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Tuesday
Jun282011

Mrs. O in Alexander Wang

Photo by Charles Dharapak / AP Images

The First Lady wore quite a line up of designers while traveling through South Africa last week: Duro Olowu, Jean Paul Gaultier, Reed Krakoff, Tory Burch, Rachel Roy and ASOS Africa, just to name a few. Now we can add one more name to that list: Alexander Wang

Thanks to reader Tien who observed that Mrs. O's mural painting attire included a pair of Alexander Wang Doodle Print jeans, on sale here. Doodle print for painting? Pretty perfect.

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Reader Comments (33)

Wow, $695 doodle pants for painting. I hope she didn't get any paint on these during the event.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 12:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterChar

I love her fashion, but this is over the top. Why couldn't she just wear a pair of jeans? A little heartless looking given she's travelling a continent where most people live on less than $1 a day. I am not saying she should be in rags, but strike a balance. This is not very PC.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 4:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterPurnima

Mrs Obama is still my favourite first lady but for some reason, her South African wardrobe did not wow me as much as her previous overseas trips.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 6:35 AM | Registered CommenterJestina ( London, England)

@ Jestina,

I think she dressed appropriately modest because she wanted the youth and young adults she would be interacting with and speaking to focusing on her message and not her clothing.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 8:21 AM | Registered CommenterSoccerNana

I'm a bit surprised by the initial reactions to the cost. I do think Mrs. Obama aimed to strike a balance by weaving several affordable pieces from ASOS Africa and J.Crew into her wardrobe last week.I would also say that this is really nothing new. Mrs. O has planted trees in Lanvin, and worked out in Jean Paul Gaultier. The reality is that even her casual wardrobe is chock full of designer pieces, and after, she is the First Lady of the United States. To that end, I also think back to Shortsgate, when Mrs. O was criticized for wearing shorts when deplaning from Air Force One. I suppose there will always be critics, one way or the other. Personally, I was excited (and surprised?) to see Mrs. Obama in Alexander Wang. I feel it's quite a downtown choice for the First Lady.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 9:10 AM | Registered CommenterMrs. T

What is the problem? Strike a balance for whom? If she had worn some old jeans and a beat up shirt, there would be some critics questioning why she did not inspire "hope" in her manner of dressing. This was an historical and meaningful trip for her family. And whether she painted in shorts, gown or sweats, she was their and it meant a lot to the young people in Africa.

And what about all the good she does and the heartfelt way she was received? I know this is a fashion blog, but where are all the supporters when she is DOING something positive? Does this woman motivates us to do something positive in our communities. Instead of sitting around waiting to comment on what she is wearing and how she represents America fashion-wise. What about otherwise? What are we doing? Are we even praying for the children of Africa? Do or say something! Was her hair appropriate while painting?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterLDS

@Char, she'll probably wear them again, and again. And for that price, they must last a long time.
Funny thing is, I would never have thought those were designer jeans. :). I thought they were old jeans that she got paint on.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 10:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterObserver

What is the problem? Strike a balance for whom? If she had worn some old jeans and a beat up shirt, there would be some critics questioning why she did not inspire "hope" in her manner of dressing. This was an historical and meaningful trip for her family. And whether she painted in shorts, gown or sweats, she was their and it meant a lot to the young people in Africa.

And what about all the good she does and the heartfelt way she was received? I know this is a fashion blog, but where are all the supporters when she is DOING something positive? Does this woman motivates us to do something positive in our communities. Instead of sitting around waiting to comment on what she is wearing and how she represents America fashion-wise. What about otherwise? What are we doing? Are we even praying for the children of Africa? Do or say something! Was her hair appropriate while painting?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 10:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterLDS

Are we looking at the same jeans? The link says they are $334.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterLoveMObama

I agree, Mrs. T. Also, we know from watching this First Lady over the years that she repeats outfits in her wardrobe and undoubtedly these pants will be worn on other occasions. I love them!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 10:32 AM | Unregistered Commenterouapiti

Dear Mrs. T. thanks for your post of the shock of the cost of the jeans she is wearing in this photo.
You were pretty on point in your reminders ....as to her price rang on clothing for this trip. Wow, some of us may have short memories or may be new to this blog....

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdear

Mrs T, I couldn't agree more. I think its awesome she wore Alexander Wang - supporting yet another young American designer.

