The Dress

Michelle Obama Isabel Toledo

There was no way I wasn't going to love this dress. First of all, I love that color. Secondly, I love Isabel Toledo. (I actually met her — and her fantastic husband — once. She's even better in person.) Then, when you add in that she is wearing all that as THE FIRST LADY, well, you can see how one might become a bit overwhelmed.

And then those fantastic gloves! Swoon. [Disclosure: I have a vintage pair in just that color.]

I read a couple of pages of people's comments on this on the NYT caucus blog, and was disappointed that no one seemed to realize that Michelle Obama does what I advocate everyone should do: she wears what makes her happy. Could she have worn some boring royal-blue, be-Spanx-ed sheath, by Oscar de la Renta (no offense, Oscar, but you know what I'm talking about) and gotten relieved and approving nods from the Fashion Commentariat? You know she could. But she obviously loves those gloves: they made her happy, so she wore them. WITH a yellow wool lace Isabel Toledo!

The thing is, you can't please everyone all of the time. You can't even please most of the people most of the time. Which is why, especially when it comes to clothes, you have to please yourself. You're the one wearing them; you're the one in the pictures; you're the only one whose happiness is even remotely under your own control: so do what feels right!

Michelle Obama Jason Wu

I like this one too, even though it's not my taste. (In other words, I don't have a tulle-laden Jason Wu in my closet next to my green gloves.) I do think it looked great. But even if I didn't, I'd see that Michelle Obama is accessorizing it with the only things that really matter: confidence, happiness, and the kind of ease that comes from having made one's own decisions.

And that, my friends, is something that I hope the new First Lady brings firmly into fashion.

0 thoughts on “The Dress

  1. I usually like everything she wears and I think she is generally awesome. I think I am the only person in the world that thinks that green lace wool enseble was ugly and matronly. It did her no favors. I did love the gloves though.That being said, she was beautiful in the evening gown later in the day.

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  2. LOVE the yellow Isabel Toledo ensemble. LOVED it at first site, especially with the pop of green. One of the fashion people on CNN said that he wouldn’t be surprised if the ball gown was originally strapless, and modified to one shoulder, to avoid slippage. That distracted me after that, trying to figure out if it was. Although the white dress didn’t play well on TV, I still loved it. And I just love watching the two of them together.

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  3. The strap with that stiff bodice on her evening gown does not work. If she needed the strap to hold up the dress, then put on two. Otherwise, the bodice is crying out to be strapless. One-shouldered gowns work with a goddess column of silk.

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  4. Eagle-eyed commentators spotted that Michelle was wearing sheer tights for the inauguration ceremony but peeled them off at some point later in the day: more evidence of her putting comfort first, thank goodness. She’s gonna be fun to watch.

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  5. I HATE the yellow dress. The design is good but the color I do not like at all. I think it’s an odd, puke-y type of color that doesn’t look well on any skin. The white gown – GORGEOUS! I like that Barack is checking out his wife too!

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  6. The yellow/gold/green coat and dress with green gloves and shoes? Superb! Very sophisticated and yet very approachable. The white dress – would like to see it in person, but I think this might be a case of an inexperienced designer not quite doing the foundation quite right. It takes expertise to pull that off (ie Lady Di’s strapless/one strap creations)

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  7. I was also hoping for more hats. I actually cheered for Aretha’s. I think a pillbox would have been right at home with the day suit, even if it would have caused people to suggest that she was trying too hard to channel Jackie.Neither ensemble was exactly what I would choose for myself. I absolutely loved the colors of the day suit and she looked truly fabulous in both the day suit and the gown. someplace I heard it said that the gown was actually a soft yellow but read as white. I do not know if that is true. Oh, there was a scarf under the coat of the day suit and it didn’t quite match. Suprise! Even the First Lady has a hard time finding a perfectly matched scarf. It kind of makes me smile that she was practical enough to put it on, rather than totally freeze. I am really glad that she is wearing what she likes and not trying to be all cookie-cutter about it.

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  8. I loved Michelle’s daytime dress; it’s an unusual colour that makes her look positively radiant! I also love that her gloves and shoes were a different colour – and is that a red clutch? What perfect colour choices!I love that the ballgown was a ballgown and not something for the red carpet. It was clearly a dress that she could comfortably wear to 10 balls.Michelle clearly chose clothes that she was comfortable wearing for hours and hours and that looked beautiful on her. She dressed for herself (and her husband), and I hope that she continues to do so.I also loved Aretha’s hat.

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  9. Fashion rules are really like the Pirate Code anyway…more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.So I say sparkle for the day, white shoes after Labor Day, not matching gloves and shoes.I loved everything she wore this past week including that great 50’s inspired dress/skirt set to church yesterday morning.Buh-bye power suit for every occasion.

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  10. At first I wasn’t too thrilled with the gown — mainly because I don’t tend to like clothes I think of as frilly and foo-foo. But then I thought of something. That white dress with the single shoulder strap called attention to and contrasted with her beautiful, luminous, glowing, rich, BROWN skin. She did not try to de-emphasize the fact that she is African American but, rather, actively pointed to it, revelled in it. I just love that. And then when they started dancing, I began appreciating the gown more and more.And I love the yellow (whatever) outfit. I wish so much I could wear some version of yellow but I just look washed out and quite ill when I try to wear it. (I’m way too fair.)Now, how do we bring back HATS???? (I LOVED Aretha’s!) It was ridiculous seeing all those women AND men bareheaded in those freezing temperatures.

