Michelle Obama at the 2014 State of the Union in Azzedine Alaïa

Posted on January 29, 2014

We always feel a little weird talking about what the First Lady wore to the State of the Union address. We never mind discussing her fashion when she’s performing duties more akin to 19th Century socialites (which is really what the FLOTUS job is modeled after) like hosting parties or performing charity work. But when she’s at an important function of government, especially at such a bitterly partisan time in our country, we always want to shy away from talking about it. But people kept asking us on twitter if we were going to live-blog the address (HELL no) and when we did put out one tweet identifying the designer, we got slapped in the face with angry tweets in response. A blogguh can’t win.

But here:

First Lady Michelle Obama attends the State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. in an Azzedine Alaïa forest green dress and coat.

It’s a beautiful color on her. She likes that full-skirted silhouette for herself way more than we do, but she’s probably trying to look as traditionally feminine as possible without looking too glamorous. On that note, we think the sparkle was a bit much for this event. It’s not scandalously shiny or anything, but it’s the one aspect of the look we find ourselves wishing she’d toned down. People are trying to divine all sorts of meaning as to why she’s not wearing an American designer, but we can’t be bothered. It honestly never even registered with us until several pieces popped up pointing it out.

Bottom line: She looks good. It’s a serious look, befitting the occasion, but with just enough personality to it to make her stand out in the crowd.





[Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images]

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  • colleenjanel

    I don’t love the belt, but it’s not terrible. Hopefully she didn’t pair this outfit with those terrible above-the-knee boots that she seems to adore.

  • I think she looks lovely. As to the question about using an American designer, I think she defaults to that often enough that such criticisms have little weight.

    • Joanne Robertson

      Agreed. Plus Alaia is a totally important designer.Am I the only person who thinks of that line from Clueless every time I see someone wearing Alaia? *giggles*

      • Violina23

        An “a-what-uh?”

        (I think I answerd your question)

        And I think the dress looks lovely

        • Whitney Barkley

          And I will totally shoot you in the head!

      • MK03

        It’s a Pavlovian response for me.

      • PinkySlinky

        thank you…literally every time I hear the name

      • Erica_Vuitton

        And with Miley’s white “It’s a dress? Say’s who? Calvin Klein!” dress from a day ago it’s a good week for Clueless references.

      • fursa_saida

        He held a gun to my head and he made me ruin my dreeess!!

  • I thought she looked beautiful in that color. These screen shots show a lot more than the TV coverage and they support my instinct that she wanted something that would make her “camera ready” but not attention-pulling. She is such a classy lady. I also loved the color of Obama’s tie….that gorgeous periwinkle was PERFECT. Someone should have told Joe Biden that a tight patterned tie such as the one he was wearing does not do well on TV, though.

    I can’t believe folks thought you might be live Tweeting the speech! Hell to the no…..leave that to the boring political commentators. Although if I had been asked my opinion, I’d say the most notable aspect was Boehner visibly sulking in the background. One could practically see him weighing the pros and cons of clapping or not, standing or not, etc. My husband and I were referring to him as “Mr. Life of the Party” and cracking up at the idea, and the pun.

    • Please. This is EXACTLY what we don’t want. Leave the politics and the discussion of the address out of this comments section. Clothes only.

      • alyce1213

        In that vein, Mr Boehner’s tie was a gorgeous color green. It really was.

        • Of course it was.. oompa loompas been wearing that shade since the Gene Wilder movie. 😉 Suits perfectly!

          Ouch, did I type that out loud?

      • Alfred Cox

        Let em kno!

    • 3boysful

      Loved POTUS’ periwinkle tie as well. And it was knotted nicely. What kind of knot was that? Windsor, four-in-hand?

  • RussellH88

    I think she looks great (I seriously love this woman and I want to invite her over and cook for her). My only issue is that the skirt seems a bit to voluminous and almost jumps away from her at the hips.

    But she’s the coolest First Lady ever, so I’m not going to object too much.

  • SugarSnap108

    People are trying to divine all sorts of meaning as to why she’s not wearing an American designer

    I think people need to relax.