She works so hard and does such a good job. She deserves to enjoy her clothes and wear what she wants!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 1:14 PM | Registered Commentermincey

I think the jeans are ugly. A little paint on them would not matter. What a waste of $3-600. J. Crew and Tory Burch, etc. might be more affordable, but they are NOT inexpensive from a middle class perspective. I hope that something for the People of the U.S. was accomplished on this visit, since the People's treasure helped to pay for it. Interesting how her husband spent a big part of his speech this morning criticizing "corporate CEO's" for their use of "private jets". I wonder how many corporate CEOs there are, how many actually waste the use of the corporate jets and how much they cost the taxpayer in relative value ( versus taxed corporate earnings). I think it is time for the President and First Lady to develop a more sensitive awareness of all of the people out there suffering during this protracted economic downturn and years of endless war. They need to do this through not just words but through deeds.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterSLD

What Mrs. T and LDS said!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 2:14 PM | Registered CommenterNyon

I find it disconcerting that these pants were "just Ok" and nothing special until we found out who designed them and what was the retail cost, now it's something else. What difference does it make how much someone spends on their clothing, especially when it's their own money? So what they are designer duds. If The First Lady of The United States cannot wear them, who should? Would we really rather our Michelle to outfit herself, while on the national and international stage, in rags or mediocre kick-abouts just to make a political statement? Let's not forget, she dressed well before becoming FLOTUS.
It's fun to watch her style evolve and even immulate or be inspired by her choices. She encourages us to find what works for you, wear what makes you happy, wear what you love, be of good service to your family and community and just be the best you. She entertains us, she motivates us. Just because we can find out how much she MIGHT spend on any given item we should not assume it is our right to do so. It is not our right to dictate how much she or anyone else is allowed for their clothing budget. We would do well to remember that cost is relative, to some people spending $60 on an ASOS blouse is extravagant.
This website is a fun respite for those of us who appreciate Michelle Obama and follow her fashion style. Let's not be petty and reduce it to tabloid mentality and style just because it's easy to find out how much something costs.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 2:47 PM | Registered CommenterCharlene in Detroit

@Charlene in Detroit...I agree with your post

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdear

Everything is relative - as an 'average' person, when I saw the full retail and sale prices of the pants I admit that my jaw dropped but only because I know I cannot afford to pay that amout of money for a single article of clothing. But Michelle Obama had a high dollar salary before she became FLOTUS. Our POTUS is a millionare (I believe from his book sales) so she shops according to her means and the Obamas' means are considerable.

I'm not a hater so I'm not mad at her :) Thank you Mrs. T for this wonderful site. I can't get enough of it. I check it first thing every day. I'm always eager for your updates. Keep up the great work!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 3:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterVivian

Unique pants, and Michelle has never struck me as a person that was concerend with others opinions. Thus, she just wears clothes because she likes them not to be politically correct. If the pants were $50+ by J.Crew the responses would be different, and it still would not change the poverty status in Botswana.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 3:28 PM | Registered CommenterM.M.

I loved the Capri pants right away without knowing the designer or even being able to clearly see that there was a doodle on them. After seeing the doodle it becomes ironically hilarious--a little joke. Most of us who do our own handiwork around the house or have a studio wear old pants already "mucked up" for that kind of work. Then to find out they are "pre-mucked-up" designer duds makes it even funnier.

We all know these events are photo-ops on an international trip designed to build relationships. Any marketing of American brands and designers while doing so should be expected and, indeed, encouraged. That's what government officials, presidents and families do to give the profile of country they represent a boost.

It's part of Mrs. O's job. Yes. She's working when she wears this or that or the other thing. That's how international trade is fostered and how economies grow. I say, let MO do her job without quibbling about the price of the pants. And those who will be buying their white Capri pants from a thrift store this season can be inspired to "knock off" a designer look by applying permanent markers first. (Just remember to put something inside the leg to prevent bleed-through. Or create bleed-through by design, not accident.) People might think they are Alexander Wang pants--another little joke.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered Commenterphilly

@Charlene in Detroit - On point and I agree. We don't know anything about what was actually paid and we shouldn't try to speculate. I appreciate the Mission of the trip and increasing my knowledge of South Africa and from this site involving all things fashion. Thank you Mrs. T!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterAuntie Mom

I think she looks silly when she wears expensive designer clothes to paint and exercise. You can wear inexpensive clothing for these events and still look good.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 5:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterKate

Once upon a time, a friend of mine ran into one of his wealthiest board members shopping in the old Filene's Basement here in Boston. He expressed shock at finding her there, and she replied, "Any fool can pay full price!" Mrs. T, Charlene, and Auntie Mom are all on target! We should not be obsessing over the price of Mrs. T.'s clothes. Retailers mark things down all the time and when we add up our credit card points, gift cards, and special "such a good customer" coupons, we walk out of stores with incredible bargains that never show up on the websites--even when things are already on sale. At the volume that Mrs. O is required to buy, we can only begin to imagine the sale prices that she or her professional shoppers are able to wangle. (I am a middle class professional who has been able to negotiate drastic price reductions on the spot for clothing and jewelry that I could never afford at full price.) Has anybody here ever shopped with multiple coupons and opened a charge account for the additional 15% discount? Well....

