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



A Flair for the Dramatic


Photo used with kind permission from photographer Luke Vargas

"No drama" may be a mantra for President-Elect Obama, but for Mrs. O it's a different story, at least when it comes to her fashion choices. We've covered most of her style signatures-the floral brooches, the jewel colours, the statement belts- in exhaustive  detail.

However, one Michelle Obama favourite seems to have escaped our attention until now--her penchant for a dramatic sleeve.  Yet another distinctive element of her highly personal style, Mrs. O often uses a flared or draped sleeve to add an unusual element to an otherwise classic piece of tailoring. This checked wool coat for example, is given an unexpected twist with the addition of a dramatic bell sleeve that gives it an almost medieval flavour.

Similarly, this classic Peter Soronen skirt suit is given additional interest with a fluted three-quarter length sleeve while a simple black coat is given volume here with extravagantly flared sleeves and an elegant trapeze cut. The stunning red suit Mrs. O wore on Super Tuesday all the back in February 2008 was another early indicator of this emerging style signature.

One more example of Mrs. O's style savvy, these over-sized details not only add individual touches to a sleek and professional wardrobe, they also have an impact on camera or in front of a large crowd that more conventional tailoring would lack. Mrs. O carries the same approach through to other aspects of her wardrobe, often opting for an over-sized collar or exaggerated buttons. While comparisons with the Kennedy White House have been abundant, Mrs. O's taste for a dramatic and voluminous sleeve recalls a much older Camelot, giving our First-Lady-in-waiting a fabulously regal and statuesque silhouette. 


"Someone's Got to Mention Clothes"

Obama and Oprah in Cedar Rapids

Image used with kind permission from Robin Stone

That is a line from a poem by acclaimed novelist Elinor Lipman  (Then She Found Me, The Inn at Lake Devine). She wrote it for a Writers for Obama fundraiser that was held in Northampton, Massachusetts on September 21, 2008. "There were multiple writers involved and the plan was for all of us to write something original to read at the event," says Ms. Lipman, whose ninth novel, The Family Man, will be published in May 2009.  

From the beginning of her involvement with the fundraiser, she knew she would write about Mrs. O. "I love that she wears dresses. She has such fun with her wardrobe." As did Ms. Lipman in her witty poetic romp through Mrs. O's sartorial high moments in the campaign and anticipation of the upcoming Inaugural Night. We appreciate that Ms. Lipman felt this would be the perfect place for her poem to be published. It seems fitting; after all, we do like to talk about clothes.    

Michelle, As Well by Elinor Lipman

I write this poem on matters slight By which I mean, Inaugural Night. My shallow values hence exposed, But someone's got to mention clothes. I'll take you back as I digress To Iowa and that black dress. A silver belt around her waist Opponent's pantsuits in disgrace. I viewed her garb and then I knew She won't wear suits in royal blue. Man-tailored jackets grow on trees, And no more rhinestone flag pins, please. She won't-nor will her dazzling girls- Be seen in Barbara's two-strand pearls. I love her plastic boutonnieres We won't see Reagan-red for years. The purple sleeveless dress: bravado That V-neck teal in Colorado? The fierce print at Invesco Field? A Denver high, her shoes low-heeled. The black and white seen on The View? Back-ordered till the year is new. Still, anchor people have to dwell More on McCain than on Michelle. But we who live by Project Runway Crave panache inside the Beltway. Support the arts (couture is one!) A modern Jackie will be fun. Michelle, our belle, icon long-sought A ticket back to Camelot. And better still, her strengths are mental, The Best Dressed list is accidental. Come January, let us pray We hail Inauguration Day. A snowy night, D.C. ablaze The end of fashion's long malaise. Her man, their waltz, a splendid gown A masterpiece lights up the town. Chiffon or silk in black or white, Barack in tails...oh what a sight!


Ladies in Red

Michelle Obama in Boulder, Colorado  

Image used with kind permission from Joe Beine

We are charmed by this photo of Mrs. O, taken on the campaign trail last October in Boulder, Colorado. The vibrant red provides a great punch of color and the asymmetrical neckline of her top gives a modern twist to a traditional sweater set. Her signature style brooch layers more red-the color of passion and heart-onto this ensemble.

Many previous First Ladies have enjoyed the color red in the past. The Heart Truth's First Lady Dress Collection showcases seven different bold-hued outfits once worn by a variety of First Ladies. The collection, which helps boost the public's awareness of the number one killer of women: heart disease, is currently on view for the third time at The National First Ladies Library in Canton, Ohio. (Previous viewings were in 2005 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and in 2007 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.)

Evening gowns on display include a pleated Mary McFadden dress from Claudia (Lady Bird) Johnson, a chiffon Valentino design worn from Nancy Reagan, a gold-trimmed gown by Arnold Scassi from Barbara Bush, and a sequined Oscar de la Renta design from Laura Bush.

Daytime looks include a cashmere dress by Cliff Chally from Hillary Clinton and a crepe suit by Neiman Marcus from Betty Ford. And, although not included in this collection, Jacqueline Kennedy-who tended towards wearing white or pastel colors-donned a cherry red dress at a White House Christmas party in 1961.

Mrs. O loves purple, as we know, and she looks fantastic in various shades of blue. But she has also shown a fondness for red (her red and black Narcisco Rodriguez dress in Grant Park on election night, her coral red sheath by Maria Pinto when she went to meet the Bushes at the White House). So we expect to see more of her in this popular First Lady hue.


Mrs. O: 2008 in Review

Mrs. O sits atop many a "Year in Review" list, including ours of course. To close out the year, we thought we'd highlight our top 5 Mrs. O style moments of 2008. And in the spirit of fashion democracy, please be sure to add in your picks too.  

