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Monday
Jan212013

Mrs. O Wows in Ruby Jason Wu

For a second time, Jason Wu has designed Mrs. O's inaugural ball gown. In some sense, it's bit of a surprise. If there's one way to describe the first lady's style, it's diverse. Over the past four years, Mrs. O has worn more than 50 designers, and that's a conservative count. While Jason Wu has remained consistently in the mix - most recently, Mrs. O has worn pieces from the designer's Miss Wu line - new names have emerged too. When polled last week, 10% of you thought Mrs. O would wear Jason Wu for this occasion. This choice indicates a lasting affinity for the designer, and a connection between Wu and Mrs. O that takes on new, even greater status.

As for the dress: the cut of the gown highlights Mrs. O's enviable arms, shoulders and back. The color reads power, and provides an energetic shift away from the subdued hues of the weekend. The lightness and movement of the fabric connotes an easy femininity. All in all, a winning combination.

Per a White House official via the pool report: "The first lady is wearing a custom Jason Wu ruby colored chiffon and velvet gown, shoes by Jimmy Choo, and a handmade diamond embellished ring by jewelry designer Kimberly McDonald. At the end of the inaugural festivities, the outfit and accompanying accessories will go to the National Archives."

Of note, I believe the Kimberly McDonald "embellished ring" is incorporated into the neckline of the dress, per the sketch below. To see more of the first lady's inaugural jewels from Kimberly McDonald, click here.

For further reading:

"Mrs. Obama's Inaugural Wardrobe by Many Designers" [New York Times]

"Picking a Winner Among a Field of Bold Theories" [New York Times]

"First lady Michelle Obama serves as fashion icon" [Washington Post]

A sketch of the gown via CNN's @AlinaChoCNN:

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Reader Comments (116)

Jestina, how did you feel being out there on the mall today listening to this great man make history?

Monday, January 21, 2013 at 11:04 PM | Registered CommenterNyon

Gorgeous...flaunts her amazing physique!!!

Monday, January 21, 2013 at 11:06 PM | Registered Commenterboazwife

The gown is a winner; simply beautiful, not unlike the attire of modern-day Greek goddess, enhancing the beauty of its wearer. Michelle makes the dress glowing red rubies, and the line of the gown flowing, the drape of the neckline drapier, and the backless style less 'wife of the presidential' and more of 'woman to watch'! Too bad it goes to the Smithsonian. It's the sort of dress that one would imagine she'd want to loan Sasha or Malia some day!

Monday, January 21, 2013 at 11:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Nakajima

Hi Nyon, the day was amazing. I cried. The atmosphere was great. I met so many people from many walks of life who are really rooting for the Obama's. I thought I was a huge fan but wow the President and his family get mad love. As for the crowd. I can't imagine what it looked 4 years ago because there were a lot of people there. Just a truly truly sensational day.

Monday, January 21, 2013 at 11:13 PM | Registered CommenterJestina ( London, England)

Yes, for those who question the fuller style of the gown: Remember, it's a gown Mrs. O needed to dance in, so a more tightly fitted or sleek style is not what she was after. If she'd worn something tightly fitted, there would have been criticisms about that. If she'd worn something more lavish, there would have been criticisms about that too. As someone said earlier, it's all subjective in any case. And above all, Mrs. O really knows how to dress herself! She's got a lot of personal style! I enjoy watching FLOTUS rock whatever she wears, and I enjoy learning from her example.

The number of amazing dresses and gowns Mrs. O has worn over the past four years is mind-boggling. What she's worn even over the past several months, especially during the holiday season has been simply outstanding, as usual. This Jason Wu ruby chiffon outfit may not be a wow, wow in the minds of many but again Mrs. O probably intended it to serve her purpose, not ours. Probably some of our expectations have been over-inflated or over-anticipated because we've been so spoiled. She looks beautiful and just right for the mood she wanted to set in this gown. It is now a part of history, and I'm looking forward to the next four years. FLOTUS will probably be shopping her closet quite often, and also offering up more surprises and subtle twists that will range from simple, elegant, understated, fabulous and wow!

Monday, January 21, 2013 at 11:16 PM | Registered Commenterflotusrocks

I think the first lady's choice of gown really was fitting for the Commander-in-Chief's Ball, which was one of just two balls tonight. A super-glam dress might have been too much for this purposefully scaled-down inaugural. She looked lovely when she was dancing with the young serviceman. Some of her state dinner gowns, as gorgeous as they've been, are so elegant, they're almost intimidating.

