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

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Tuesday
Jan272009

The World's First Lady of Style

President Barack Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama Image via Flickr user cliff1066 / Creative Commons Last week we saw a subtle, yet palpable change in the tone of how the world's press reported Mrs. O's style. Aside from the sheer, unstoppable volume of coverage garnered by the inauguration and her place within it, the consistent theme was one of decisive admiration: if ever there had been any debate about who was going to be the First Lady of Style on a global stage, that debate was now over. Perhaps particularly interesting to see AFP, the largest news agency in France, home to Carla Bruni, headlining their piece in this way. Inevitably there were the articles that examined Mrs. O's appearance in 'get the look' micro detail and a multitude that limited themselves to describing her outfits and the delighted reactions of the designers responsible, both of whom had become worldwide household names overnight. Yet what we found particularly extraordinary to see were the less transient themes that emerged from the European coverage last week. In short, a whole-hearted, emotional adoption of Mrs. O which transcends that even of an international style icon and role model. In her article Why Michelle is our belle, Hannah Betts at London's The Daily Telegraph talks of a 'communal crush that spans the Atlantic... Michelle is unique in being sufficiently imposing to be inspirational, whilst not being so far removed from the great mass of womankind as to prove alienating. It's a fine line, this heroine business, and she treads it most deftly." Another theme that took root across Europe's press over the weekend was of how her inauguration attire aimed to "silently signal the kind of First Lady she intends to be". As Lisa Armstrong wrote in The Times (London): "On this evidence, Mrs. O is going to be one forward-going First Lady....with one dress Michelle Obama had to reveal her personality and strike a blow for American style. No problem." There was little criticism of the one-shouldered, winter white Jason Wu dress, rather a celebration of its chic, feminine modernity. Other writers referred to her "high-powered personality" and "soft power" as they spoke of the renaissance she represents in every respect, from her championing of American design to her intelligent grasp of the live issues facing modern women and the communities they live in. As Tim Shipman, another writer at the Daily Telegraph, states: Mrs. O's outfits at the inauguration "cemented her status as the greater fashion icon in the White House since Jackie Kennedy...but there is more to Michelle Obama than that - much, much more....not merely an informal adviser but the power behind the President and on some issues even a leader." We will leave the last word here again to Hannah Betts at The Telegraph, who put it perfectly: "Can one woman bear this weight of expectation? I think we know the answer."
Monday
Jan262009

One Last Inaugural Ball

DSC_5264 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. The President and First Lady at the Obama Staff BallImage used with kind permission from photographer Nora Kravec

Monday
Jan262009

Hostess Gift Mystery Revealed

When Mrs. O and her husband first arrived at the White House on January 20, she was carrying a present in one hand. It was a large rectangular box wrapped with red ribbon. Until now, attention has been turned on the ceremonies and the celebrations. But now that the hoopla has calmed down a bit, we can all return to an unanswered question: What was in the box? It was a hostess gift from Mrs. O to Mrs. B, who has said that she now plans to use her time out of the White House writing her memoirs. But unlike many hostess gifts-candy, wine, flowers-this one was a highly personalized selection. It was a leather-bound journal inscribed with a quote from Louis L'Amour, the American writer known for his iconic Western novels: "There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. Yet that will be the beginning." Accompanying the journal was a pen engraved with the date January 20, 2009. What better way to start your memoirs? This is the first known time that an incoming First Lady has brought a gift to an outgoing First Lady. It's not fashion news, but we think it is a style worth noting.
Sunday
Jan252009

Behind the Scenes of the Inaugural Balls

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.

Sunday
Jan252009

Mrs.O-Inspired Style Discovery

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.