Mrs-O.com is a blog dedicated to chronicling the fashion and style of First Lady Michelle Obama. Founded September 2008. 


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What Laura B. Wore

 White House photo by Susan Sterner; Design by Oscar de la Renta

We have to credit The Daily Beast and editor Hailey Eber for having good foresight into the inaugural gown mania. Just days after the election, and a good month before the WWD sketches appeared, The Daily Beast debuted the results of "The Ball Gown Challenge". They had briefed former Project Runway contestants to design an inaugural gown that was "at once stylish, patriotic and appropriately thrifty for the recession" using only Laura Bush’s 2005 Inaugural Ball dress, an American flag, burlap sacks and $10 worth of trim.

We must admit, the first question we had to ask was: What did Laura Bush wear to the 2005 Inaugural Ball? Though surely we had seen the gown before, it had failed to leave a strong impression. After some thoughtful examination, we find that Mrs. Bush's 2005 gown certainly does merit a second look. The silver and blue embroidered tulle sparkler of a dress was far from forgettable. A custom Oscar de la Renta creation, made especially to suit her style, Mrs. Bush's gown radiated a winter mood, with the shimmer of just fallen snow. It was elegant, timeless and perfect for her (and perhaps taking a leap, we get the distinct sense that she felt beautiful wearing it). Without question, it was an exciting departure from the more expected and safe patriotic red Chantilly lace and satin gown by Dallas designer Michael Faircloth, worn for the 2001 Inaugural Ball. 

Also exceptional was Mrs. Bush's ensemble for the 2005 Inaugural Parade. Again wearing Oscar de la Renta, her winter white cashmere embroidered coat (and matching boucle dress) instantly popped against the sea of dark overcoats. In a glowing review of Mrs. Bush's inaugural wardrobe, Robin Givhan of the Washington Post said Mrs. Bush's choice of winter white suggested "a certain chic understanding that restraint can be the most powerful form of expression" - an eloqeunt assessment that may well hold true for Mrs. O come January 20, 2009.

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Reader Comments (10)

Laura Bush looked lovely. Oscar De La Renta has done a good job for First Ladies.

Sunday, December 28, 2008 at 8:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterLisa

She looked so beautiful in these dresses! I always thought these kinds of soft colors (winter white, silver) were her best. I wish she wore them more! This '05 Innaugural parade look is one that's always stood out in my mind.

Sunday, December 28, 2008 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnusha

The white day suit designed by Oscar De La Renta was part of First Ladies: Political Role and Public Image last year at the National Constitution Center. It's beautiful.

Sunday, December 28, 2008 at 6:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterMonica

Mrs Bush looked very lovely in both these outfits...

however, in breaking with the conventional mode, I really hope Mrs O. does not wear white, and is not "safe" in her choice

ps: I hope everyone has a safe and lovely new year!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008 at 10:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterLayG

The sketches are fabulous, and I love the coat in the second photo, but they both look a little chunky in the first photo...


Monday, December 29, 2008 at 11:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterKristan

She looks lovely in both looks. I especially love the coat and dress. I'm a big fan of Winter White. Just beautiful.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 2:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterSimone

Mrs. Bush looked beautiful, as always.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 5:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerri

too bad Mrs. Obama will NOT be as soft and feminine as Mrs. Bush.

There is some sort of harshness to her face, the way she walks and they way she sounds. sorry no fan of her YET!

Saturday, January 3, 2009 at 1:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterLorif

Hey Lorif, Michelle Obama's stunning face, gait, and, voice won't ever change (thank goodness)to meet your hollow, capricious standards , so you won't ever be a fan. But don't apologize -- your opinion isn't worth a scratch anyway! Cheers!

Back on topic: Laura Bush picked a winner in 2005. She is absolute perfection in that dress!

Sunday, January 4, 2009 at 3:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMare

I respectfully disagree with Lorif's assessment of Mrs Obama. I think Mrs Obama projects the positive, exciting energy of the women of her generation. I trust that Lorif agrees that Mrs Obama is certainly one of her generation's most accomplished and fulfilled. After all, she is about to take on one of the best jobs in the world! I look forward to Jan 20 with all of its historic moments, to say nothing of what will likely be its hotly debated fashion twists.

Monday, January 12, 2009 at 12:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterBridget

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