She went to Princeton. And Harvard. She's interested in bringing attention to military families. But everyone wants to talk about Michelle Obama's clothes. Are you sick of it?
Today's New York Times has an exhaustive story about just how the First Lady decides what to wear. You're not going to believe this: She has a favorite store, and she shops there. Groundbreaking stuff. No, seriously: Usually women in her position get stuff directly from designers, and there's a mutual fawning over. But, according to the piece, for the inauguration:
Oscar de la Renta sent 12 sketches, but "never heard another word" from [store owner] Ms. Goldman or Mrs. Obama's office, he said. A spokeswoman for Carolina Herrera said sketches were sent. While nothing was ordered by Mrs. Obama, a gown was made for Desirée Rogers, the new White House social secretary, and purchased through [Ms. Obama's fave store] Ikram. Many other prominent American designers, including Michael Kors, Ralph Rucci, Vera Wang and Francisco Costa at Calvin Klein, were never approached, they said. To the older generation of design stars, the idea that a first lady would rely so heavily on a retailer - rather than on designers or an independent stylist, people who make their living solving problems of fit and proportion - is surprising.
But while some may find the interest in her wardrobe frivolous or beside the point, Jeanne McManus writes — unapologetically — in the Washington Post:
I enjoy reading about Michelle Obama's clothes. I like to know what she's wearing, appreciate details about her shoes and gloves, wonder where she got her necklace. When she shows up at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, I'm not distracted from her message by being simultaneously informed that she is in a slate-gray suit. Is it right about here that other women start throwing shoes at me?
McManus argues that since the First Lady is smart and stylish, we should acknowledge both of these things about her. McManus explains:
The clothes she wears are a means of self-expression. So why can't we appreciate that particular form of her expression as well as her many others? To dissect the components of that style and to admire it, I believe, is profoundly different from talking about Carrie Bradshaw's belt or flipping through glossy pictures of Scarlett Johansson on the red carpet.
The first lady is a composite; she is not getting attention solely for her clothes. To give Michelle Obama her due, can't we acknowledge that by mentioning her speech and, in the same breath, noting the smart white collar and cuffs on the outfit she wore to the Education Department?
Does McManus have a point? Isn't how a working woman pulls herself together part of her total package? Weigh in using the poll below: