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« Purple Reign | Main | Mrs. O on Today »
Thursday
Feb042010

An Inventive Remix

Images by Jason Reed / Reuters

This morning the president and First Lady Mrs. O were joined by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero for the 58th US National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.

Mrs. O was dressed in a plum silk dress, paired with a long sleeve top underneath and a thin belt at the waist. This is the same Narciso Rodriguez dress Mrs. O wore to attend the president's address to a joint session of Congress in February 2009. The notable addition for this appearance? Sleeves, of course!

Was this Mrs. O's tongue-in-cheek, sartorial rebuttal to "sleeve-gate"? Or perhaps the first lady simply getting mileage out of her wardrobe? Would love to hear your thoughts on the 2010 remix.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Reader Comments (65)

I really like the belt here

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 5:22 PM | Unregistered Commenteranar

Great reinterpretation. The predictable thing to do would've been to throw a cardigan over the dress, but the shirt underneath is fresh and young. I used to wear long-sleeves under short sleeves. High school. Gotta try that agin!

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 5:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterErin

Not my favorite look for the lovely Michelle. I understand she was going to a Prayer breakfast so modesty was called for, but I would have chosen a different dress.

Love the dress without the shirt underneath.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 5:34 PM | Registered CommenterTammy Gerardi

I love the addition of the belt. It is hella cute. I am a little on the fence about the shirt under the dress. I understand why she added the sleeves because it was a Prayer breakfast. I am wondering if it is just a lighting issue and the sweater color is way more closer to the purple or if she knew it was a little off and meant to do that. It doesn't look terrible, I just want to know. Ha! and how ironic is it that people on Huff Post was like, she should have worn a cardigan instead. People are TOO FUNNY!

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 5:44 PM | Registered CommenterNyon

You know whats funny about his, amazingly this works! lol If you had described it to me, I would have frowned. But seeing is believing.... :D

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 5:57 PM | Unregistered Commentero'Coutoure

I love this, ya the color doesn't exactly match don't think that's necessarily a bad thing!
Think the belt is great, makes it look like a completely different dress. Her bracelet is fantastic too, subtle but classy!

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 6:01 PM | Registered Commentermincey

The belt with the dress is lovely, however I am really not feeling this particular long sleeve top and dress combo. Wearing a sweater underneath a dress worked wonderfully for her when she wore the Johnathan Saunders structured black dress with a black turtleneck underneath, but that combo was monochromatic and you couldn't tell she added sleeves, which is why it worked. Perhaps this would have also if the sleeves were the exact same color as the dress, but even then I don't think it would work with the lovely satin drapery. Seeing cotton sleeves with a satiny top portion is a little odd.
However she looks so radiant and that bob is looking better and better every time I see her.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 6:14 PM | Registered CommenterAri

Purple looks very well on her.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 6:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterTiffany

When she wore the dress the first time, I felt that the ensemble was missing something; maybe a string of pearls or a diamante type necklace. I like this new look, although I'm not loving it. I think it is a clever way to get mileage out of a dress but again I definitely feel like a neck chain of some sort would have set it off. By the way, the belt is gorgeous.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 6:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterjestina

The dress seems much tighter today, which I like. I always thought it was too big at the joint session. Love the belt, too. I also wonder the style and cut of the shirt underneath because there's no hint of it at the neckline -must plunge pretty deep and wide around the neck, which is good in this case.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 6:49 PM | Registered Commentermissann

Not really loving the shirt underneath the dress, however the addition of the belt is nice.

IMO not a good look for Mrs. Obama , the purple is a great color for her ..........But NAH this is a miss

in my book

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 6:59 PM | Registered CommenterTsetse Johnson

I would not have attended this prayer breakfast because it is sponsored by fundamentalist evangelicals who have worked to create laws in Uganda that persecute gay people.

The dress is irrelevant.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 7:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterpoiret

I love the belt and the way it sits on the skirt. The sweater works in one photo, but does not look so good in the frontal shot.

I do love this top, though, and think it is absolutely a beautiful color.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 7:11 PM | Registered CommenterBevi

I think this is a lovely dress--but I am not as enamored of it with the long sleeves underneath. I would have saved this dress for another occasion and worn it sleeveless again.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 7:25 PM | Registered Commentersusan2

Not my favourite combination. Mixing & Matching colours together can be tricky.
I would have preferred to see a silk jacket more the colour of the skirt and a scarf
with hints of purple.

