Michelle Obama in Reed Krakoff

Posted on June 04, 2011

Shelley O once again gave us a dress to talk about, bless her. We were talking to a fashion editor recently and when Michelle’s name came up, this editor essentially repeated what we’ve always said about her: She gets it wrong a LOT, but she’s the most adventurous (in terms of fashion) First Lady in our lifetimes. Even the sainted Jackie didn’t take as many style risks as Michelle does (although Jackie almost never got it wrong).

U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the Pritzker Architecture Prize Event in Washington, DC. Michelle Obama is wearing a Reed Krakoff dress.

Reed Krakoff Spring 2011 Collection/Model: Iris Strubegger

What a fabulous dress — on the model. It appears one too many “First Lady appropriate” changes was made and to our eyes, it ruined the look. If you can’t, for whatever reasons (body type, image, propriety) wear this dress with the belt slung low the way it was intended to be worn, then you shouldn’t wear the dress. Resorting to her standard underboob belt was a really bad idea here. In addition, the slit was moved to the back of the skirt and there appears to have been some skin showing on the model up around the straps, which appear to be more firmly and traditionally attached on Michelle’s version. The color looks fantastic on her and we really love the leather straps and how they frame her upper half. But restricting the flow of the dress by firmly belting it so high took all the interest and chicness out of it

[Photo Credit: getty, style.com]

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  • loy phillips

    Lady O is looking fine as usual but I am in love with those strappy shoes on the model.  I am soooo not a fan of these big giant platform shoes.

    • Anonymous

      Lady O’s gold shoes are pretty nice, too. 

  • Anonymous

    I think the most glaring mistake was changing the belt. The others could work okay, though I don’t really like the straps. It’s a gorgeous color on her though.

  • Anonymous

    I agree that the separated straps and front slit give the model an effortlessly chic feel, but I don’t think the world is quite ready for First Lady side boob and upper thigh, so for Obama this works better.  As has been and will be said, the real sin is the belt.  Still, great color, good silhouette.  Love the bare upper back and shoulders.

  • Judy_J

    The runway version is definitely much more interesting, but I think Michelle looks great in her version.  That color is just gorgeous, and I like the way the neckline frames her bodice and shoulders.

  • Anonymous

    I wish she did something else with the belt – though I don’t like the way the model is wearing it either. But I think the biggest problem with the dress is it looks fine standing still, but pretty tortured walking. It’s just pulling in all directions.

    The color is gorgeous on her though.


    • Agreed.  And it looks like the pulling is made worse by moving the slit to the back.

  • up with pod people

    I love it in the first shot, enough to give the other shots a pass. It’s a pretty great dress in both forms, but definitely a different one.

  • it’s just a standard royal blue-purple sheath now.
    i dont know why she wore it.

    & why is there a waist-string underneath the belt?
    it doesnt seem to do anything {other than look silly}.

  • I think she looks great! Mostly because of the colour of the dress against her skin tone. It is a fabulous dress without the changes that were made for Lady O but it is a quite pretty dress with them too.

  • Lisa

    I disagree, TLo – I actually think the dress looks way better on Shelly O than on the model!  Beautiful!

    • Totally agree with your disagree, Lisa – the runway version looks too fussy and Michelle has the shoulders to really make that neckline WERQ

    • Anonymous

      Agree, the modifications were done to suit her body type and style, and I think they worked beautifully.

  • Anonymous

    I like the version of the dress that the First Lady is wearing better than the runway version.
    The effortlessness of the runway version looks like it takes a whole lot of effort to maintain, I think in reality you would be fiddling with the belt and straps all evening long..

  • It doesn’t look bad on her but did someone glue her lips together off center?

  • I love this dress on Mrs O a lot!  The neckline is very flattering to her shoulders and arms, the color is absolutley lovely, and the belt is…the way she likes to wear belts.  Had it been lower, her hips would have been emphasized, so I think she did a good thing here.  I also love the shoes, earrings and those great luctie bangles.  All these add to the look without overpowering it. 

