America’s First Lady – Michelle Obama

posted in: Style advice | 9

One of my absolute style icons is Jackie Kennedy. I wish I could dress exactly like her everyday. Since she left politics (1963) there has been something of a vacuum in terms of style at the very top in the USA.

Until Michelle.

What  refreshing change to have someone who looks great, enjoys her clothes, and in many ways outshines her husband (although his rendition of Amazing Grace last week was very touching).

Michelle has a feminine, shaped figure, with relatively large hips. She is also, for a woman, very tall at 6′. She is toned, with good muscular arms and really great legs. She has deep-cool colouring and looks best in strong colours, with bright colours working well too.

Here she is in patterned knee length day dresses. Certainly the overall silhouette is good. Her slim upper body, long limbs and delicate hands are all shown off with the knee-length skirt and the bracelet level sleeve. Unfortunately I don’t think the scale of these patterns (see below) or even the colour is great on Mrs O. I feel she should stay away from pastels, fussy prints and muted shades.

The black dress with pink and green is nice enough, but the high neck and boring black belt make this a characterless choice. Also as she is so tall she can get away with a much more dramatic scale of pattern. This looks almost ditsy. The green dress is a bit better with the round neckline, but again the pattern is again a little bit small. The creamy shoes are too light for her legs and pick up the beige background in the dress. The skirt and polo neck is a nice shape but it really doesn’t come together, does it? The sweater is a good colour but it needs lighting up, or bringing out, with a better skirt. I would have had her in dark red boots or tights too rather than black. And the colours in the skirt are far too warm – it’s a good skirt but would look far better on a red-head or someone with reddish-brown hair.


When Michelle choses strong, bright colours, colour-blocked or just solids, she looks amazing.  Her skin, eyes and teeth look so bright and vibrant. These looks are also a bit more fashionable and daring. The lower necklines give a more open look and actually stop her looking so very tall. The large colourful jewellery with the plain fitted “body con” dresses are on the right scale for her. And although she looks just fine in a fuller skirt some of the styles she has chosen make her hips look really big. The colour blocked dress in the middle gives some interest at the shoulders, making her hips look in proportion. The neckline on the red dress has the same effect.

Let’s have a look at Michelle wearing the pants. Trousers tend to work better on women with slim hips and straighter, but as someone who has much of her height in her legs Michelle can certainly look very nice in trousers. Below we have a bad look, and OK look and a successful look.

The peplum top and white trousers is not a good look. Michelle looks good in white (much better than cream) but the yellow ruffle draws our eye in and we feel that she is short and wide. As her hips are bigger than her upper body I would generally suggest darker pants, although in all these pictures Michelle has gone the other way. The fuller cream trousers and embroidered cardigan is a nice, modern look, but the colours could have been so much better. Best of all is  the monochrome look in the last picture. These purply blues look amazing on her, creating a pulled together, elegant effect. The long silver beads just help to make the outfit a bit more interesting and  she looks completely at ease, unlike in the other two pictures.

The very best look for Mrs Obama is wearing a full length evening gown. I will cover this in a future post.

9 Responses

  1. Natasha

    I know I’m not famous, except in my own lunchbox (?) but feel free to analyse my sewing faux pas anytime! You do a very thorough and insightful job. As someone with a similar build to Mz Obama (minus the height, toned body, great hair – hmmm, what similarities are left?), I struggle with appropriate summer holiday clothing that looks breezy but doesn’t accentuate my hips ?. Thanks for posting.

  2. Lesley

    I don’t know enough about styling but I do love that 2nd dress – the green one with the beading. Awesome and I think the shoes pick up the colour of the underskirt. She is so elegant, I really hope they’re as nice in real life as they seem in celluloid!

  3. Stephanie

    This is great, K. Like Lesley I don’t know much about styling at all. I do love the trousers with the yellow beaded sweater and also the green dress is interesting, though I can see your points re. these ones. I see what you’re saying about the colours in the blue trouser outfit, though the varying lengths and shapes to me cover her best assets.

  4. mrsmole

    Some days she looks amazing and others look quite blah. The dainty pastels do nothing for her or things that are over fussy. Being so tall she could wear almost anything and be dramatic and take center stage but she holds back. We were all hoping that she would find a couple of upcoming designers that would work with her to create shapes that suit her and most of the general population.

  5. Lisa

    No fair including JKO! 🙂 She came from serious money and could afford haute couture clothing.

    I think Ms. Obama looks very good. I’m like you – with her lovely coloring, I really think she looks beautiful in the deep rich colors. I loved the way she looked in the cerise sleeveless dress!

  6. Bunny

    I guess much is in the eye of the beholder. I love her in the maroon top and print skirt. It fun, hides her lower half beautifully, letting her trim upper half shine and she is tall enough to easily handle all those horizontals. I don’t care for the last “periwinkle” outfit at all. It hides her assets and is too much of one color on her with all the length. It wears her, not vice versa, IMO. I love the bright jewel tones and how they contrast with her skin. She is lovely. Awesome post!

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