Monday, January 21, 2013 at 11:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterSuze

A beautiful shimmery modern gown that was very flattering. Great, great color, too. Can't believe she doesn't get to wear it again?! Very excited for Jason Wu, still only 30 years old? Thanks so much, Mrs. T for all your hard work. Can we all take tomorrow off to recover from today? LOL

Monday, January 21, 2013 at 11:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterPM Savannah

A somewhat serious for the swearing in, praying, speeching part. Bright and fun for the partying part of the day. Perfectly played, as always!

Monday, January 21, 2013 at 11:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterJaneen

Love the dress! I think both inaugural gowns are stunning for different reasons. She's such a strong, confident woman (inside and out!) and in my opinion, this dress really emphasized that. First Lady of Style, that Mrs. O

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 12:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

FLOTUS=BEAUTIFUL!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 12:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterTHC1

FLOTUS=BEAUTIFUL!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 12:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterTHC1

This was a miss. The fabric, cut and fit was not befitting for the occasion. This piece was a poorly executed cruise piece. It also looks like a bad cavalli. I wish she had chosen Tom Ford or Wes Gordon. Both could have executed something lovely and more special for the inauguration. I love Mrs. O, but her team failed her on this choice.
I can only guess that someone wanted to see her in red and let Wu go for it, despite that bridal mess he did for the first inauguration. The McQueen piece that she wore last year was much better executed than this Wu dress.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 12:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnn

@lotusrocks .... hear!hear!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 12:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterRosean

I agree with Lainie. And, as to Obama Style, a perfect end to a perfect day!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 1:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterBridget Morgan

@ flotusrocks - I could not agree more. We have been thoroughly spoilt. Some of her gowns, especially those by Naeem Khan have taken my breath away but I would definitely question some of her gowns on the dancefloor and navigating crowds if she wore them last night. She probably didn't want a "wow" gown to overshadow the rest of the evening on such a important day. Let's face it, she has always done things HER way and that is what we love about her. Her belts have always been an emotive subject and what about the flack she got for wearing a little cardi in Grant Park four years ago. But guess what, she wears BOTH a belt and a little shrug to the second and last inauguration. I can't wait to see what great fashion she will be wearing over the next 4 years.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 1:44 AM | Registered CommenterJestina ( London, England)

Today, I attended the second inauguration of President Obama. Six hours in the cold, I was hungry, my feet were frozen and hurt but it didn't seem to matter in that moment. I felt grateful to be there. It was an amazing opportunity to see, in person, this family that I have come to love so much. The President delivered the address of his life, in my opinion. I so share his world view even if I don't agree with him on everything. I was driving home when the inaugural balls began and although dripping with fatigue, I had to log in to see the lovely dress, stunning in its simplicity. Jason Wu understands Mrs. O. As I have watched her style evolution over the past 4 years, this dress encapsulates the place of comfort and contentment to which she has arrived. A more glamorous dress would not have been able to accompany her to that place. Michelle Obama will not be forced into a fashion character and that was epitomized by the incredibly stunning outfits she wore for Sunday and Monday's swearing in. What a tenacious, courageous and powerful woman. I had the opportunity to see her lovely smiling face as she slowly drove by. She is more beautiful in person than I ever imagined.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 1:48 AM | Registered Commenterladywatcher