Mrs. T, that's a tough one - I'll go with the latter :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 7:41 PM | Registered Commenterprettiribbons

I certainly wouldn't have thought to put a shirt underneath the dress we all 'heard so much about..', but then I'm not Michelle Obama am I? Meaning.. I don't have her body or her style.

Mrs. Obama has yet to wear something I don't like, because really every time I see her, though I often love what she wears, I see HER. And SHE makes her clothes, every time.

My love affair with Madame Obama continues :)

My hubby is getting a kick out of this, because I'm not normally the 'groupie' type...! GO Michelle!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 7:44 PM | Registered CommenterCLB

Close, but no cigar. Beautiful color, and good intention. Why NOTt show she's not above redefining
and re-wearing an "old" dress? Only problem - the sweater underneath really doesn't work.
But who cares?! Doesn't mean a thing. She's beautiful. And since he's in the photo, too - can I just
say thank you Mr. President for the recent Question Time with Dems and Repubs? You shone.
I think you're getting a raw deal in the polls. You are trying!! Just one pretty please - maybe two.
Quit the two wars, and keep it all about putting us back to work. The rest will follow.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 7:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterLucy

CLB, That's sweet. And 'we are' a very nice group to be with - right? LOL

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 7:58 PM | Registered Commenterprettiribbons

This actually wrks...Wen i first looked @ it...I didn't even kno...That was the same dress...From b4 until i scrolled dwn...She put this 2gether well...N i luv the belt 2 cute !

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 8:02 PM | Registered CommenterJaylanie2363

First off, can I just say I love the slim little belt. Nice edition. Takes it from evening to business instantly.

That said, I like the look and think it's really clever. This is the kind of thing you see in fashion magazines, where they reinvent a look to give it a totally different purpose. Layering the unexpected can do that. Putting a long sleeved top in the same color scheme under the dress is a really nice move and it's not something the the average woman would think of doing. Most women would look at that dress and see it as something that can only be worn one way.

Mrs. O thinks out the box and I think that it works.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 8:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterTracy

DOUBLE TAKE

Sorry I've been away for so long, but life is like a tailspin sometimes! Sigh...

Anywho, I'm really liking that belt, but not loving the undergarment covering her arms. Phooey!
I love Mrs.O's arms, they are they envy of all of us!!! And though I understand the need to be appropriate and respectful for such an occasion, I think a long light cardigan of the same texture and color of the "sleeves" would have been perfect - elegant and not too casual. But, I admire her ability to always "think outside of the box" and her positive attitude often negates the attire.

Cheers!

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 8:22 PM | Registered CommenterRocky

I love the fitted arms of the blouse and the slim belt is fantastic! Mrs. O is a breath of fresh air in Washington's staid & stuffy world of fashion.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 9:00 PM | Registered CommenterStrong Foru

She ruined the dress. This was not a good idea. She had nothing else to wear?

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterLesley

Great way to wear that dress!

I don't think she covered her arms because it was a prayer bfast. Why would anyone have to do that?
Looks good. I'm always trying to find inventive ways to make my old look new ;-)

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 9:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterTru

I love it! A great look for the prayer breakfast-stylish and conservative. It was a clever way to make an old dress new again. Plus, the contrast between the purples just adds dimension and interest. And yes, this belt ties the look together. Tres` fab! Rock on Mrs O!

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 9:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterredlipstick

Here's a video of the president's speech. It starts at 71 minutes. At the end, Mrs. O goes in for a kiss, then has to wipe her lip gloss from his face. So cute. http://www.c-spanarchives.org/program/ID/219143

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 9:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterIVA

Mrs T, to answer you question her history has shown she likes to remix her wardrobe to get more mileage, so I definitely think this was done for that reason and this had nothing to do with sleevegate. Another reason. It is cold in DC in Feb! Compare this with Mrs Reagan who wore designer clothes but wore the whole outfit and did not mix and match. I can relate a lot more to Mrs O.
Shelly

