“Austerity Chic” rules First Lady fashion

This morning I am celebrating four more years for Barack Obama and, four more years for fashion. 

During the Obama’s first presidential term, the fashion industry lapped up every detail of Michelle Obama’s wardrobe daily. There’s even a blog dedicated to her outfits. She possesses the power to wow and woo us by embracing young designers like Jason Wu or Prabal Garung, her clever accessorizing and constant mix of high and low labels.

Michelle is a poster girl for the mantra, “you can buy fashion, you can’t buy style.” A fashion “icon” the media calls her, proving it’s not the labels alone but how you put it together.  Yadda yadda yadda. And yet there she was last night, the second biggest night of her husband’s life, in a recycled Michael Kors dress she first sported three years ago for a White House holiday party. The fashion world cooed a quiet, almost inaudible, “You go girl.”

photo courtesy Hello Magazine

And to think, people in my circles seriously worry over wearing something that’s already been seen in photos by all of their Facebook friends. Yes, really.

In fact, many of Michelle’s outfits on the campaign trail weren’t straight off the runway, but rather straight out of her closet. Her “austerity chic” choices with an emphasis on American lines like J. Crew, BDBG, Diane Von Furstenberg and even Jason Wu’s forthcoming contemporary line Miss Wu (not in stores until 2013) were a smart move, intended not to alienate voters with her fashion choices. 

While Ann Romney presented ladylike style throughout the campaign – ever elegant in labels like Reed Krakoff, Alfred Fiandaca and Oscar de la Renta – the mass-market, approachability of Michelle Obama’s choices were a stark contrast

But after last night, it’s clear that Barack Obama has another problem brewing on the horizon. His daughters, Sasha and Malia, are becoming fashionable figures in their own right. It won’t be long before the public turns their constant gaze to these two. So don’t be surprised if the sisters have to slug it out in online “who wore it best” polls before the inauguration.

photo courtesy Yahoo.com

Black is Beautiful

The United States pays tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. today, and tomorrow they will inaugurate their first African American president.  So it is no wonder that the topic of race will dominate the news media this week.  Beyond that it remains to be seen how it will feed into the cultural mainstream and media, both in America – a country whose history has been so fractured by race relations – and around the world. 


Race is a topic that’s relevant to us all, even in fashion.  The concern over black models missing from the fashion runways still goes on.  And remember the buzz created by Italian Vogue’s July 2008 all black issue?  

As Barack Obama made his way from Senator to President-Elect last year, there was (thankfully) a visible increase in blacks in the media.  As he takes the oath of office tomorrow, we hope this trend continues.  Let this be the first step in a long walk towards change.  It’s a long time coming, don’t you think?

(Above: Yasmine Warsame happens to grace the cover of Lush magazine’s Winter 2008 edition.)