    This is a great color on her. Up close the sparkle is a bit much, but with a little distance, it’s fine. I don’t mind it, since the color of the dress is subdued and the shape is very traditional. It might look dowdy without that touch of pizzazz.

  • Sam Smith

    Really like the color and design details of dress. Not crazy about the belt, don’t mind the hint of sparkle.

  • tallgirl1204

    I too am puzzled about why she likes the big-skirt look so much– as a bell-shaped (more triangular-than-pear-shaped) person myself, I find that the big flare from an already not-so-relatively-small waist adds more than it detracts. It’s not about being fat or thin; it’s about distribution. However, she has a certain look she likes, and more power to her. The color is gorgeous. (On a side note, a friend of mine met the young man standing next to Ms. Obama and provided him some assistance on his visit to the Grand Canyon last year. Props to his determination in his recovery.)

  • She’s worn Alaia before, hasn’t she? So I’d suggest she’s wearing him because she likes his clothes. Or maybe because she HATES AMERICA *eyeroll*. I think she looks great in this colour but I agree that it is a little sparklier than the occasion warrants – it’s more of a Christmas dress.

    • Maya

      Yes! Holiday party is what I thought of, too!

    • marlie

      Maybe she’s recycling something from the round of holiday parties?

  • Terri Ellis

    No comment on Jill Biden looking fierce, as always, even with one arm in a sling?

    • I will like to know more about this. I did see a sling but the pics were of Mrs O, not Mrs B. 🙁 so did not really get a great look at it.

      • pattyw

        Apparently she fell last week and broke her wrist. I agree, I find her every bit as fashionable as FLOTUS.

    • Sobaika

      I love Dr. Biden! She gets overshadowed a lot (Mrs. O being such a win) but she seems like a hoot.

  • JulieTy

    Fantastic color on her (though I agree about the shape and the sparkle). And may I just say how beautiful her hands are? Everyone talks about her arms, etc. but her hands are so elegant and graceful . . .

    • Targettaste

      Thanks for pointing out her hands. You are right; they are beautiful.

      • JulieTy

        🙂 I think that is why so many people noticed the color of her nail polish last year.

    • SierraDelta

      And expressive. I don’t think we’ll ever see screaming nail art or talons, either.

      The hands of MO and Lupita should have their own Facebook pages.

  • The amount of love I have for the fashions of Mrs Obama cannot be described. I have liked or loved virtually every outfit I have ever seen her in.. I do not really recall disliking any of her outfits – I would have to think more on it and google some photos to see if there was anything I disliked.

    This is not on my list of outfits I have loved and as I say, I think this is the first time I have actively disliked an outfit on her.. 🙁 I do not like what it is doing to her hip area.

    And I feel like, this could have used one of her gorgeous brooches. Between the inspiration from her and Queen Elizabeth, I have been buying up a shizzle load of brooches these past few years..

    • Beardslee

      I wear a brooch just about every day. They are wonderful punctuation and I wish more people had the fun of wearing them.

      • marlie

        I went through a brooch phase a couple of years ago. I haven’t worn one in a while, but I have quite a few, including some that I bought new, and some that I claimed from my late grandmother. I’m sure one day I’ll suddenly have the urge to wear one again. 🙂

        • Qitkat

          I keep a vintage sparkly starfish pinned to a denim jacket, which I usually forget is on there, til I get a compliment, which is almost every time I wear it. People notice and like brooches these days. It may be that they seem to say something about the wearer’s taste even more than necklaces, earrings, or bracelets do, because they are more uncommon.

          • decormaven

            Yay for brooches! My late aunt was a jewelry fanatic, and I’ve got quite a collection, thanks to her. I also have a starfish brooch- I usually save that one for spring time.

        • Carrps

          I love brooches, and I have a pretty decent collection (heavy on dogs — specifically dachshunds), and I do think they add a nice punctuation to an outfit. Before I retired, I wore more brooches to work than necklaces because we had to wear an id badge. Necklaces just got in a tangle with it.

