Michelle Obama FLOTUS Style Retrospective: The Dresses, Part One

Posted on January 19, 2017

Time to say goodbye.

It took us much longer than we thought it would to compile this series of posts. Rather than do a retrospective of everything Michelle Obama wore for the past 8 years, we opted to stick to just those looks that we covered over that span, on this blog and on our previous one (hence the wildly different picture sizes as you scroll through). The results were surprisingly emotional for us, not just because we’re sorry to see the Obamas go, but because, in reviewing the over 100 posts we wrote about her style choices, it was hard not to peg them to various points in our own lives over that same period. We remembered every single outfit and we remembered almost exactly what we wrote about each one. In our ten years of blogging, no single person was the subject of that many style posts.

We’ve already written assessments of each of these looks. There’s no need to rehash them here. That’s not the point. While you can see the evolution of her style over time, and the mistakes she made early on that seemed to evaporate over time as she learned the ropes, our goal here is only to look back and take a broader view. Michelle Obama was hugely important as a cultural, historical and social figure in her time as First Lady and she quite smartly realized early on that fashion was going to be one of the most important tools in her messaging arsenal. She did something very few modern First Ladies even thought to attempt: she made  high-impact looks her primary style goal. It’s clear in the early years of her time as FLOTUS that she was taking some cues from Jackie Kennedy, in that she preferred simple, mid-Century style sheath dresses that tended to evoke the former First Lady’s signature look. But over time, she became more and more adventurous (and that’s after she started out pretty adventurous for a politician’s wife), choosing bolder and bolder looks with a much more “high fashion” feel than one normally expected to see coming out of the White House. The results were dazzling, even if they weren’t always flawless.

Of course her gowns were rightly celebrated (and will be further lauded in a post later today, along with one on her outerwear), but for us, she was always at her best in day dresses and separates. What struck us most, looking over this collection of pictures from the last 8 years, is just how hard she worked in her job. Gowns and coats are for standing and waving, but Michelle Obama spent eight years talking to kids, reading to kids, hugging military families, giving speeches, making talk show appearances, advocating for her causes, decorating Christmas trees, going to graduations, meeting world leaders, rolling Easter eggs, boarding planes, handing out awards and receiving them – all in an array of stunningly bold and stylish dresses and separates.

These were her work clothes.


November, 2008, Narciso Rodriguez


February 2009, Michael Kors


May 2009, Isaac Mizrahi


June 2009, Michael Kors/Narciso Rodriguez/Givenchy


December 2009, Calvin Klein


February 2010, Moschino


May 2010, Thakoon


May 2010, Narciso Rodriguez


June 2010, Michael Kors


July 2010, Peter Som


August 2010, Duro Olowu


August 2010, Jason Wu


October 2010, Jason Wu


December 2010, Marc Jacobs


December 2010, Moschino


January 2011, Rachel Roy


February 2011, H&M


March 2011, Jason Wu


March 2011, Lanvin


March 2011, Marc Jacobs


March 2011, Peter Som


March 2011, Sophie Theallet


May 2011, Barbara Tfank


April 2011, Tracey Reese


April 2011, Jonathan Saunders


May 2011, Naeem Khan


May 2011, Ports 1961


July 2011, Sophie Theallet


September 2011, Chris Benz


December 2011, Rodarte


[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

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