#1: A Thakoon Finale When asked what made us decide to start this site, we always point to the DNC. Mrs. O's wardrobe through the course of the DNC week was a true inspiration. And no moment was greater than on the final night, when Mrs. O dazzled in Thakoon's floral Radzimir silk dress, worn with a trio of Erickson Beamon brooches pinned at the neckline. Thakoon and Erickson Beamon were just two of the new designer names Mrs. O introduced to the American public this fall. Obama/Biden Photo used with kind permission from photographer Bill Burke, Page One Photography

#2: The Belted Sheath Wearing her favorite hometown designer and the color of the year, Mrs. O made a signature style statement in her purple Maria Pinto sheath dress as Mr. O clinched the Democratic Primary in June. While the stylish sheath dress deserved praise in its own right, fashion heads really turned when it was revealed that Mrs. O's waist cinching black belt, a regular accessory in her campaign trail wardrobe, was an Alaia.  If ever it had been doubted, it was now clear that Mrs. O was a woman with an astute appreciation for fashion and style. 07 obama and michelle closeupPhoto used with kind permission from photographer kayakbiker2000

#3: Making History in Narciso Rodriguez Mrs. O's election night dress was quite the polarizing force. Fashion critics revered it, while much of the public expressed a strong distaste. No matter what your opinion, it's a dress and a moment we're bound to remember for the rest of our lives, one which will leave a permanent stamp on our social history. The designer of this red and black frock was Narciso Rodriguez. Mrs. O turned to Rodriguez for several high profile appearances throughout the campaign, and we expect him to a be a regular in her White House wardrobe as well. 20081104_Chicago_IL_ElectionNight1530 Photo credit: Flickr user Barack Obama via Jeffrey Katz for Obama for America / Creative Commons

#4: The Bow Debate The More magazine cover earns a spot on our list in part because of its backstory. While Mrs. O looks lovely in a punchy pink Maria Pinto dress, adorned with a purple satin bow, and complemented by her enviably toned arms, it's what happened behind the scenes that made the greatest style statement. Understandably, More was after a knockout cover shot for their October issue. In the midst of the mounting economic crisis, Mrs. had a slightly less glamorous, but more fiscally responsible H&M dress in mind. Ultimately, the two sides compromised, agreeing that Mrs. O would wear a dress she already owned, direct from her personal closet. On the day of the shoot, however, a new style issue arose: the bow. More wanted to drop it, Mrs. O wanted it to stay. A woman with a strong sense of her own style, Mrs. O prevailed. The bow was kept, adding a distinctly personal and feminine touch to Mrs. O's cover look. 

Photograph by Matthew Rolston

#5: The Face of Fashion Democracy We debated whether Mrs. O's J. Crew ensemble from her Tonight Show appearance or this H&M dress worn on the campaign trail in late September should garner our final pick. One way or another, Mrs. O's championing of high-low fashion certainly deserved a nod in our top 5. At just $34.90, this H&M striped dress, accessorized with a black patent leather belt, won out. If ever there was a moment that Mrs. O proved true style has very little to do with a price tag, it was here. DSC_0659

Photo credit: Flickr User Barack Obama / Creative Commons

And there you have our top 5 Mrs. O style moments for 2008. Though hard to choose, each one says something distinct about Mrs. O's style. We will wait with bated breath to see what sartorial delights Mrs. O will deliver in 2009, perhaps the most exciting to come in January. Here's to a fantastic year and our modern style icon in the making, our future first lady, Mrs.O.


Thakoon Day, Hooray

We've been anticipating the arrival of the Thakoon for Target collection since word broke of the collaboration in mid-October - each thought of the collection delightfully bringing Mrs. O's floral Thakoon frock from the DNC back to mind. We were cautious not to get our hopes up too high, fearful that the collection might not live up to its promise. But live up it does.

Without question, this is the best Go International collection we've seen in a long time, perhaps ever. From the cuts, to the prints, to the quality of the material, nearly every item over delivers. Through and through, the sportswear pieces are chic, wearable and best yet - incredibly affordable. Home for the holidays in Central Ohio, we ventured to our local Target Greatland yesterday to check out the collection first hand. With prime real estate near the front entrance, it had already been picked over by early afternoon Sunday, and for good reason.

As Booth Moore observed in the LA Times last week, Thakoon's line for Target is a near doppelganger for his own Spring 2008 RTW runway collection. The shibori print (inspired by the Japanese resist-dye tradition) and green and navy preppy stripe are instantly recognizable in the Target collection. Even the cyber floral print appears to differ only by its background color: white for the runway, black for Target. Had the resort collection debuted a few weeks earlier, Mrs. O might have picked up a piece or two for her getaway to Hawaii. While the line has a girlish feel - due to many a short hemline - there are several pieces that transcend age.

Thinking of Mrs. O, Thakoon's shibori print top, paired with a signature belt and slim pant, would be fabulous. With a Narciso-esque exposed zip up the back and subtle folds to shape the short sleeves, the top delivers unexpected details and the right punch of pattern. (Some early reviews have criticized the cotton fabric for being stiff. We found that it softened up immediately after washing.) Similarly, the long cotton cardigans and tie waist cotton skirts would have been right at home in Mrs. O's campaign trail wardrobe this fall. As a self-professed Target shopper and devout Thakoon fan, we can't think of a better match for Mrs. O than this collection.  Wearing pieces from the Thakoon for Target line would be the ultimate win for high-low fashion. Here's hoping Mrs. O has been clicking away at Target.com this weekend.