Among many other things that she so relatably revealed in her new bestselling book ‘Becoming’, former first lady Michelle Obama shares some rather interesting details about the process of choosing the right wardrobe as America’s first lady. This remarkable woman has always been a force to reckon when it comes to fashion but, not for the conventional reasons. Now that she’s left the White House, the power woman we know and love still shines radiantly, only that she’s let down her hair and she looks terrific in a bustier. As the first lady of the most influential country in the world, her fashion choices certainly presented an image for society’s women or hinted at an idea of how women should look. While that idea may have been ridiculously overplayed, Michelle Obama navigated those treacherous waters quite admirably, making defining statements even with all the invisible constructs that the rest of the world was oblivious to.

Michelle Obama for the December issue of ELLE Magazine.

Quite a thin line to walk when your every motive and meaning is ascertained by what you wear. Mrs Obama quite expertly managed to stay unpredictable in terms of her choices, already quite aware of how intentions and non-intentions speak volumes when the whole world is watching you. She said “It seemed that my clothes mattered more to people than anything I had to say…Optics governed more or less everything in the political world, and I factored this into every outfit.” Enlisting the help of stylist, Meredith Koop with whom she has shared a lasting, close relationship since her second year in the White House, Mrs Obama successfully steered conversations in the way they should go with the power of her wardrobe. Mixing high-end labels with mainstream brands and using her influence to help celebrate American designers, especially those who were new to the industry, Mrs Obama’s fashion era was successfully launched.

One could make an argument for how the imbalance of gender bias and political correctness put Mrs. Obama on the receiving end, as a puppet. One could say how wrong it is for people, majorly women, to be so shortsighted as not to see her beyond her clothes in a way that would have liberated her and allowed her self-expression through fashion. What’s more, all these arguments would be valid considering that the woman in question is a brilliant intellectual with plenty to say. Rather, she turned the narrative around, making fashion also about the values it represents and inspiring a generation of women while at it.

Michelle Obama in 2012.

Michelle Obama speaking to High School students in November


Michelle Obama promoting her new book ‘Becoming’ on Oprah Winfrey’s show


To say that Michelle Obama is a fashion icon is quite astute. If she had merely dressed as she should, she would have been loved regardless. Current first lady Melania Trump with all the endless backlash she receives for her fashion choices is enough proof that dressing to observe sartorial protocols borders on a thin line between hit and miss.  Michelle Obama was described as “sartorially diplomatic” and democratic for the way she sampled from several designers to find a balance, for the way she used her leverage to give others a platform and for the way she succinctly understood and employed fashion as a medium and a tool. Her method spoke a resonant message, cementing her place not just as a fashion icon, but as a monument to global change, progress and inclusivity.

‘Becoming’ available  for purchase since November 13, 2018.


Images via ELLE Magazine and Instagram.

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