She has style, she has grace. She was Mrs. United States. Former First Lady Michelle Obama optimized elegance and poise throughout her time occupying the White House. The Obama’s have officially left the building and Mrs. Obama’s legacy as a style icon has altered the status quo when it comes to being a sensible, yet stylish boss lady.
From J.Crew to Jason Wu, Michelle Obama has worn it all. But for the viewers who kept up with the Michelle O. Style blog or tracked her outfits on Pinterest, it was not so much about the luxury brands she wore, it was how she made fashion fun again on the political scene.
While we can trust that Mrs.Obama will always serve us with a great pop-of-color cardigan or printed A-line dress, we will never forget the show stopping fashion moment at the final State Dinner in 2016.
Mrs. Obama wore a dazzling floor-length chainmail rose-gold Atelier Versace gown. She stunned the world with detailed draping at the bodice, a scrunched fabric waistline, with a simple slit in the front that helped show off her silver heels.
Capturing the eyes of American’s all over with her fashion sense, Mrs. Obama bought in her husband’s presidency in a navy silk jacquard, Thom Browne jacket and dress on inauguration day in 2013.
The custom made knee-length checkered pattern jacket specially tailored and designed by Browne accented the former First Lady’s pleated dress.
James Rosier, a senior broadcast journalism student and founder of lifestyle consulting company Revived by Rozier, admires how true Mrs. Obama stayed to herself even while serving looks.
“If you take into context the different patterns and different color choices that Michelle chose, I would call her an SBI-an of the day,” said Rosier. “She was a navy blue kind of girl, she was a charcoal gray kind of girl, she was red passion kind of girl, and even worked with shades of purple. She really made fashion work for her position.”
Through her style choices, the world was offered a glimpse of her personality beyond press conferences and public appearances. This made her likable and relatable. It makes her feel human despite her place of authority.
Miss FAMU’s own Amberly Williams, a senior biology pre-dental student from Midway, Fla., draws daily fashion inspiration from Mrs. Obama as the First Lady of Florida A&M University.
“I love everything she has worn from the time Barack Obama was a Senator up until he became the 44th President of the United States,” said Williams. “I try to look at her style and make it my own. She inspires the modern day woman to feel like a celebrity, and I think that is was has allowed her to be so different from all of the other first ladies. ”
Forbes magazine’s Vanessa Friedman said, “Unlike any other first lady, instead of seeing [fashion] as part of a uniform to which she had to conform…she saw it as a way to frame her own independence and points of difference, add to her portfolio and amplify her husband’s agenda.”
Mrs. Obama used fashion as a means to connect with people, but her impact goes far beyond the designer threads she sported over the years. She urged our country to take healthy living seriously with her Let’s Move campaign, which reinforced the importance of educating women through Let Girls Learn and worked on behalf of military families through Joining Forces initiative made jointly with Joe Biden.
In 2009, Glamour magazine honored her with the Special Recognition Award for being a glamorous style icon and a role model to women as both a mother, wife and social advocate.
FAMU Fashion Vault President Dajah Dorn, a junior graphic design student from Jacksonville, believes that Mrs. Obama’s style choices helped push forth her husband’s–as well as her own–political platform.
“In modern times, she got a lot more attention for the way that she dressed because that’s what our generation pays attention too,” said Dorn. “People are more likely to support a man who is smart and ambitious but also has a happy beautiful woman next to him, and you could just tell she was happy.”
Simply put, Michelle Obama took fashion to the next level. Her choice of dress when it came to state dinners and visits to foreign embassies eventually was coined as “sartorially diplomatic” or democratic in dress.
It was no coincidence that she wore Chinese American designer, Vera Wang, to the Chinese State dinner, a stunning black mermaid dress with sheer off the shoulder straps. Or a long sleeve pink and green floral Gucci ball gown to the Kennedy Center Honors the same day Italy was undergoing a referendum election for former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Michelle Obama will go down in history among the Jackie O’s and Princess Diana’s of the world. Her ability to to use fashion as a medium to connect with the American people is just a testament to the poise and intellect she exhibited as the first lady of the free world.
If anything, she has most definitely set the bar for First Lady Mrs. Melania Trump.