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered Commentershelly

Not loving it. I think a cute shrug would have worked better. Reminds me of something my grandmother would have made me wear to church under a short sleeve dress.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 11:03 PM | Registered CommenterGloria Lewis

In answer to the question presented with this picture, I don't think Michelle gave a hoot about what people said about her sleeveless attire before. I think she was probably trying to get mileage from the outfit and also thinking about the appropriate attire for a prayer breakfast. I love what she does to change her outfits around. I like the look even though this is not my favorite color on her.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 11:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterGwen Day-Fuller

I agree with Jaylanie2363. I like the outfit and I did not realize it was an outfit she had worn before without the belt and sweater.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 11:37 PM | Registered CommenterAnn_T

I have pretty much concluded that whatever Michelle Obama wears is going to be gorgeous! This dress....I am really thinking these dresses because they look like two different dresses (one has pleats in the skirt part and the one with the belt has no pleats)....is no exception to her fabulousness! Love her style...amazing.

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 11:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterTonya

This remix is more visually interesting. At first I thought, what the? but then when I compared it to the last time she wore it I like the remix better.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 12:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterTree

I love the dress, and the belt is perfect. But I think whatever she's wearing under the dress is not a good look. It looks amateurish to me - not a word I ever thought I'd use when speaking about MO's style.

I understand her desire for a little more coverage at this event, but that beautiful black shrug she owns would have been a better look. Even a tissue weight black turtleneck under the dress might have solved the problem. I'd call this a rare misstep.

I'm amazed that in 23 posts on this thread no one has said "Finally! A skinny belt!" After months of "belt wars" on here, am I the only one who expected that response? She looks great in it.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 12:04 AM | Registered Commenteroperafanatic

This "dress" was designed to look like a blouse and skirt. Wasn't there some kind of jacket or coat that was left somewhere while she took her seat - wasn't it part of an ensemble? This rehash with the thing underneath is strange-looking.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 12:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterBeeGee

This is just so Mrs O., and it is why I love her style, unique, fashion forward and refreshing.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 1:21 AM | Registered Commenterboazwife

I love the belt and the dress, but the sleeves are not a good addition.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 6:37 AM | Unregistered Commenterthumper

Let me vote in favor of the new ensemble. I am thinking about all the sleeveless dresses that I never wore in the winter. This gives us ideas to get extra mileage out of our wardrobe...and yes, I did notice the slim belt right away. The First Lady is setting a good example for all fashionistas.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 6:53 AM | Unregistered Commentercapitolhiller

there is a new picture of the first lady on the white house flickr page. she is wearing an Alaia jacket in the same color and fabric as the dress she wears on oprah.the shirt underneath is the peter pilloto one she wears while adressing the veterans.and the same pants.she is rewearing a lot of her outfit lately which is refreshing.i can't shake the feeling that she has lost a lot of weight like her husband.but who can blame them given the stress they are under.
the rachel roy dress she was wearing during her interview with matt lauer was pretty loose compare to the last time she wore it.

i love the dress without the cardigan.but the idea with the cardigan and the belt is interesting.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 8:46 AM | Registered Commenterchrystelle

I like the skirt and belt, but the top underneath the dress is really not hitting the ball for me. It looks as if it wasn't really thought out very well. Also - I wonder what the note said that an aide slipped to President Obama while the gentleman was singing. He read it, then showed it to the First Lady, then made a comment to her, and the both gave brief smiles to each other. Anybody have any ideas?

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 9:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Cincinnati Kid

I LOVE MRS O PURPLE DRESS WITH OUT THE SWEATER SHE CAN AT LEASE HOLD HER SWEATER AND PUT IT ON HER CHAIR WHEN SHE IS COLD SHE DIDNT HAVE TO PUT IT UNDERNEATH HER DRESS SHE LOOKED BE3TTER WITH OUT IT . JUST DONT LIKE IT WITH A SELVE DRESS IF IT WAS A SRIKT OR SUIT I WILL LKE IT BETTER. NOW EVRYBODY WILL WEAR THERE SWEATER UNDER THERE SELVE DRESS I AM NOT .

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered Commentermichelle

I think it looks fine. I don't think she was responding to that "sleevegate" nonsense at all and if so it was certainly done with tongue firmly planted in cheek. I think she is being her usual creative self and getting more mileage out of her wardrobe.

