Michelle Obama Dresses to Win


The wife of presidential candidate, Barack Obama, continues to get a thumbs up for her fashion sense.

Guy Trebay for International Herald Tribune takes a look at Michelle’s style.

When Obama and his wife triumphantly took the stage in St. Paul Tuesday to claim the Democratic presidential nomination, the candidate, dressed in one of the crisp, neutral suits that have made him a GQ darling, was momentarily upstaged by his wife, and not just because she knuckle-bumped him in front of the world.

What grabbed the eye was the sleeveless purple silk crepe sheath made for Obama by Maria Pinto, the former Geoffrey Beene assistant who has long been an Obama favorite. Simple in silhouette and, at about $900 retail, not the kind of garment most working-class voters can reasonably aspire to, the dress was immediately subject to water cooler dissection.

Unlikely as it seems, Michelle Obama, the corporate lawyer with a big education, a bigger résumé and a history of high earnings, can sometimes appear to be tempering her own strong personality with a modernized version of another era’s ladylike clothes.

It is possible, of course, at a time when campaign images are scrutinized by media sibyls as ardently as the entrails of birds were read by the ancients, to read too much into Michelle Obama’s grooming and wardrobe. Yet people who track these things see in her simple sheaths and Donna Reed flip, her streamlined silhouette and fondness for pearls, parallels with former occupants of the White House, women like the first Bush and Jacqueline Kennedy.

“Everyone knows that people respond to the way you look when you run for office,” André Leon Talley, an editor-at-large for Vogue, which featured Obama as an “It” girl in its April issue, said last week in an interview. “A black Camelot moment is the right moment for the Obamas,” he added. “And so the faux pearls, the A-line dresses, the Jackie flip are obviously all part of how her image strategy has evolved.”


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