  • Anonymous

    The belt didn’t just take the interest out of the dress, it completely ruined the line of the gown. The skirt just hangs from her waistline, instead of draping away from the hips the way its meant to.
    Somebody really does need to get ahold of her gays and convince them she’s far, far, far, far too short-waisted to wear belted dresses. A-lines and sheaths is all she should be let out of the house wearing.

  • margaret meyers

    While I agree with you that this particular dress had everything interesting removed from it to make it appropriate for the First Lady, I think you are wildly overstating it when you say “she gets it wrong a LOT.”   For a First Lady, Mrs. O swings her fashion bat about as hard as any woman can.  She isn’t a model, she isn’t 25, she isn’t a size 4 and she isn’t the bored trophy wife of a millionaire.
    Taking into account the fact that she must present, first, a tasteful, relatively thrifty and lady-like appearance, you guys are lucky she doesn’t dress exactly like Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Clinton.  She could be seated with them in the fashion dugout, and instead there she is swinging away and getting a LOT of base hits, and many a home run.  You guys need to acknowledge that she dresses well enough that you cover her a couple of times a week. I’m sure the designers are glad to have her wear even their altered clothes.

    • Anonymous

      My thoughts exactly. And anyway often enough not even models look flawless (in real life) Why on earth would we expect any mere mortal to be? On a side note, too perfect can be too boring. I bet you’ll never call Mrs.O boring!!

    • Totally agree, and what she does get wrong isn’t even THAT wrong. She’ll wear the wrong belt or some questionable fitting pants but I’ve never seen her abs, an Ed Hardy tee or any pleather pants. She always looks like a nice, respectable lady. Which is exactly what she is. 

  • Anonymous

    She should’ve ditched the belt completely.  Love the color, though.

  • I love the color but that dress just doesn’t work for her. The original is amazing but the adjustments just made this dress seem like, to quote Gretchen the queen of knowing it all, Student work.

  • Alyson Lamble

    I agree that it’s a great color, but what consistently bothers me about Mrs. O’s penchant for belted dresses is that she seems to consistently wear them without a properly-fitting bra.  She’d look a lot less short-waisted if the girls were confined appropriately.

  • Anonymous

    I must respectfully disagree.  Yes, the dress on the model is a much sexier, flowing gown than what ended up on the First Lady but what ended up on the First Lady is lovely as well and much more appropriate for her and the occasion.  If no one saw the dress on the runway (and it is a small gorup that would) then FLOTUS’ dress is great as it stands.

  • Mrs. Kennedy didn’t get it wrong because she didn’t take risks.

  • Anonymous

    And let me just say here that President Obama looks perfect in black tie, since we never talk about the president! And in a tip o’ the hat to TLo, the trouser length is perfect.

    • Anonymous

      Yes let’s talk more often about how good HE looks all the time, and his fashion choices. I for one am very grateful that we finally have a President who presents an impressive look, instead of looking like a hillbilly schlub all the time!

      • Anonymous

        Schlub! One of my favorite words! I still hear my dad saying to us: “You’re not going out of this house dressed like a schlub!” But indeed, that was Bush, etc. all over again.
        One night, my brother and I were out to dinner at an Indian restaurant near the White House. THEN, in sweeps Bill Clinton, looking awesome in a Donna Karan tux, Hillary, and Chelsea. Everyone got up and clapped, and they made they way around the tables to talk to everyone. They didn’t pick up the dinner tab, but that way okay!

  • Anonymous

    By the way, anyone catch the article in The New Yorker about the Reed Krakoff empire? Interesting reading. 

  • Anonymous

    The belt really ruined what is a stunning dress. The color looks great on her, though.

  • Anonymous

    It doesn’t really look bad, it just doesn’t really make sense.  The color is beautiful on her.

  • I think her only mistakes are the shoes & the belt.  WHO told her that it’s appropriate to wear a belt that high on a regular chested woman?  WHY does she continue to do it when you know she sees pictures of this glaring fashion issue.

    But other than those two items, she looks fabulous.  She’s really starting to realize what she can do (minus those damn belts).  A strappy shoe would work better with this dress, even the changed one.

    At least she’s given up the cardigans, though!