    • karonf

      There was a great exhibition at the Smithsonian castle a few years ago of Madeleine Albright’s collection of pins. It is traveling now and definitely worth seeing.

  • Adrianna Grężak

    I’m still convinced she’ll go down in fashion history on the same caliber as Jackie Onassis

    • Eric Stott

      I’m not sure of that- but it will take a decade or so to see if these styles still look good at all.

      • Adrianna Grężak

        I don’t think it matters whether or not her style choices will look good – this is the first First Lady since Jackie Onassis where people are really paying attention and discussing what she wore. I think it’s safe to assume that her looks are very deliberate, whether it’s an American female designer, or J Crew. She is saying something with her clothes.

        • I vaguely remember that Nancy Reagan’s clothes got quite a lot of scrutiny too – she was always very elegant but in a very different way.

          • AmeliaEve

            Nancy Reagan’s close may have been admired, but they were not emulated.

    • MilaXX

      She should.

    • colleenjanel

      I think she’s a step or two below Jackie … just on near-consistent poor belt choices alone.

      • AmeliaEve

        Jackie was only the first lady for about three years. Michelle has already been doing it twice as long.

        • colleenjanel

          Even with 8 full years, if Michelle keeps on her current track, I still wouldn’t consider her of the same caliber as Jackie. She’s got to ditch the wide belts and the above the knee boots.

        • alyce1213

          And also consider that we’re seeing via internet about 100000x more of Michelle than we did of Jackie in newspaper and magazine photos and tv. This is not to say that Jackie necessarily made fashion faux pas that we didn’t see, but it’s possible.

      • marlie

        I think what’s important about Shelly O’s style is that she takes chances and has fun with her clothes, which is far more that can be said about most First Ladies. Sure, she’s had some misses, but regardless, she wears clothes that people want to talk about.

  • Laura Renee

    Glad you posted this! I hadn’t seen it and she looks great.

    WTF, what is there to get angry about someone simply noting the designer? I mean, even if you’re angry that she didn’t choose someone else, why would you direct that at the person who just stated the designer’s name? Ugh, Twitter.

    • makeityourself

      Let’s all just be thankful that she didn’t wear a sleeveless Alaia, or some subsections of the population would have ended up in the ER last night with heart attacks or exploding heads.

  • ralish

    That color is gorgeous on her. If I were her, I’d wear it every day. And although I don’t care at all about the fact that she’s not wearing an American designer, it does seem like a very teeny political misstep. Also, she needs to ditch those gigantic belts.

  • Eileen Duffy

    She seems to favor looks that make her seem incredibly short-waisted. Not flattering at all.

    • colleenjanel

      And then she shortens her waist further with a wide belt. These dresses would look drastically different with skinny belts.

  • filmcricket

    I love the colour and the jacket. The skirt reads way too “Christmas tree” to me. Whether it’s a shiny fake tree itself or a tree skirt I’m not sure, but that’s my initial reaction and I don’t love it for that.

  • hunt3002

    I see strong allusions to a 1950s era housewife. I wonder if that’s why it was chosen.

  • carnush

    She can do no wrong in my book. Gorgeous color.

  • Eric Stott

    Jacqueline Kennedy seldom wore American designers & that never seemed to matter.

    • TeacherH

      Actually Kennedy’s critics did complain about Jackie’s un-American taste for expensive French fashions.

      • Eric Stott

        I’ll agree with that at the time, I guess the years have canonized her style choices.

  • MilaXX

    Totally agree. I think she looks great.

  • Jaeda Laurez

    I love the color. And she’s worn American designers fairly regularly, so maybe she gets to wear what she likes, second-term lol. I am not a huge fan of the bell skirt, especially in such close quarters, but I think she looks polished and pretty, and that’s really all you need to be for this.

  • GorgeousThings

    It’s a dressed up version of the cardigan and full skirt look that she wore in the first term. I’m with you on the color. I don’t mind the bling all that much, but I bet it looked less sparkly in the mirror than it does on the monitors.

