Michelle Obama in Tracy Reese at 50th Anniversary of March on Washington

Posted on August 29, 2013

Honestly, it feels really weird to talk about the clothes someone wore to such an important historical (and sadly, still political) event, but…


President Barack Obama with his wife Michelle Obama and former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton during the ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington, DC. Michelle Obama is wearing a Tracy Reese floral embellished flared dress.

Tracy Reese Fall 2013 Collection

… it really is a gorgeous dress. Visible from blocks away, photogenic, and amazingly flattering. Love the hair too.

It should be noted that Tracy Reese is the most prominent and successful African-American women’s wear designer currently. Given FLO’s demonstrated facility with using fashion to make subtle, sometimes symbolic statements, it’s possible she didn’t just pick this dress because it photographed well.



[Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images, style.com]

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  • These photographs make my heart sing.

  • Carrie

    She looks stunning. Go FLO

    • Earlier this week, I was thinking that it had been a very long time since FLOTUS had made an appearance here. This is a fabulous answer to my musings.

  • Nina Rumpus

    I was was looking at that very dress (or one extremely similar) on the Anthropologie website yesterday and bemoaning the fact that it costs almost $500! I love me some Tracy Reese dresses!

    • osu86

      Ohh, thanks for the heads up! —> Heads over to Anthro to check it out. Maybe eventually it’ll go on sale and then us commoners might be able to afford it! Gorge!

      • Donna Tabor

        Ha, don’t count on it now, after Mrs. O has worn it! It’s probably already sold out.

    • AmeliaEve

      Oooh, looking on the website I can see that there is some beading detail in the bigger flowers that doesn’t really read in the photos hear. Even nicer.

    • marlie

      Though still out of my price range, $500 isn’t all that unreasonable for something “designer.” Maybe if I save lots and lots of pennies…

  • Emily Dagger

    I’d also wondered if the poppies, with their link to memorials (e.g. Remembrance Day) were a conscious part of the decision.

    On a shallower note, I want the hell out of that dress.

    • Erica_Vuitton

      I immediately thought of the poppies for Remembrance Day too. She and/or her stylist made a fantastic choice with this dress.

    • Leah Elzinga

      I don’t think the poppies are accidental at all. I’m not sure if they’re quite as strong a symbol in the states, but I’d say they’re THE symbol for remembrance here in Canada.

      • Cautiously Pessimistic

        Poppies are relatively common here in the Chicago area. I don’t know about the rest of the country, but you see gentlemen from the VFW giving them out around Veterans’ Day. If I were a betting woman, I’d bet good money the poppies weren’t an accident.

        • kimmeister

          I’m in Northern California (where we have our own native species of poppy that is actually illegal to uproot) and I’ve never heard of the poppy’s connection to remembrance.

          • Cautiously Pessimistic

            It’s a reference to “In Flanders Field” which is about WWI. The poem was written by a Canadian, and the tradition of wearing poppies on the lapel is common in Canada and the UK. The VFW here in the Chicago area gives them out, and at events they sponsor or participate in, that poem is frequently read.

          • MoHub

            We always had poppies on Veterans Day. But then, I’m bone-creakingly old.

          • MoHub

            “In Flanders fields the poppies grow
            Between the crosses, row on row.”

          • It’s also the state flower of California.

          • fursa_saida

            From Boston, and never heard of it either until a few years ago when I started seeing it pop up online re: Canada and the UK.

    • smh4748

      That was my first thought as well.

  • This makes me smile very wide, in every possible way.

  • Introspective

    love michelle. love this dress. love the subtle politics of choosing tracy reese as you note uncles tlo.

    all around its a WERQ for me.

  • Meg0GayGuys6

    I’m still in the MM mindset… If Joanie wore this, what would it mean?! Big red flowers! Love is blooming!

  • Diego!

    She looks gorgeous and that dress is beautiful, simple, chic and eye-catching! I love the overall look! It’s a pitty we can’t see her shoes tough 🙁

    • Heather

      True – am hoping/assuming she didn’t wear the same horrifying things as the runway model.

    • e jerry powell


      I’m expecting that it was a simple black pump, though.

  • random_poster

    That dress is gorgeous! Could someone fill me in on the designer’s use of “fashion to make subtle, sometimes symbolic statements”, please?

    • quiltrx

      Not the designer–Mrs. Obama.

      • random_poster

        Oh, wow. If that mis-read wasn’t a plea for coffee on my part, I don’t know what is. Thanks, quiltrx!

    • alyce1213

      Poppies symbolize remembrance. Also, on a black background.

  • SewingSiren

    Love it. Everything about it.

