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


« Showing a Little Feith | Main | At Last, Mrs. O Wows in Jason Wu »

Wearing History on a Historical Day

Image used courtesy of Carole Tanenbaum Vintage Collection

There was much talk yesterday about the pin at Mrs. O's neckline during the inauguration ceremony. Some thought it was a necklace; others called it a collar on the Isabel Toledo dress. It turns out the piece is a Victorian paste pin, once meant as a sash decoration. It came from Carole Tanenbaum, who offers a premiere collection of vintage costume jewelry. We love that Mrs. O would wear a historical piece on such a historical day!

On her blog, Tanenbaum, who is based in Toronto, writes that she acquired the pin through a Florida dealer who said it came from a Palm Beach estate. Tanenbaum has never seen another piece like it and she believes it was probably made in England. The sash pin was purchased by Ikram Goldman (profiled on this site in "The Mix is the Message") and, one and a half months prior to the inauguration; it was sent back to Tanenbaum so that one stone could be replaced.

We did predict just last week that we might see Mrs. O in some vintage pieces some day, but we had no idea that that thought would materialize so quickly. Mrs. O showed great style, mixing the new (Isabel Toledo) with the vintage. What a grace note of history!

Reader Comments (31)

I loved it...being that she loves to wear brooches or some type of ornament on her clothing, I think its fitting that she elevated that style for the day with this vintage piece...very smart

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterLayo G

She definitely "mixed" well. Her choice of jewelry was absolutely perfect. She is also showing how versitile pieces can be. A brooch doesn't just belong on a lapel...it was so strategically placed, most thought it was a part of the dress. A great fan of costume jewelry, I can't wait to go dust off some of my old pieces and pair them with the unexpected. Great piece Mrs. C

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterMrs J

Thank you for this new thread Mrs. C. The other one was getting toxic!

Anyway, I loved this piece. At first I thought it was part of the dress itself. It was a VERY inventive use of this pin. I loved the entire Toledo look.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoreen

They went to church this morning. Does anyone have a better picture of her than the one shown in this article? That dress looks amazing, but it's a really tiny pic.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaisy Paradise

Thank you, Mrs T! I'm more about jewelry than clothes, and have been dying to hear about the pieces Michelle wore yesterday. I love how she takes interesting, vintage pieces and makes them seem new! I'm going to dig through my grandmother's jewelry box for a brooch like this and start wearing it with cardigans -- it's a great look!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 1:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterChicagoan

Someone posted this in the other thread. Mrs. O's Toledo dress without the coat. You can really see how beautiful this pin is. And that cardigan is NOT Jcrew. It looks like something far more elevated.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJenna

Never mind - if you click on the pic it takes you to a slideshow with close-ups, though the pics are still small. Gorgeous! I wish I could wear flats without feeling like a frump.

(referring to this: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090121/ap_on_go_pr_wh/obama_day_one)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 1:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaisy Paradise

Daisy, yes that IS an amazing dress. It looks vintage. Here are some more pictures of it:



Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterElena

My Comment is "awaiting moderation" possibly because I posted two links. So I will try again with just one!

Daisy, here is another picture of Michelle's dress from this morning. I absolutely love it.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterElena

Not to move the white dress discussion over here BUT everyone HAS to look at this picture! It was posted by another commenter on the other thread and it's the best picture of it I have seen:


Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterJenna

I have a question Miss T. Will the swearing in lemongrass outfit that Mrs O wore yesterday be part of the Smithsonian Museum? If so, it will be one for the ages.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarilyne

Here's a closeup of the bodice- what a gorgeous print! Looks Asian in design...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohanna

I loved her looks yesterday. And the paste pin was just lovely.

Her dress this morning was unusual and lovely. I know there's a place for skirt suits and such, and many women in official Washington wear those suits very well. It's refreshing for me to see the First Lady in something new, different, and fun.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterBalt-O-Matt

Johanna, you're right it does look Asian. But it also reminds me of those abstract prints that Marimekko, the textile company in Finland, was so known for doing in the 1970's 60's. I am pretty sure it's a vintage dress. The silhouette is very 60's. It's so lovely and fresh.

Michelle seems to have gotten like 10 years younger since the campaign ended! She does NOT look 45 to me. She looks like she's in her early 30s.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoreen

She does look young and incredibly pretty in today's dress. How fabulous - a first lady with so much personality and style. What a handsome, brilliant, creative, inspiring couple.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterLainie

Thanks so much for the info on this piece. It was my favorite part of her outfit yesterday. Any info on the large diamond ring she wore to the balls would also be appreciated.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 3:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Mrs T, I know this is asking a lot... but you seem to be super-human in your ability to track info down!

Can you see what you can find out about Barack's watch? It's peeking out of his tuxedo sleeve in some of the photos you posted earlier, and I'm dying to know who the maker is.

Thank you in advance!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 3:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterChicagoan

Wow, I really thought that was part of the dress! It looked great and I loved her gold outfit. The brooch made it perfect.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBronze Trinity

Mrs. O just could not have looked lovelier in any of these outfits she chose. I am so thrilled to have a first lady who delights in fashion and enjoys making her own choices!

Thanks for this great blog- you have answered every question I've had before I've even bothered to google it. I was so glad to see info about that spectacular pin! Keep up the good work!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered Commentera.

Chicagoan and Marilyne - happy to look into both questions!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterMrs. T

To Marilyne: Only the gowns are on display at the Smithsonian. Often the day ensembles of the First Ladies end up in the Presidential libraries.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 5:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterMrs. C

Thanks for clearing up my confusion as I wasn't sure if this piece was a part of the dress, or a necklace.
In any case, although a lovely piece, I didn't think the Toledo ensemble needed additional embellishment, or shine.
I found it distracting and fussy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterRJT

I thought the pin was stunning. I am partial to pins and didn't realize it was one until checking this blog. The lemon grass outfit was beautiful and so refreshing on such a cold day.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 7:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterKathy

What a cool pin!! Vintage = Beautiful!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 9:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterKate

I love her style. And I can only hope that *some* of her pieces are knocked off for the rest of us. Like....maybe someone comes up with a copy of this one of a kind pin with slight modifications in cubic zirconia.....or something.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered Commentermlaiuppa

Yesterday's lime green better pic here


Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 9:45 PM | Unregistered Commentersuji

She was stunning. Im so happy she chose some diamonds- amazing.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 11:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRandy

Great work ! and great Michelle ! db

Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 2:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterdbmetaldesiGner France

Arggg, that colour! Who would have chosen such a flashy, distant from protocol and unclassy colour for such a day? I'm not a fan at all. The ensemble's colour is horrid, the fabric looks cheap. It gave me the creeps to see Mrs O holding the Lincoln Bible with those horrible green gloves. Come on! Where's the classiness? On the other hand, I loved how she combined the brooch with her outfit. The only great bit.

Friday, January 23, 2009 at 4:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterXr

I'll bet Mochelle thought the pin was a tiara, until Borock pulled it off her head and told her it's not a coronation.

Friday, January 23, 2009 at 4:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterHeidi

Xr and Heidi, what are you up to? Anyhow, she has the right to choose. Mrs. O dresses to please herself not you are me. If it makes her happy that's all that matters. Your creeps is what Abe Lincoln was fighting against, so he must be happy Michelle was holding his bible.

Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Unregistered Commentersuji

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>