  • GorgeousThings

    PS, I caught up on Downton Abbey last night rather than watch the speech but I did think, “Oh goody! The SotU address means we’ll get a Shelly O post on TLo!”

  • ovarB

    You called it on the sparkle!! This looks too “holiday party.”

  • Diego!

    I love it. That green is a-mazing! It looks beautiful on her. I approve 🙂

  • deelup

    I think she looks classy, as usual. I also love that it was very season appropriate. It’s fricking freezing right now and that full skirt, matching cardi, etc all look cozy and warm in an elegant way.

  • Sunraya

    Is she headed to the square dance, with all those ruffles or whatever they are? She looks stubby when she wears a high belt and she is not. She is a statuesque, strong woman, who should never wear the girly frills. It just doesn’t fit her. She is not Kristen Cheneworth (sp?) Straight lines, elegant details, great fabrics and patterns. Someone needs to help her.

  • MartyBellerMask

    Not loving it, but… she didn’t wear it for me. Especially since i didn’t watch the thing. So whatever.

  • AmeliaEve

    Cardigan chic.

  • Christin Pardy-Nosenchuk

    It looks like a christmas tree.

  • titaness25

    She’s a christmas tree! I adore it. Why would people twit angrily at you for pointing out the designer?

  • queeniethebold

    i think she looks really beautiful, and i honestly like the sparkle as well. The color on her is truly gorgeous.

    And she has the most beautiful hands i’ve ever seen! (Have always noticed that about her.) They are so elegant and yes, expressive.

  • marlie

    Wait… what the hell is wrong with simply identifying the designer?

    As for the dress, it’s a gorgeous color. I don’t like how high up the waist of the skirt/dress sits on her, but otherwise, this is totally her “signature” look, and mostly fine (maybe a tad too “dressy”) for the occasion.

  • Janet B

    I saw a woman wearing a sparkly red suit at the SOTU; Mrs. Obama looks demure after that.

    • Molly

      The whole row of women in red suits was much more glaring than Mrs Obama! She’s way up in the balcony, too. I think that explains the shimmer.

  • KinoEye

    Not my favorite look of hers, but it definitely suits the occasion (apart from a little too much shimmer in the dress). FLOTUS is one savvy lady when it comes to dressing for such occasions — I’ve never really seen her look anything but immaculate and appropriate.

  • TeacherH

    TLo, Thanks for doing posts on Michelle O, even though it is extra work for you given all the trolls that come out of the woodwork when you do. I find it not just fun but immensely educational, since I am more likely to face the similar issues as the FLOTUS when dressing myself than all those glamorous movie stars. Issues like: how do I look good but not too sexy? Fashionable but not like a fashion-victim? Fresh, but not age-inappropriate? Attractive but not too attention-grabbing? Professional and smart, but not boring? It is great to hear what the uncles and BKs have to say on the subject.

  • Yolanda13

    It does look like an outfit to wear to a Christmas party for the White House staff.

  • RedRaven617

    Sometimes a dress, is just a dress.

  • GinnyThePainter

    I don’t think the color or silhouette flatter her at all. I love her, though. First Ladies are traditionally miserable, and MO always seems upbeat and happy.

  • YoungSally

    The belt is back. At least on this silhouette it doesn’t appear too torso shortening.

  • Sally Spannagle

    I normally love the FLOTUS’ looks… but this just says Artificial Christmas Tree

  • Miss_Led

    So sorry you got angry tweets. The twittersphere needs a valium, seriously.
    On the subject of fashion, I, too, am not wild about the full-skirted silhouette. I think it is too old-fashioned on her. Also, why the high weird belt?

    But she looks great, anyway, the color is lovely.

  • mlle

    I think this could have been improved if she wore the cardigan over something with a straighter silhouette. I love the colour on her.

  • Fred Vaughn

    The color popped nicely on TV. That high-waisted thing’s gotta stop, though.

  • dalgirl

    I’ve never been a fan of the full-skirted silhouette either, but WOW, this color on her is beautiful.

  • Stella Zawistowski

    Color + texture + silhouette + sparkles is going very Christmas tree for me.