  • HVM


  • HM3

    I love that she is our first lady. She looks elegant, proud, and yet respectful of the gravity of the occasion. You go, FLOTUS!

  • HM3

    Waitaminute–what was on her feet??

    • Karen Belgrad

      Since we only have our imaginations to answer this question… I’m going with pink fuzzy bunny slippers.

      (Love your profile icon)

    • JDreesen

      since i was [shamefully] thinking the same thing, i went on a Google Quest to find out. i clicked on the first image that looked promising, and when the site came up – i shit you not – the bottom of the photo, where the shoes would be, was immediately obscured by a POP-UP AD FOR UGGS.

      i grabbed a screenshot. it may end up being my new desktop background.

    • coffeeandshoes

      That was my question too – I MUST KNOW!!

    • gabbilevy

      She was wearing black, pointy-toed, kitten heel pumps 🙂

      (My news org has some images that have her feet visible)

      • Sarah

        Ha I was scrolling down to reply “Whatever it was it must’ve been kitten heeled” and there you have it. FLO loves her a kitten heel.

      • HM3

        Fabulous. Thank you.

  • Carol

    I want that dress.

  • Gorgeous!

  • NYCGlamourpuss

    OMG, I LOVE this! It’s probably one of my favorites on her. What can I say, I’m kind of a sucker for a red and black poppy print.

  • Karen Belgrad

    Breathtaking… that may be one of the most beautiful daytime looks she’s ever worn. Love the silhouette.

  • carnush

    I got goosebumps from these pictures.

    • LuisaNL

      I did, too. just, wow.

  • DTLAFamilies

    JIMMY CARTER!! Sorry, just so happy to see him out and about. Luv him.

    • alyce1213

      Most ethical president.

      • MoHub

        He was too ethical to be a good president, but that’s why he’s a great man.

  • sugarkane105

    I love how the dress works on so many levels. And I think her hair looks better than it ever has.

    • mlle

      I liked the hair from the front and fell in love when I saw the back.

  • Nancer

    Amazing! Love this. Love her.

  • Eva_baby

    Yeah, you don’t even realize that there are three actual Presidents (and one presidential statue) in the picture with her. Her dress and look just pops, the eye and forces you to look at her.

    • Linda LaPaz

      Agreed, Shelly O is killing it here. But my eye was drawn to the silver fox Bill Clinton. He looks great!

      • alyce1213

        Never better. I think it’s the vegan diet.

      • mlle

        Is it just me, or has he started looking a bit like John Slattery as he’s lost weight?

        • kimmeister

          John Slattery is my ultimate silver fox. Yum!

  • gorgeous!

  • Anplica Fiore

    The dress (& FLOUS) look great, but especially due to the nature of the event, I saw the poppies and thought of gunshot wounds. 🙁

  • filmcricket

    Just stunning. What a gorgeous dress. What a gorgeous couple. I like that she added the waistband/belt, too. It’s unobtrusive enough that it doesn’t cut her weirdly in half, as her belts sometimes do, but it also masks that awkward pattern clash at the seam that you can see on the runway version.

  • mjude


  • OrigamiRose

    I need that dress. I am a year-round sleeveless dress-wearer and I’m pretty sure I’d have to buy two of those because I would wear that one out. What a stunner.

  • Sobaika

    I love!!!! I diiiiiiieeee.

    Clearly the presence of Jimmy Carter turns me into Rachel Zoe.

    • Where were the George Bushes? And the other top Republican leaders? They were all invited and chose to skip such a momentous occasion.

      • ETA: I just read below that George the Younger is recovering from heart surgery, but that doesn’t excuse the absence of the GOP’s leaders.

        BTW, I was back at work 2 1/2 weeks after valve replacement surgery at 65. Just sayin’.

      • MoHub

        George Sr. isn’t in the best of health. But I’d have loved to see Colin Powell up there.

      • not_Bridget

        Bush Sr has something like Parkinson’s & is wheelchair bound. He was in the hospital for weeks over the holidays & his overall health is fragile. His son had a stent installed recently for a blocked artery. I’ve not been his greatest fan but he sent a well-worded statement of regret for not attending.

        All of Congress was invited but the Republican members declined to attend. Let us talk of more pleasant matters……

  • decormaven

    Gorgeous! Thank you, FLO, for keeping the fashion standard high.

  • Sara Brams-Miller

    She really does look incredible.

  • Tanya Wade

    Just gorgeous. She is amazing. And the dress is, too.

  • GorgeousThings

    I want that dress. I like it better on FLOTUS than on the model – it looks a little shorter (mid-knee) and more flattering.