It strikes me that no First Lady before her (with the possible exception of Jacqueline Kennedy) could have so successfully donned such a gorgeous - yet body revealing - Inaugural gown as Mrs. O wore last night. True, the gown is not form fitting, but a woman still has to be Extremely fit to wear a gown like this, as well as Youthful. Our First Lady, pushing 50, I hear, has Both Qualities in generous amounts. She has the toned armed & shoulders of a particularly Graceful Olympian swimmer, which her dress displayed to Lovely effect. She was a Regal Goddess in that Vibrant Ruby Jason Wu gown! (The dress has an orange/red hue in many photos I've seen, making it closer to Vermillion than Ruby, but no matter: either red is Gorgeous on our First Lady, and the Material of the dress Fascinates me w/its velvet designs). I'm sensitive to the fact that we are not supposed to expect our First Ladies to look like Super Models. They are usually older women who have been in the political arena in some way for a long time. They need to have a gravitas about them, as well as convey warmth. Michelle Obama Definitely has inner Strength, Dignity, Intelligence, Warmth, Humor, Naturalness & All the qualities anyone could ever desire in a First Lady - yet she also looks like a Super Model. It's True & I think it's Appropriate to acknowledge this undeniable fact when evaluating her choice last night. I think Mrs. O chose her gown knowing that it would be one of the more Uniquely Revealing gowns that a First Lady could pull off. She really showed them Last Night just how Gorgeous and Glowing She is, yet her gown was not improper in the Slightest. It is an unfussy, yet formal enough gown, and only SHE could have worn it as she did. I happen to Love the sparkly red gown Laura Bush wore, as well as Hillary Clinton's Starry Midnight Lace beauty. Hillary Clinton also gets high marks from me for her Golden gown & cape. Those are Beautiful Inaugural ensembles and they flattered both women wonderfully well, but let's face it: No First Lady has Ever possessed the figure of Michelle Obama, who is tall enough to give any model a run for her money, yet also strong & toned. Given how Gorgeous she is, she might as well (tastefully) rock what she's got, and Michelle Obama, our First Lady, sure knows how to do that w/o going too far. She Always dresses Appropriately and Fashionably, yet she Owns her Own Style. Our First Lady is a Marvel, a Fashion Inspiration, a woman Always true to Herself and a woman who is Never afraid of Gorgeous color. Her colorful choices continually amaze me. She's never fearful of playing with color & she Always pulls it off, from her sunny yellow toenails, seen in Hawaii over the Winter Holidays, to those deep purple gloves paired with her Inauguration coat to the deep red gown of last night. We've Never had a First Lady who could wear clothes as Beautifully and Naturally as our First Lady, and I Delight in her outfits! I also Delight in this blog, where I can so easily follow what Mrs O wears!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 6:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterZell

The whole thing was a miss--hair better suited for a kid or Tina Turner, coat too severe and with boots, looked like a Russian soldier marching on, the cardigan again, too casual ....the dress too casual and it bundles on the top chest area. Underarms anyone?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 6:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterLes

Thomas Browne outfit $10k, Reed Krakoff custom boots $2k, Jason Woo gown and accessories $10k ,20 million still unemployed after 4 years . Know this site is dedicated to idolatry of our Dear Mrs Leader...Whatever !

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 7:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterAtlanta gal

I can't help but think that Mrs. Obama chose this dress fully aware of how her decision would impact her legacy within the halls of the Smithsonian. She was obviously very aware that this dress would accompany her white Jason Wu from 2009, and can you imagine a more perfect companion piece? They will look amazing next to each other.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 8:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterMr. S

Instead of being disappointed she chose Wu again, try thinking about her selection as the dress she liked best that just happened to be by Wu. It is possible that the other dresses were not to her liking.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 8:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterTresL

Mrs. T , kudos to you for your astounding coverage of events! You did us proud, we really appreciate you!
When I saw our Michelle walk out on stage Jason Wu came to mind. I thought if it was not his design, well, someone else took their inspiration from the first inaugural gown and ran with it. Congratulations to Jason for a superb design that embodies our FLOTUS. I cannot think of anything that would've/could've been a better choice.
Michelle L. Obama is/was ON FIRE!!
Can you guys believe this......we have four more years of this fabulosness!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 8:44 AM | Registered CommenterCharlene in Detroit

I'm underwhelmed. She has had some real stunners over the past 4 years. This one is going to be in the Smithsonian and just doesn't measure up.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 9:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnnie

I went to the National Mall to bear witness to history yesterday and it was wonderful. The fashion struck just the right chords. Thanks for this place, Mrs. T. You do a fabulous job!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 9:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterAttygirl

She is the essence of grace and beauty!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterMs. C

Jestina, I'm so happy to hear that you had such a wonderful time! And you to ladywatcher! They said it was close to 1 million people out there yesterday. Enthusiasm gap my a$$!! Yesterday was SUPERB!! I hate that this is the last one, but at least we have four more years of this great family. Today, we get to see Mrs. O at the National Prayer Service and they have a staff ball tonight. Hopefully, we get a few pics from that event.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 10:24 AM | Registered CommenterNyon

Loved the navy inaugural outfit, it was so well fitting and flattering. The ruby gown is very beautiful on her and so fattering, but not as great as some of her state dinner gowns. Still, I think her wardrobe for this inauguration is far greater than 4 years ago. FLOTUS shows us how we can learn what flatters us the most and she has so evolved -great for her!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterJanice

Like the classic look with retro neck halter. Very flattering.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered Commenterlinda

@C: You stole my comment! ...What more glowing can be said? I think most of you have already used, completely, the best superlatives to describe how stunning Mrs. Obama has looked throughout the Inauguration Weekend. All I can add is that I was there! (Am still in D.C.) And I saw her/them with my very own naked eyes as they strolled happily up Pennsylvania Avenue. ...So happy to be alive to witness this history (a second time), The Obamas. Like (at least) 30 million others, I can put away the phrase "Never in my lifetime..."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 11:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterMarcus Perry

I was shocked she chose Jason Wu again. It would have been nice if she gave another designer esp. one not so well known a chance to shine but she has her reasons.