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  • sophie elliott

    I have to say that I think she looks pretty fabulous.  

  • Anonymous

    I disagree – it’s a gorgeous dress on a gorgeous woman.  It totally works!

  • It looks good when she’s standing still, but once she starts walking it starts pulling in weird ways and doesn’t flatter.  I like that she loves color!

  • Anonymous

    I’d love to see Tilda in this dress.

  • MilaXX

    Sadly I’m not loving this look at all. The color is good, but the changes on the dress don’t work and I don’t even like her hair and makeup here. I might be more forgiving of the dress if that belt wasn’t there.

  • Anonymous

    I give her credit for trying, but a gown that started out as a floor length evening gown appropriate for First-Lady-wear might have been more successful than altering something that was initially cut & constructed to move rather differently.

    Still, the neckline is good, it’s a fabulous color, and she’s not flashing anything a First Lady shouldn’t. Could have been better, but it’s o.k.

  • Allison Woods

    I’m really glad she tried things, but I gotta agree with our den mothers here, the First Ladification of the dress took the coolness out of it. Still thinking happy thoughts about that black CK number in England!

  • Ditto. I think she moved the belt up because lower was too casual. But it doesn’t work way up high.

  • Anonymous

    I wish fashion editors would stop pushing the myth that a belt at your waist/”smallest point” emphasizes it and draws you in. It is a horizontal stripe at the smallest point, which as anyone with an ounce of 2d design knows makes that point look wider. This makes women look at best like rectangles, and at worst pinched and bunched (like a water balloon with a rubber band wrapped around the middle). Shelley is rocking the leather straps, halter, and color but the rest is just awkward.

  • Cosigned.

  • Anonymous

    She looks great,but people need to take cue from the runway styling,like Anna Dello Russo say,why ruin the outfit from the runway,because is part of the look.It could have been a great dress,with well thought modifications.

  • Ellen Calarese

    Better on the model

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s beautiful color for her and she just made it First Lady appropriate. I’m already imagining the awful things people would have said if she had let that much leg peep through.

  • Natasha Fratello

    Agreed wholeheartedly – the main feature that makes this dress unusual is that the straps/belt flow around the body. The flow was harshly halted a number of times along its way.

    Also agreed that she takes risks and sometimes/often gets it wrong, but I, too, love that she takes risks. The color is gorgeous on her.

    Finally, will someone please pull her aside and do an intervention about the “under the boob” belts? Bad. Just bad.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed wholeheartedly – the main feature that makes this dress unusual is that the straps/belt flow around the body. The flow was harshly halted a number of times along its way.

    Also agreed that she takes risks and sometimes/often gets it wrong, but I, too, love that she takes risks. The color is gorgeous on her.

    Finally, will someone please pull her aside and do an intervention about the “under the boob” belts? Bad. Just bad.

  • Anonymous

    It looks like two entirely different dresses.  I don’ t like either one–on Shelly, it’s boring.  On the model, it looks like they were in a hurry and forgot to sew–and the low-slung belt manages to hide her curves altogether.

    Bad dress, and bad choice.

  • I think the dress on the model has a slit in the front and back.  If you look at that picture very closely, you can see the runway through a tiny spot near the hem by the model’s leg.  The way the dress is loosely belted on her allows more flow on the skirt and allows the dress to slit open in the front.  The First Lady has it belted so firmly that the front slit doesn’t open when she walks.

  • Anonymous

    She fell for the top of the dress, which looks beautiful on her. She would have been better requesting that top for an entirely different dress tailored to her than to try to alter it and come up with this.   

  • Helen C

    I like it better on her.  On the too-thin model the dress looks sloppy. 

    MO is a very tall woman with muscles, so it’s hard to dress her.  She’s also a woman of color and that makes it dressing her even harder.  Jackie wears the same thing almost all the time.  

  • Anonymous

    Bless her heart, it looks terrible!! And from her expression, I think she knows it looks terrible. What was she thinking???

  • I love the neckline of this. A halter neck diagonal softens her athletic frame a lot. Colour is fab. The runway version would have been ridiculous on her, this is perfect.