  • Kelly

    I don’t love it. As one of the other BKs said below, it’s got that fake Christmas tree vibe. Plus, full skirts are not MO’s friend. However, I think this outfit is very well-suited to the season, venue, and occasion. One of the many things I love about Michelle Obama is that she’s got an infallible sense of tone and is always appropriate, yet she’s always distinctive as well. This is not an easy balance to pull off, but she almost always does.

  • bertkeeter

    On TV it look like she borrowed it from her daughters closet…did not read “adult”!. ALAIA? She’s spending serious $$$.

    • pdquick

      It’s probably borrowed. And if she borrowed it from her daughter’s closet, lucky daughter.

  • Molly

    LOVE the color. She always looks stunning no matter what the outfit ’cause she’s one hell of a righteous woman.

  • Gatto Nero

    Perfect for the occasion. Tasteful, but with some oomph. And I don’t mind the modest amount of shine, since she’s being viewed for the most part on TV or from a distance. Way to stand out a bit without stealing the show.

  • Qitkat

    Oh please. Too sparkly? Artificial Christmas tree?
    The First Lady looked elegant, beautiful, and dressed up but serious enough for the occasion. The SOTU is not a funeral, or a party. It is a reflective, hopeful, declarative occasion, including humor, back-slapping, idealism, poignancy and recognition of achievements. This is a very Michelle Obama style dress, true to her aesthetic that she has been showing us all along. I cannot imagine any other First Lady wearing this. This may be one of the favorite dresses, for me, that she has ever worn.

    • andi56

      Well said, and brava!

  • throwaneyeonthis

    Glad to see she has moved on from always pairing her dresses with cardigans. The dress/cardi combo looks great on her but has gotten to look a little stale. Probably time I give it up too!

  • guest2visits

    I just don’t see the artificial tree comparisons at all. Not what I saw – very appropriate, very attractive and well suited to her and the occasion. I think it’s wonderful that she takes steps to bring the right amount of polish and style to all events. It just feels natural and un-rigid, and professional at the same time. This was another A effort.

  • LJCdoc

    I freakin love it, but then I freakin love her.

  • judybrowni

    Just enough color to distinguish her from the black/navy blue suits behind her, but not too colorful or gaudy so as to call too much attention to herself.

    I’m also not crazy about the short-waisted dresses, but perhaps that’s her figure.

  • EEKstl

    I love it, full stop. Gorgeous color on her.

  • ShaoLinKitten

    People slapped you for ID’ing the designer? Some folks need to pull their britches out of their buttcracks.

  • I don’t love the ballgown skirt, but the color is great on her.

  • cinderellen

    I wished the color was just a little brighter. She did not stand out when the camera panned to her and her guests.

  • Alfred Cox

    I wasn’t a fan of this. I thought it was too serious, boring, and a bit impractical, with the too high skirt and the matching cardigan. It was just bleh.

  • Erica_Vuitton

    I’m not a fan of this Oklahoma Musical bell skirt shape we’ve seen a few times recently (I’m looking at you Kerry Washington!). If it had been more fitted I don’t think it would’ve looked so fancy.

  • lamh36

    I think she looks great, but it’s funny, but the first thing I notice on FLOTUS (and the majority of my sistas also) is that her hair is always laid for the Gods.

    I wear my hair in a natural style, and but every time I see FLOTUS hair all bouncy and slayed, I miss my old hair just a little.

  • andi56

    Having had to attend a few of these, I’d have to say she was right on pointe with this one. Some people do get a bit fancied up for it, which is a nice change from the predictable red blazer and black skirt. This is a beautiful color on her, and frankly, the First Lady, the Fabulous Shelly O, isn’t supposed to look like everyone else at this shindig.

  • az67


  • Madeline Zappala

    one of my friends screamed “why is she wearing a passport holder” when she walked out. the kind tourists wear hanging around their neck? that is one big shiny belt

  • jjfg

    Not a fan of the skirt/silhouette, but it suits her style. Color is flat out gorgeous on her.

  • Yes, something a little more traditional would better fit the occasion. But her hair is perfect!