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  11. I have answers!It was not a scarf, it was a cardigan. The dress with the cardigan over it is actually not as attractive, but it’s a cute cardigan (if you look up pictures from the prayer service prior to the inauguration, you can see the cardigan).The inauguration dress is lemon-grass, according to Toledo, and I think it’s very interesting that so many people saw it in such different ways. I wonder if it’s just that people have different eyesight, or HD TVs show it differently than LD ones.The inaugural ball dress was supposedly either a light yellow (which I doubt) or a creamy white. It was not originally strapless. It was designed specifically for her like that. If you see the bodice up close, you can tell better.I completely agree with Erin that what makes these dresses so wonderful is that she clearly choose them because she liked them, not because her stylist told her to wear them. I love a strong woman who knows what she likes to wear, and wears it well.

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  12. I am not a big Obama fan, but I love Michelle’s style. I love the fact that she dresses for herself and not for the “fashion” public. I love this ball gown picture. You can so the love her husband has for her.

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  13. Oh, there was a scarf under the coat of the day suit and it didnt quite match. Yes, I am QUITE sure I spotted a too-bright scarf at some point, too. Maybe she ditched it later on.I’m glad she didn’t wear a hat. Sorry. I lived in Manhattan for a decade and left without having worn a single hat — let alone earmuffs — in all those winters. The functional ones just look clumsy and bulky and mess up your hair…and I was willing to suffer. Ah, youth.Going hatless made Michelle Obama look sleeker, more youthful…not intimidated by a few celsius degrees. I love that look. LOVE ME, NOT MY HAT!

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  14. If anything, I liked that her inaugural outfit was DIFFERENT. It wasn’t red, it wasn’t blue. It wasn’t a suit. I liked the matching jacket and dress. I wasn’t nuts about the cardigan exactly, but you know, if SHE was more comfortable in it, then I’m “pro-cardigan.” And we’ll ALL be watching to see what she wears next!

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  15. Loved the suit, loved the gown, loved the green gloves. But not with the green shoes. In the pictures I saw, the gloves were olive green, the shoes, teal green. It wasn’t that they didn’t match–they clashed! Plus, it was too many shades of green: mustard, teal, olive. I would have preferred a different color shoe altogether (taupe, perhaps).On the other hand, the shoe/glove mismatch made her seem more real: “Hey, I ordered the gloves, I picked up the shoes, and the morning of the event I noticed they didn’t go together. Oh, well, the outfit’s great, and I’ve got better things to worry about.”There was a lot of self-confidence in that ensemble.Cammy

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  16. Another thing I like about Michelle Obama’s fashion choices is that she is wearing the clothes of emerging AMERICAN designers, not the established tried and trues. Also no one has talked much about where she is getting her wonderful brooches and earrings, but I bet she might be sometimes wearing vintage and artisan-made pieces. I’d love to see her wearing artists’ work instead of just gem stones.Anna S.

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  17. Her confidence supercedes fashion. Just because I think those green shoes looked weird with the rest of the outfit (which I love – lime, lime, lime, such a nice change from blue and red), she’s not bothered by it. And I’m sorry, but that gown looks like it was made from a chenile bedspread. Too lumpy for her figure, but she seems to like. For sure he likes how she looks in it.

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  18. I gotta say, Michelle’s best accessory is her smile! Okay, and her husband! Waht a great looking couple…..just to be shallow about the whole thing. I love her style and am looking forward to the next EIGHT years! Teresa

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  19. If Cindy McCain were wearing that green ensemble, few would rave about it. Having a strange sense of fashion m’self, I really kind of like it, but… Michelle could show up in a shower curtain right now (which she appeared to have done at the inaugural ball) and half the world would be in love with her for it.(the saving grace on that white dress is that she has fabulous arms!)

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  20. If Cindy McCain were wearing that green ensemble, few would rave about it. Having a strange sense of fashion m’self, I really kind of like it, but… Michelle could show up in a shower curtain right now (which she appeared to have done at the inaugural ball) and half the world would be in love with her for it.(the saving grace on that white dress is that she has fabulous arms!)

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  21. That’s because if Cindy McCain had been wearing it she would’ve looked sick and washed-out, just like the rest of us. As many have noted, few people can carry off that color.

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  22. I love that I get to see these, as living in 1955 I did not allow myself to watch the inaugeration, as I do not have modern tv right now, but what a great sense of style she is bring. I have to say, from here in 1955 I think that she wore matching shoes and gloves is tres’ chic and is very appropriate from where I am standing. And I LOVE tulle and that dress has a very 1950’s feel. It made me feel all a flutter, now if she will just wear a crinolin or two to somthing I will positively swoon. I heard someone belittling that the media was talking about Michele making her first important ‘decision’ as to what to wear to the ball. I think it IS an important decision and one very fitting to her role and place. She is, after all, not an elected official and she needs to very much set a tone for fashion and decorum and I want to look to her with pride and envy and think, “ooh, I’d like that dress or that handbag”. There is nothing small or unintelligent about fashion, so I am glad we here seem to realize that such a role is not small or silly but shows who a person is and how they represent themselves, their husband and the country. Yeah Michelle, I love you.

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  23. i really love what michelle wore too and i think it is apparent that she chose those things because she loves them and they are an expression of who she is, not what other expect.i also have to comment on how much president obama (i love saying that) and michelle appear to be in love – it’s so uplifting to see that.

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  24. I personally don’t like very many of the First Lady’s fashion choices but I love the fact that she wears what she likes and feels comfortable in! She doesn’t seem to feel the need to play it safe.

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  25. she is just so cool… i don’t always LOVE her clothes, but i like that she takes risks, looks confident, and doesn’t play it safe. i wonder if she uses a stylist? regardless, i am so excited to have a cool lady like that in the white house!

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  26. How great is it that our President not only loves, respect, and (by all appearances) is devoted and faithful to his wife (and daughters) but thinks his beloved spouse is smoking hot! Just the hope our country needs. . . .

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