I was watching the ball with 3 other women and we all were underwhelmed. I hated the fabric (reminds me of my grandmother's old curtains), the cut was beautiful at the top but I didn't find it flattering at all from the chest down.

I can think of at least 1o gowns she has worn for other formal events and state dinners that put this dress to shame.

I find it hard to believe that out of all the designer creations submitted to her that this one was the best choice.

I know I am in the minority here...I'm sorry. :o)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 11:43 AM | Registered CommenterChauny

Count me among those underwhelmed by this gown. It’s a shame since I usually love her formal wear choices.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 11:48 AM | Registered CommenterBB

yesterday, I overlooked the haters because no one was going to ruin my day watching this historical moment in time. Today, I will say you are a sad bunch!! The fact that you have nothing better to do, but to come on a site dedicated to the woman you hate and spread that hate is truly sad. The fact that your jealousy and envy propels you to try to tear a person down is truly sad. The fact that the only way you can garner attention, negative attention I must add, is by coming on a blog and spewing your ilk is truly sad. The fact that you will undoubtedly come back and waste your time spewing hateful words is truly sad!!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 11:52 AM | Registered CommenterNyon

P.S. this is not to the people that does not like the dress or felt underwhelmed. The people that I am talking about know who they are.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 11:57 AM | Registered CommenterNyon

Color me unwowed. The color is fabulous, as is the back. But the neckline is unattractive, and I find the fabric cheap-looking. As always, the belt is off-kilter.
Mrs. Obama has worn some gorgeous gowns over the years. This isn't one of them.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 12:04 PM | Registered CommenterHyde Parker

Mrs O's gown was fresh, modern perfection. It fit her, the time and the place. Lovely. Really hoping the matronly Washington fashion era is behind us with Mrs O's influence. She is one of a very small group -- Jackie Kennedy and Nancy Reagan being the only other two -- whose inaugural gowns raised the fashion bar. Bravo!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 12:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterLynn

@Nyon, sad is right...tsk,tsk

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdear

Wonderful, as usual ! From head to feet ! But as some of you, I'll be waiting to get the waow factor with NK or MK ...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 1:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterjosee from Martinique

I heard Sally Quinn on CNN say she doesn't think Ms O has worn an Oscar de dress yet. I'm i mistaken but did she wear one in England at a reception for the Queen at the U.S embassy ( i think). A black number with fabulous jewels? I'm not the fashion expert like the rest of you but I really think she did.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterydavis

@ Hyde Parker, hardly surprising coming from you.
Please spare us all. Seriously.
Your continued obsession with Mrs Obama a woman you clearly disdain, is besides being tiresome, getting rather disturbing to say the very least.
I think it's time for the FBI to start paying attention. It's been 4+ years and your cyber stalking/slandering of Mrs Obama has to be seriously and fully addressed at some point.
Tracking you down - pretty simple.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 1:45 PM | Registered CommenterC.

This color is magical for our FLOTUS and the chiffon/velvet combination sounds so luxurious. If I ever get to DC again, I will make a beeline for the exhibit of First Ladies' gowns. We should call him Jason WUUUWUUUU!

@CiD, yes, we are in for four more fabulous years. Based on recent appearances, we are in for a lot of repeats, but who cares when the looks are this great?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered Commentera MI Mom

False "praise" is worse than true hatred. (And I won't even bother addressing you all directly by your pseudonyms.) But we can spot you, no matter how many "best Black friends" you claim you have. Or Motowon or jazz musicians you like. Or what trendy multi-ethnic neighborhood you live in. Or even if you can do the "bus stop" or "step" to R. Kelly without tripping over your ankle. You "come for" Mrs. O. incorrectly (and, like Nyon clarified, that doesn't mean "not liking" Mrs. O's fashion or style), then we come for you. Call you out. Every day. Every time. Trust.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarcus Perry

Say babs-that wonderful dress was velvet and chiffon-both very difficult fabrics to work with. Wouldn't we love to have a close-up look at the workmanship. I'm sure it's wonderful. I loved it! As far as Sally Quinn goes, even her friends don't like her. Alyse and gaylev--could it be that your political view dulls your appreciation of Mrs. Obama's style?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered Commenterauni

Red is a vibrant, powerful, rich color... it is a color that commands attention.. and our First Lady commanded everyone's attention when she walked out in that Wu dress! A understated elegance, a dress that makes you look at all of it, from every angle, to make sure you are not missing anything... a very special dress on a very special woman, and our President was thourghly enjoying holding both!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 2:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterPatsy Soto

To quote your words ladywatcher:
"...This dress encapsulates the place of comfort and contentment to which [Mrs. O] has arrived... Michelle Obama will not be forced into a fashion character..."

