It’s old news that Michelle Obama is a highly-regarded public figure. She was named the most Popular Democrat this year, with a higher approval rating than her husband even. Mrs. Obama’s good standing in the public eye is the result of several factors, including her strong persona, her commitment to social issues like health and rights for military families and her unwavering support of her husband. But you can’t talk about Mrs. O’s like-ability without acknowledging her prominence in the fashion industry.
Mrs. Obama wields the power to sell out a garment of clothing as soon as she wears it and countless books and articles have been written about her fashion influence. But now four years after she first became First Lady, Daily Beast writer Robin Givhan surmises that the conversation about Michelle Obama’s style has become stagnant.
Michelle Obama is not a Barbie doll, a shape-shifting Hollywood starlet, a chameleon model or the female equivalent of Justin Bieber. And so, I have reached a saturation point on the small talk about her clothes. Fashion fatigue has set in. I cannot countenance any more breathless, fanzine-style chronicling of her attire.
Many writers, including myself, have argued that Michelle Obama’s fashion choices are significant. For example, when she chose to repeat her Michael Kors dress on Election Night, it made her appear more down-to-earth and relatable than First Ladies who would never dare wear an outfit twice on the national stage. Givhan ascertains those moments are the exception and not the norm:
Sometimes, Mrs. Obama’s clothes convey significant messages about economics, female power, and the potency of the creative spirit. Upon occasion, she has used fashion as silent support of women and minorities, and as a nonverbal rebuke to those who would see the design world as only frivolity and nothing serious. But more often, her clothes are simply lovely frocks, worth admiring in slideshows and picture books, but not worth discussing.