  • Roshanna Pellini

    I like the dress better as it was shown on the model, but I think it suits Mrs. President, even with the changes. I definitely prefer it to the boxy shoulderpads look we always got from former first ladies.

  • Anonymous

    The “dress” looks like an apron on the model.  Much better fit on the top on Mrs. O.  Agreed on the belt.  It would have looked nicer split out and double wrapped but maybe it didn’t come with the same belt.  Anyway, looks no worse than her usual belts and the color and skirt slit look fab to me.

  • elzatelzabelz

    That belt is wrong, wrong, wrong. Good color on her though. And, points for a much better silhouette (in theory) than what she wore in Britain.

  • I think this is a little harsh.  Clearly, Ms. Obama is short-waisted and high waisted, and clearly, she likes a defined waist when it comes to her evening wear choices.  Sure, she can stretch herself out a bit with a sheath silhouette, but like you said, she isn’t Jackie O.  She takes risks, and she adapts clothing to her body type, which is, delicately speaking, not widely explored and embraced in the fashion world.  Considering her body type, and the legged silhouette this gives her (seriously, check out that walking shot) shows that she is highly conscious of how to flaunt her body type, and I would declare this a ‘right’.

  • I like that she shows off her great arms and shoulders, but as far as style goes, she is no Jackie.

  • scottyf

    You know what I like the most about Mrs. Obama when it comes to fashion? I get the sense that she chooses outfits that feel good to HER. I didn’t go to F.I.T or work in any style house, but it seems to me that choosing clothing that you feel good about is one of the first rules of thumb for establishing a true style. She’s not dressing for fierce bitchy fashion bloggers, or detractors whose personal closets alone would probably give T&Lo’s “Dress Libs” fodder for a full year. And it probably doesn’t hurt that she has a man that looks at her in loving awe.

    For me, she is becoming a style icon precisely BECAUSE she doesn’t bow under pressure to lower her belt, or cover her shoulders.

    If I’m not mistaken, playing it safe can be a death knell in the fashion industry. I love the fact that there is a strong, independent woman who, in a very elegant and lady-like way, says: “Fuck all you bitches–I’m wearing what I like.”

  • Anonymous

    Wait! Waitwaitwait! Is that actually a dress? Because in that one picture it looks like there is actually a harem pant thing going on, and you really can’t see on the runway version either.
    Love the color and the bodice, she could have moved the crossed belts a bit higher and retained some interest.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, we’ve seen worse. The color and cut and the fabric make up for the forced propriety. I like it better on the model too but what are ya’ gonna’ do?

  • Love the color on her.  She looks great.

  • Anonymous

    “….Although Jackie almost never got it wrong.”

    Oh, Elsa un-clench the pearls already!   Jackie Onassis never took any risks! She practically invented the chic, First Lady twin set  that so many FLOTUSes before our current one were practically imprisoned by. I definitely agree with one of the other posters who think you guys are overstating the “she gets it wrong a LOT” business. I’d say the 1st year was a little more touch and go but I think she’s really found her stride lately and regardless of whetherI like it or not she is rarely boring. 

    The Jackie O. look is such a restrictive concept that as we even witnessed on this years Project Runway, it’s impossible to design anything modern with her in mind. Although the judges claimed they wanted “fashion forward” (and I believe Andy’s shorts WERE…very Jackie Onassis if not Jackie Kennedy) they couldn’t see anything as ever being worn by Jackie except the one caricature dress that looked like a facsimile of a silhouette straight out of 1963. If you’re looking for Jackie Kennedy…Carla Bruni Sarkozy(sp) has done her best to emulate her as far as style… and you know what…it’s pretty…sometimes it’s impeccable but I wouldn’t call it fashion. 

  • Anonymous

    If the belt was criss-crossed as on the model, she could have worn it, well, halfway between where it is on the model and where it is on her. That would probably have worked. 

  • Ryen DeStefano

    Disagree I like the dress better with the changes and for the event. The original dress would not have been right to present an Architecture  prize. It’s much more structural with that changes. 

  • I think Shelley looks fabulous. Think of what a bore Laura Bush was…