts.  And her status as a style icon has been cemented by fashion critics and women alike, so she will be one to watch for fashion cues. Come tax day, she may have to report the "gifts" she borrowed as income.

Do you think the first lady should be calling in gowns and gems or pull out that credit card and rely on her own wardrobe? Tell us.

— Monica Corcoran

Photo credit: Getty Images

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