First Lady of Fashion
As Washington, DC prepares for President Obama’s second inaugural celebration in two weeks, everyone’s starting to buzz about who the first lady might be wearing during the historic events. Since 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama has single-handedly jump-started the careers of many little-known and independent fashion designers and has brilliantly mixed high fashion with Target and J. Crew, so expectations are very high.
However, there’s also a growing sentiment regarding what role fashion with play post-inaugural. Many women are hoping that a more vocal and substantive Michelle Obama will emerge in her husband’s second administration, continuing her focus on military families, obesity, and healthy eating, while also taking a more vibrant leadership role on issues like education, women and work-life balance. The feeling is that too much was made of the first lady’s fashion choices in the president’s first term and it’s time for Michelle to step off the runway and tell us what she really thinks.
While, at times, I have wondered what Michelle’s opinions are on matters of the day, I don’t think her style has been a hindrance to her success or substance as first lady. In fact, I feel that the first lady’s style has made her relatable and inspiring, especially to young women.
As fashion critic Cathy Horyn stated recently in the New York Times:
There is a modern element in Mrs. Obama’s understanding of her role as first lady that has been taken for granted, and that is a culture obsessed by celebrity and style. How much was she aware of that in 2008? It’s hard to know. She was proud to relate to young people, but did she realize that fashion magazines like Vogue had ceased being elitist bastions and were embracing new role models: athletes, pop stars, celebrity designers? In hindsight, her decision to shift from mom and busy professional to glamour figure was a brilliant one. It effectively protected her [from criticism].
What do you think? Can the first lady be an effective advocate for serious issues while maintaining her status on the international best dressed list?
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