  • HobbitGirl

    If I’m not mistaken (because I covet Tracy Reese dresses) this one has a subtle snake print jacquard in the fabric. Love the combination of strength and softness here.

  • MaggieMae

    FLOTUS perfection.

    I was inspired to bop over to Tracy Reese’s web site, and I saw a lot of clothes I liked!

  • Jacquelyn

    Classy and elegant. She looks great!

  • MilaXX

    Pretty sure she did indeed chose that designer on purpose. It’s one of the reasons why I like her.

  • Fordzo

    JIMMY CARTER AND BILL CLINTON!!!!! Look at dem silver foxes!

    • Denise Alden

      Here’s shallow for you: I am still not over Bill Clinton. I know, I’m pathetic.

      • Fordzo

        Not sure what you mean by “over”? But when Laura Ling and Euna Lee came home from N. Korea with Bill and he got off the plane and hugged Al Gore, I started sobbing. My mom and sister where watching with me, and they were both like, “You didn’t shed a tear for these women coming home to their families, but you’re crying over Bill and Al?” It was just a beautiful embrace. And I wished I was in the middle of it.

        • Denise Alden

          I love your story!

    • Spicytomato1

      And by the looks of BO, he’ll be in the silver fox club before too long.

  • Bexxx

    That last picture made me misty. So beautiful.

  • Just Me

    Shelley O looks great! Shutting it down!

  • ccinnc

    My son and I saw this clip on the news. We both gasped. My son said, “Clinton and Carter are there!” I said, “Michelle looks gorgeous!” 🙂

  • Carleenml

    I’ve often thought that I have pretty much the exact same body (sans the fab arms) as Michelle and I really wish I could get all her hand-me-downs.

    • DB Ruberto

      I’m thinking we can fight over them…

  • ConnieBV

    That last photo is making me verklempt.

    • Spicytomato1

      Me, too. It’s kind of breathtaking.

  • SugarSnap108

    Perfection. There’s something about it that’s solemn but celebratory at the same time. Just right for the occasion, and she looks gorgeous, too.

  • frannyprof

    LOVE Tracy Reese. She and FLo are a match made in heaven. Perfect choice for the occasion.

  • Rand Ortega

    Absolutely beautiful. Kudos to Mrs. O for having the presence of mind to honor such an incredible occasion in such a thoughtful way.
    That last photo is POWERFUL.

  • Rand Ortega

    PS: President Clinton is looking quite dishy these days! Very fit & healthy.

  • BKagainwiththesweatpants

    She really is the total package, isn’t she, as a woman and as FLOTUS! I unreservedly luv huh, and this dress is giving me all kinds of LIFE today.

  • marlie

    She looks just lovely! I really want that dress!

  • imakeart

    Can’t believe I never noticed how much she looks like her mother.

    • marlie

      You know, it would be *fascinating* if Mrs. Robinson were interviewed for the 50th. I bet she’d have some really moving stories of what it was like to watch history unfold 50 years ago.

  • Judy_J

    Ms Obama looks fabulous! That dress is perfect for her. And Bill Clinton has become quite the silver fox, hasn’t he?

  • crash1212

    Fashion with a purpose. Love her.

  • ballerinawithagun

    Love that they added the belt/sash! It really finishes the look and Michelle knew she would be seen from behind, as in a wedding, you must have some visual interest from the back. Fabulous!

  • Laura Renee

    So is it too obvious to point out what those beautiful poppies resemble, especially on such a black field? I mean, I think it’s perfectly appropriate and detracts nothing…it’s an entirely apt statement to make, considering history and recent events. Tthe dress is gorgeous, but there is a poignantly sad and haunting dimension to it too. I wonder how Barack reacted when he saw her choice.

  • bassfemme

    Michelle looks radient! The dress is absolutely stunning and the perfect choice.
    Noticing that the poppies are in the exact place as the model’s dress. Could M.O. be a size 0?

  • Town

    She also picked a Tracy Reese for the 2012 Democratic Convention Speech she gave.

  • mhleta

    Poppies are a symbol of remembrance, which is so perfect for this day. Such a well thought out choice. I have one minor reservation: I sometimes wonder if a jacket would be a little more proper for such ceremonious occasions. She’s got terrific arms, but some old school part of me winces a little when she’s bare armed for especially important events such as this. Am I alone in this?

    • not_Bridget

      It’s August in DC. I think Mrs Obama looked totally appropriate.

  • Those are poppies, right? Also for remembrance…I think she’s got quite a few bases covered here.

  • JuliaInBlack

    Beautiful and I love, love the tie-in of poppies for remembrance. That is absolutely her silhouette.