Yes indeed, FLOTUS has her own style and character. She is NOT a creature of fashion. She knows how to have fun with fashion, and yet still place it in its proper perspective. FLOTUS has a fitting and innate sense of how to rock what she wears for every occasion! That is one of the major reasons why every designer wants to design clothes for her. Such an honor and a privilege, not to mention a career boost!

I appreciate all of the genuine and honestly heartfelt critical and emotional reactions which demonstrate the variety of our views in regard to a woman who is universally admired. None of us have to like everything Mrs. O wears, nor do we always understand why she makes the choices she makes. But that's the fun of it, and that's the surprise. For me it has been a wonderful learning process. When it comes to Michelle Obama, we are all learning something, and it has been an evolution!

To all the intentionally OTT negative namby-pamby naysayers, watch out, your GREEN ENVY is showing. LOL!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 3:47 PM | Registered Commenterflotusrocks

I like the structure and the color of the dress. And her new hairstyle is versatile.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterMrs 2S

First Lady in red! Great choice Mrs Obama! Wasn't a fan of the bangs but this look is much better. Dr Jill Biden looks great too.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 4:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterfashionwatch

Once more I love that Mrs O chose a dress that she loved. Chose a beautifully cut dress in a vibrant, gorgeous scarlet, in a fabric that is arrestingly textured, flows and is as wonderful to touch as it is to look at. I'm delighted she chose something a little bit different, something that enhances her extraordinary physique, has pretty details in the knot and the cross over. It's sexy and chic, romantic without being ridiculous, and bold without dominating. In other words, it's the dress we all wish we chose to wear out for a big night, but rarely get it as right as this.

......
Haters, we see your sad little snipes. You look more pinched with every week that passes. Another four years and you will have turned into a little posse of Gollums, hissing about "beltses, my Previousssss, we HATESS beltsesssssss, don't we?"

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 8:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterPosh Tater

@Hyde YOU are the one who is "off-kilter"

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 8:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdear

I loved everything Mrs O. wore yesterday. Simply fantastic!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 8:47 PM | Registered CommenterAnn_T

Spot on Marcus! Thank you. They have to know they aren't fooling anyone.

@Chauny, Mrs Obama is under no obligation to showcase or "give other designers a chance to shine". None whatsoever.
This recent expectation that she must act as mannequin for any and all designers simply because she, of her own volition, decided to wear a variety of designers including small, new, less known and established and young ones - unlike her predecessors, is not just ridiculous, but insane.

The fact that some people now want to demand that she cater to or fall into some pre-conceived notion or fashion choice pattern they've entirely divined for her all by themselves by presuming to know what influences the choices Mrs Obama makes, not only shows the immense hubris on the part of these very presumptuous people on the outside looking in, but is quite insulting and disrespectful to this perfectly capable, smart, thoughtful, independent and thoroughly savvy First Lady.

She gets to pay for and she gets to wear the dress. It is also in the end, HER legacy as the dress is immortalized as part of the exhibit of first ladies. If she's happy with it, so am I.
She has more than earned the right to pick her own dress and designer no matter what others expect or think - and I have no doubt that she took everything into consideration and still picked Jason Wu and this dress.
She absolutely gets to make the choice and she chose Jason Wu again. And good for him!
And bravo to Mrs Obama for throwing a mighty cog in the wheel of those who were beginning to see themselves as "experts" of HER life and choices. LOL.

I just love the way she defiantly refuses to be trapped in other people's idea of what she ought to be and wear, or that artificial and contrived box -or defined by complete strangers who presume to know what's best for her and to know her better than she knows herself.
That is what in my opinion makes this strong, smart, clear-headed, warm, unassuming, insightful woman, an absolute inspiration and a joy to watch.

She rocks again and again! And I say, rock on Mrs Obama, you rule!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 9:52 PM | Registered CommenterC.

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