Image used with kind permission from photographer Adam Safran With all attention focused on the official Inaugural Balls, there was one fete that escaped our watchful eye. Last Wednesday night, President Mr. O and First Lady Mrs. O attended the Obama Staff Ball, which was packed full of young campaign staffers at the D.C. Armory and featured performances by Jay-Z and Arcade Fire. Thanks to CarolineG and others who first pointed out the glimpse of Mrs. O wearing black in one of the Pete Souza photographs published in the L.A. Times. For the event, Mrs. O wore a fitted black knit dress with ruching detail at the neckline and through its tiered knee-length skirt. Mrs. O kept the aesthetic streamlined and simple, pairing her dress with black tights and flat boots. Perhaps it's her long lines or the volume of her skirt, but we sense a dancer-like quality in Mrs. O here (see photo below). As Layo G. observes in the first comment, Mrs. O is a woman of many looks. The day before we saw her in a grown-up lemongrass dress and coat from Isabel Toledo. At night, she dazzled us in a shoulder-baring, dream-like ivory chiffon gown from Jason Wu. The next morning she hearkened back another era in a vintage-inspired print dress from Tracy Feith. And then here, later that same day, we find her dressed in basic black, reinvented with a decidedly more youthful silhouette. The multiplicity is part of what makes Mrs. O's style interesting, and well, so fun to follow. She seems to genuinely dress for herself, always mindful of the occasion - and it's rather refreshing that doing so doesn't mean she's confined to a single, uniform look. To accessorize, Mrs. O added a pair of silver drop earrings and a wristwatch (an obsessive style note - we've rarely seen Mrs. O wear a watch in the past). And with her hair elegantly pulled back off her face into a low ponytail, perhaps those yearning to see an updo during the Inauguration will finally be satisfied. Initially we thought this dress might be a Maria Pinto design - the "lean black cashmere number with a cascade effect in the back" - that Mrs. O had purchased from the designer but not yet worn, as described to WWD in November. Alas, we've confirmed that's not the case. Fortunately, ruching was a key trend in the Pre-Fall 2009 collections, which may help to narrow the pool of designers. As always, we'll keep you posted. Image used with kind permission from photographer Nora Kravec
Photo credit: Pete Souza / The White House
We are enamoured with this newly discovered photo from behind the scenes of the Inaugural Balls, taken by White House photographer Pete Souza. Beyond capturing a spontaneous, touching moment between our President and First Lady, it also helps to answer two lingering style questions. Did Mrs. O have a coat that coordinated with her Inaugural ball gown? And, what shoes was Mrs. O wearing underneath those flowing layers of ivory chiffon? I
n a thoughtful, gentlemanly gesture, President Mr. O lent his black tuxedo jacket to warm Mrs. O's shoulders. If there was a coat or cape or cashmere wrap to match her dress, the jacket wouldn't have been necessary. But for the sake of this photograph alone, we're happy it was. And to the best of our knowledge, it was the only coat that Mrs. O wore on Tuesday night. On the subject of shoes, we get just a glimpse of Mrs. O's ivory satin, open-toed heels. The designer? WWD reports, like much of Mrs. O's footwear throughout the Inauguration, they were also Jimmy Choo. For more behind the scenes photos, click here.
Mrs. O will usher in a new era of fashion in the White House, perhaps most significantly through her taste for mixing high and low end designs. Stunning in dresses from mass market retailers such as J.Crew, H&M, Gap and White House | Black Market on the campaign trail throughout 2008, Mrs. O has shown women how to dress stylishly without busting the bank.
Price, no matter how hard glossy fashion magazines might try to convince us otherwise, has weak correlation with style. Even Mrs. O was not exempt from that trap. From the campaign trail, one of her most praised outfits was the White House | Black Market dress, and one of her most controversial was the Narciso Rodriguez frock worn on election night. We have also been among those personally inspired.
Having previously dismissed White House | Black Market as perhaps a bit boring, we were intrigued by Mrs. O's appearance on "The View" wearing her now iconic Donna Ricco leaf print sundress. So when we passed by the chain's Georgetown boutique over Christmas break, we had to give it a second look, if only for a quick stroll inside to inquire about all the fanfare surrounding Mrs. O's sundress. As it happened, we accidentally discovered a beautiful jacket in oversized houndstooth at a very reasonable price. We are now happily sporting this around town, with a little secret personal connection to the First Lady.
Which leads us to wonder, how many moments like this has Mrs. O inspired? We'd love to hear your stories as well.