First lady, leading fashion icon

The red and black dress Michelle Obama wore on election night led so many women to admire her as a fashion icon. 

The stunning red dress she wore on her first visit to the White House defined her sense of fashion.

The unforgettable ensemble she wore on inauguration day, which included that diamond-accented neckline and those deep-green colored gloves with matching heels, served as a beautiful complement to her graceful demeanor. 

With her trendy yet conservative attire, Obama is sending the message women can be flashy without being trashy. She prevails as the only first lady since Jackie O. Kennedy to have such an influence on what women wear.

“She is always on point, even her hair and her shoes,” said David Brown, Jr., 23, graduate student from St. Petersburg, who has worked as a model.

Obama debunks the myth that American women can only look smashing dressed in clothes from French and Italian designers.

She made a conscious decision to wear clothes created by American designers, like 26-year-old Jason Wu, who designed Obama’s inauguration-ball dress.

“American designers have just as much talent as foreign designers,” said Wanda Brown, an apparel design professor at Florida State University.

Andrea Tedder sees the work of American designers in her role as customer service manager at Michelle’s in Pensacola, a boutique that caters to a large clientele of African-American women.

“Michelle Obama broke the standard of only going with certain [foreign] designers and that brings a sense of down-to-earth quality to her,” Tedder said.

Obama is known not only for her down-to-earth quality but also for her unique physique. She stands at 5 feet 10 inches, and wears dress size 8 to 10.

“Michelle Obama doesn’t have [what is socially considered to be] the perfect American figure, and I appreciate the fact that we can finally look to someone who isn’t a size zero,” Brown said.

But it is not just what she wears, it’s the colors she chooses. Typically, for tall women like Obama, wearing bold, vivid colors is taboo.

“Women of her stature tend to dress in dark colors, but the fact that she is not afraid to wear colors will encourage other women to step outside the box,” Tedder said.

Although Obama wears bright colors, she retains a conservative style, a trend many feel is long over due.