  • Perfection as always. In both thought and presentation.

  • steeg of their own

    FLOTUS looks better than the model in this. We haven’t had such a fashionable first lady since Jackie wore pearls. Another home run for Mrs. O.

  • BrooklynBomber

    That is a great dress, and looks fantastic on her; I don’t always think that silhouette flatters her, but a big thumbs up on this one.

  • SM

    I love that dress. Universally flattering.

  • tereliz

    Gorgeous dress and she looks amazing in it.

    Not the first time she’s worn Tracy Reece—and knocked it out of the park (that pink brocade DNC dress? TO DIE!)—but I’m totally on board with your hypothesis that this was a deliberate and appropriate decision for the venue.

  • 909girl601world


  • Darren Nesbitt

    Did she color her hair? or has it always been that way?

    • surfergirl70

      I read somewhere that she had honey highlights put in.

    • Fordzo

      She’s been playing with her hair a lot lately!

  • bertkeeter

    LOVE the red!

  • Aurumgirl

    Just breathtaking. I long for the days when I know my mother would have said, “Let’s make that dress right now!” (cause I know it would look good on me, too)

    • Qitkat

      I sewed with my mom too. Special memories, amirite?

      • LaSylphide

        Oh yes! Did you make Mother and Daughter dresses? Maybe before your time, but they were very popular in the fifties. That’s for bringing back that happy memory of sewing (and ripping out) together.

        • Qitkat

          You know, we never did. And it’s not before my time, so I don’t know why not. But during high school home ec class, early 60’s, I made her a beautiful dress, with set-in sleeves, a hidden zipper, and other details. The teacher almost didn’t allow me to do it, as it was so complicated, but I convinced her, and it turned out so well, the teacher couldn’t believe it. I was actually taught to sew by my aunt, my mom’s sister, and she was a professional seamstress, so I was pretty darn good at a young age, if I do say so. Later, getting ready for college, mom and I made a number of things together. I loved sewing with her, as we both had similar high standards, and weren’t afraid to rip out the mistakes. Thanks for evoking the memories.

      • Aurumgirl

        Yes! Very.

    • Kate4queen

      We sewed together tto, my mum was amazing she could make anything out of the smallest cheapest out cut of fabric, -even ballet tutus with satin bodices, bling and net skirts.

      • Aurumgirl

        She sounds like she was fun. I hope you have some great memories of that.

    • Fordzo

      I had a great-grandma who could look at a dress in a catalog and then make a pattern out of newspaper and then sew it and it would be perfect. Even better than the catalog dress, because it would be made to fit. She was amazing.

      • Aurumgirl

        Those ladies certainly were amazing. I’m sure we were too young to appreciate what a luxury that was, too–bespoke!

        • Fordzo

          I remember thinking how wonderful it was that she could make ANYTHING I pointed to in the Montgomery Ward catalog, but at the same time, I remember being a little embarrassed to be wearing home sewn clothing to school. How I WISH I had those things (or that ability) now, though. I know that my mom can sew from patterns, but she refuses to. She equates it with being poor. (And, for once, I don’t mean to insult my mother.) It’s just a result of her being too poor when she was a young woman to go shopping and buy nice things. Even though her grandmother and mother could sew her things just as beautiful, she felt the stigma of not having the “right” tags in those clothes, KWIM? I think that’s why I was a little embarrassed when I was younger, too. It certainly wasn’t because I knew any different.

          There were several years when I refused to wear anything except purple corduroy, and my grandma and great-grandma are the only reason I didn’t go naked. And you haven’t experienced life until your twin obsessions of Little House on the Prairie and purple corduroy meet at your Grandma’s sewing machine and become a reality. Complete with sunbonnet. I wasn’t embarrassed to WEAR THAT IN PUBLIC EVERY CHANCE I GOT, but I was a bit shy about it being home sewn. My priorities have always been a little off.

          • Aurumgirl

            That is the best story I’ve heard all day! I love that–but I can’t imagine where you would have bought purple corduroy Laura Ingalls wear, really, so you’re right that your grandmothers would actually keep you clothed. My mother had obsessions about clothing for me, she didn’t really wait for me to come up with any of my own…so that was something, too. I was never dressed like any other kids at school because they all wore jeans…and I never did, if she could help it.

          • Fordzo

            It wasn’t just purple corduroy prairie dresses, either. It was pants, shirts, shorts for the summer, regular dresses, winter jackets, culottes, and one flower girl dress (the bride had a sense of humor and loved me enough to not care that I didn’t match the rest of her pastel rainbow bridal party. Please tell me you remember those days.)

