Michelle Obama’s Style Choices Send A Strong Message
The sartorial choices of women in politics are all too frequently emphasized in place of their professional accomplishments in the media. Michelle Obama, however, is something of an expert at using her wardrobe to propel her message forward. Her fondness of shopping at J. Crew and Target has helped secure her status as a relatable mom, but Mrs. Obama is equally at ease in the high fashion world and has used her life in the public eye to support up-and-coming American designers. She is a not a “reluctant style icon,” but a powerful, intelligent woman who cares about politics and enjoys fashion, too.
At the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Mrs. Obama delivered a powerful speech focusing on her life with Barack, the concerns of the middle class, and ultimately, the triumph of the American dream. She stunned the audience in a pink brocade dress by Tracy Reese, a self-made African-American businesswoman whose ready-to-wear label has become a favorite of the First Lady. The decision to wear one of Reese’s designs, which fall on the more accessible end of the designer spectrum (dresses typically retail between $200 and $400), was a wise move for a speech that drew strength from personal anecdotes of the Obama family’s own struggle to make ends meet. Her shoes were from J. Crew, an upscale but accessible store that can be found in almost any American mall.
While Mrs. Obama’s support of Tracy Reese is an example of dresses that can be found in department stores finding their place in the closet of the First Lady, the story of Jason Wu is evidence of Michelle Obama’s influence making its way from the runway to the closets of the average American woman. Wu, who was born in Taiwan and later emigrated to the United States, saw his career take off after Mrs. Obama wore his designs for high-profile occasions such as an interview with Barbara Walters during the 2008 election, the 2009 inaugural ball, and the cover of Vogue. In early 2012, Wu released a collaboration with Target that had customers lining up outside stores in anticipation of its release – an amazing feat for a 29-year-old designer whose name was barely known four years ago.
The success stories of Reese and Wu certainly fit in with the Obamas’ narrative of hard work, optimism, and keeping the American dream alive, and Michelle Obama’s ability to marry style with her message is refreshing. Powerful women are often met with a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario when it comes to their appearances: an interest or a lack of interest in fashion are both widely considered fair game for scrutiny, and it’s long overdue for that to change.
What do you think of Obama’s outfit for her speech at the DNC? Do you think her fashion choices send a strong message to the American people? Join our discussion in the comments below!
Written by Tricia Gilbride