@ Poiret: sometimes Presidents have to sit done with some less than savory folks. Perhaps he put a bug in their ear about their untenable position and he may end up influencing a change in policy. If he didn't break bread with them he'd never have an opportunity to influence them face-to-face. In this day and age we have to talk to people we don't agree with, or even like, in order to reach some consensus in the world.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterAttyGirl

AttyGirl

I appreciate your view. But The Family, the secret organization of Evangelical Christians that sponsored the breakfast, is not only un-savory, they are indigestible. They promote hate against gays and Uganda, a country that they influence, has now adopted horrible laws against gays. There is a time to break bread in the hopes of influencing another's point of view, and a time to stand firm and boycott their events. This was a time to boycott. Nothing anyone says will change their views, in my opinion.

Anyway, I am glad someone responded to my post. Thanks.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered Commenterpoiret

I can't believe I'm saying this; but for perhaps the first time, I believe the belt is a great addition here. It's narrow and positioned so that it's quite flattering.

Overall, though, this is a miss for me. When a top is worn under a dress, it's usually a very casual dress--not one like this. I agree with those who've suggested a cardigan, shrug, or jacket as a better alternative.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 1:01 PM | Registered CommenterMsG

But a cardigan might have slipped off her shoulders, or it may have been a bit too warm, meaning she would be exposed with bare arms. Wearing her top underneath that dress kept her arms covered regardless. In any event, I like the purple.

She probably picked that dress as a cross between the color she loves and the more sedate atmosphere of the Prayer Breakfast. Purple is a good compromise at an event where a lot of people may have been wearing black or gray or brown.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterCarol

It's a brilliant idea and works perfectly. If we hadn't seen this dress before, who's to say we would ever have guessed it didn't have jersey sleeves?!

She's done this before too, a grey/black tweed sleeveless dress with a black fine knit underneath to (was it?) the Kennedy Centre.

It's something I've done a lot with lightweight dresses so that I can mileage out of them in the winter and I assume most of us have done it at one time or another with a sleevess top or dress. The cardigan thing can get boring, plus it covers up ones shape, and frankly if you have the choice not to wear a jacket first thing in the morning, I'd go with that too!

She looks, warm, stylish, comfortable and chic. 10 out of 10!

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 1:32 PM | Registered CommenterPosh Tater

No. Not the sweater, not the sleeves, not the belt.

I do like the narrow belt on the dress, but not this particular one.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 1:46 PM | Registered Commentermrso2

@Tonya, if you look at the huge photo on Huff Post you will see this dress does indeed have pleats as well as a seam down the front. Some might argue that the color of the dress in the 2009 and 2010 pics being different - listen, on one television channel yesterday I did a double take because the dress sleeves looked navy and the dress appeared to be royal blue!

Love the skinny belt! I'm sure it is flying off the shelves. I'm thinking it might come in other colors? Love it.
I think wearing 3/4 sleeves is a real plus for her, as well. She favors wearing bracelets and this sleeve length allows us to enjoy seeing them as well.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 4:21 PM | Unregistered Commentercanyongal

Women under 30 can get away with this look - women over 30 probably should go with a jacket over a dress. This looks nice and I'm glad that she covered her arms for the conservative crowd (to this day I won't wear anything sleeveless or pants to a house of worship...) but I think a different dress (maybe matching sheet and jacket - very Jackie!) or coming up with a cardigan or jacket over would have been better.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 6:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnnie MD

i can't say I love this...actually, I don't like it at all the way she wore a shirt underneath (but if this is her way of saying screw you to all the sleeve-gate agitators, then I say RIGHT ON MRS. O!!)

but i don't like it.....i actually do not like the last 3 purple outfits she has worn....**sigh**

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 8:34 PM | Registered CommenterLayo G

I've been on the fence about this since I first saw it. This outfit seems to take on a different color depending on the angle and media outlet that the photos come from. In some, the top appears navy blue and in some, it looks purple. Our Michelle seems to be in a purple mood lately and it's a great color for her. The photos showing the playfullness between her and POTUS are simply adorable.

Friday, February 5, 2010 at 10:29 PM | Registered CommenterCharlene in Detroit

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