            The only things I didn’t wear in corduroy were pajamas (purple flannel), shirts (all purple cotton), underwear – which were actually store bought and my mom dyed them purple, socks (same as underwear) and sweaters, which my other grandma knit from – you guessed it – purple wool.

            I was totally committed to purple. My mom says it actually made her life really easy – she never had to match anything.

  • pookiesmom

    Wow, she looks INCREDIBLE. Werq for sure.

  • mmebam

    “It should be noted that Tracy Reese is the most prominent and successful African American women’s wear designer currently”

    Yet I, as a black woman, have never heard of her. But I hear all about hip hop fashion lines. I’m disappointed. This dress is flawless.

  • alyce1213

    It’s a really beautiful dress — with poppies, for remembrance, just perfect.

  • formerlyAnon

    Man. She looks great. Then I stack her up against all first ladies I can remember clearly and realize she looks . . . like she’s playing in a bigger league.

  • Amy909

    oooh I did not know that Tracy Reese is African American! I’ve always loved her stuff– awesome fabrics, with classic, yet modern, silhouettes! She had some cute dresses at Anthropologie last year.

  • Paula Pertile

    Lovely. Love the hair, too. His is so grey now. Sigh.

  • Randy Noak

    She looks amazing.

  • Qitkat

    Gorgeous dress. Magnificent event. And that hand-holding gets me every time.

  • TerryMH

    The men look great as well. Was Bush not invited to that party I wonder?

    • flamingoNW

      He just had heart surgery

    • Qitkat

      He certainly was invited, but had to decline due to still recuperating from recent heart surgery (a stent placed in a blocked artery). He sent a message though.

  • Beth513

    I love this so much I’m getting all teared up. I LUV Her so much!!!

  • Cheryl

    Heavy on the symbolism, but absolutely stunning.

  • MK03

    This looks very similar to the dress she wore for Obama’s 2008 acceptance speech, doesn’t it? I bet that wasn’t coincidental either.

  • Flawless.

  • CommentsByKatie

    I bet some aristocratic British ladies will be miffed that FLOTUS wore this fabulous poppy dress before they had a chance to! It looks beautiful on her.

  • msdamselfly

    Stunning dress that suits her to a T

  • wonderdivaEtsy

    Check out Clinton’s hand placement in the first photo. Bill, ya ol’ hound.

    The dress is a stunner.

    • Fordzo

      It explains Michelle’s expression in the rest of the photos.

  • greyhoundgirl

    Very beautiful. And I am noticing the strategic placement of the poppies–none at the crotch at all–hooray!

  • Trickytrisha

    This whole shebang gets me in the feels. I won’t get all political here, but this event was amazing. Our FLOTUS is a role model for the ages, and by golly, she’s wearing the perfect dress for the occasion. Glorious.

  • Akemi

    She is absolutely stunning.

  • Passionflora

    Strikingly beautiful. That last photo is priceless.

  • Sarah Caponigro


  • andi56

    Good point about the poppies!
    What really made this dress stand out was that the weather for the commemoration here in D.C. was overcast, and alternately rainy and cloudy. They looked very elegant and proud, and it was then a beautiful day.

  • Candigirl1968

    Adorable dress, and meaningful on multiple levels.

    On a much shallower note, is TLo going to mention their thoughts on the hair color?

  • Contralto

    I need that dress.

  • Katie

    Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

  • carolie_king

    But it’s eligible for free super saver shipping. So there’s that.

  • Hildegerd Haugen

    Sorry, but this does not work for me. She is too tall and manly.

  • Danielle

    I would love a peek into her closet. She knows what works and makes it sing on her frame. Go, FLO!

  • Joan Harris with an accordion.

  • LauraAgain

    It’s a very pretty dress, and appropriate, too. I’m really glad she added the belt … on the model, the dress looks odd.

  • LauraAgain

    Strange that no Republicans were invited … especially considering MLK Jr. was a Republican.

    • Martin Luther King Jr., who argued for social justice, redistribution of wealth, and pacifism, famously claimed no party affiliation.

      Several top-ranking Republicans were invited to the event and they all declined.

      Both of these facts are easily checked and well known. Don’t bring this bullshit here.

  • “Those purses get any smaller and we’re going to starve” – Mad Men

  • Cheryl

    How wonderful it is to have a First Lady who celebrates young American designers, who clearly is fearless when it comes to fashion, and who can look elegant and approachable at the same time.

  • clairellis

    I can’t believe how stunning that dress is. Seriously, when they vacate the WH she needs to consider a career in fashion bc she is rarely not WERQing it.

  • jw_ny

    fabulous and perfect for the occasion.