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 7:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterDr. Cheryl

I have no problem with Mrs. O wearing so much designer gear even for activities when one would think old jeans would be better. Yes, we DO expect our FLOTUS to dress well, even if not stylishly. Laura Bush seldom wore a suit that cost less than 6K to 8K, and I'm sure Hilary Clinton's clothing was equally expensive (as FLOTUS; now that she's a cabinet member, IMO she's off limits to fashion critiques because it has nothing to do with her job unless she dresses in a manner insulting to those she's working with, which she never does); it's just that neither was even remotely interested in fashion, per se. They just always looked respectable. The last truly stylish FLOTUS, Jackie Kennedy, dressed almost exclusively in European designers, so did nothing for American fashion, really.

Mrs. O, however, makes a lot of purchases, and she also wears a lot of separates that can be mixed and matched endlessly. And she can certainly afford her wardrobe. Personally, I love seeing her wear designer clothing since I know that she's supporting the American fashion industry by doing it; she has given a real jump-start to a number of young designers by wearing their clothing at important events. And when she travels, she also wears clothing of local designers and in local fashion. I love her nod to African color and pattern in her wardrobe on this trip, even if I don't like every individual piece she wears.

Most of all, though, I cannot even IMAGINE how inspiring she must be to young African girls especially (and apparently Nelson Mandela, too, since he specifically asked to meet her and the girls) -- she's a bright, educated woman, and while this is the first First Family of color. who she is on the inside totally overpowers what she looks like on the outside. And I find her incredibly inspiring and admirable -- not because of what she wears, but because of who she is!

Sorry, didn't mean for this to get so long. But since I live just outside DC, I hear about her every single day and the more she does, the more I respect her. All our children could do well to look to her as an example of what a modern woman should strive for, IMO -- not the White House, but a great education and a strong, loving family!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 7:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterLaura

I'm not hating but honestly...............the jeans look incredibly average to me. Certainly not what I would spend $334 on. But hey, that's just me.

Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 2:06 AM | Unregistered Commentercanyongal

I do think that one has to be mindful of perception vs reality in that Mrs O can certainly afford a wide number of designer clothes (especially since the cost details are worked out privately) but if the media starts focusing on the price of the pants instead of the service project then no matter how big her personal clothing budget is it still would not have been worth it, especially in an election year.

Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 3:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterMica

Those are jeans; jeans are versatile, as you can wear them to do almost anything. What may seem like a lot of money to an average or lower income person is not a lot of money to someone whose been making six figures since starting her professional career over 20 years ago, and is now a millionaire.

Just as my family members and friends buy clothes as gifts for me, I'm certain that the same goes for the First Lady. We don't know if some of her clothing, scarves, shoes, sneakers, etc are gifts from the President, family, and/or friends.

To Mrs. Obama, the clothes she wears are just that: clothes.

The WORK that she does while wearing the clothes (no matter the cost) is what matters.

Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterSoccerNana

@philly and @Laura--right on.

"We all know these events are photo-ops on an international trip designed to build relationships. Any marketing of American brands and designers while doing so should be expected and, indeed, encouraged. That's what government officials, presidents and families do to give the profile of country they represent a boost."

"Personally, I love seeing her wear designer clothing since I know that she's supporting the American fashion industry by doing it; she has given a real jump-start to a number of young designers by wearing their clothing at important events."

Let's all remember that Mrs. Obama does so much for America in her choices of travel, speech, and, yes, her clothing choices.

Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterPinda

The cost of these jeans did not really stand out to me as anything out of the ordinary. After all...it's her money and she should spend it as she wants.

On the fashion of this trip...I did notice a difference. She did not have multiple wardrobe and hair changes as per usual on other foreign trips. It's like she didn't want the trip to be about her fashion or style.

I think she looked lovely....my favorite was the black leather jacket...also, loved the blue suit.
Selfishly...I love several changes a day....but, I totally understand her choice.

Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 1:24 PM | Registered Commenterann#1

"Baggy fit printed jeans with slightly dropped crotch and cropped length. 100% Cotton canvas with rubberized overprint."
Uh, that is not how they appear on Mrs. O. Maybe she got the size wrong?

Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 1:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterJean

@Pinda, thank you for the kind reminders as to one of the roles the first lady plays while abroad...well said. Fashion choices....well they are part of her job, regardless of cost of the clothes she wears...

Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 5:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdear

Maybe enough about the pants and some information about the outfit Mrs O is wearing on this video (leaving Africa) http://www.zie.nl/video/algemeen/Einde-Afrikareis-Michelle-Obama/m1ezpjqfjbfx

I apologize the video is in dutch.

Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 5:41 PM | Registered CommenterElizabeth

the idea of wearing pants with fake paint on them, to go paint... doesn't sit well with me. Still love our First Lady though!

Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 8:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterMr. L

Thanks Elizabeth! That Jacket she had on was pretty interesting. I can dig it! I saw a pic of her from the front, but had no idea all that was going on in the back.

Friday, July 1, 2011 at 2:37 AM | Registered CommenterNyon

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