Michelle Obama’s Fashion: On Message

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Eric Thayer / Reuters

Obama arrives on stage in a pink and gold toile Tracy Reese dress before addressing the first session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 4, 2012.

Throughout Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, Democrats have framed the contest as a choice between a wealthy businessman who would fight for the 1%, and an incumbent president who cares about the middle class. At the Democratic convention in Charlotte, this theme is so pervasive that even Michelle Obama’s fashion is on-message.

The First Lady walked on stage Tuesday night in $245 pumps available at mass retailer J.Crew and a pink shift with a refined jacquard pattern designed by Tracy Reese. The outfit wasn’t flashy, nor was it out of reach for the average consumer: a similar frock retails for $448 before sale. But it was striking nonetheless and showed off Obama’s notoriously-toned arms.

“I was extremely moved by Mrs. Obama’s speech last night and was so proud to have the opportunity to dress her for such a memorable occasion,” Reese told TIME by e-mail. “She looked beautiful, and it was wonderful to hear her speak sincerely from her heart.”

(PHOTOS: Michelle Obama’s Defining Fashion Moments)

The understated dress, which seemed to embody the down-to-earth, blue collar message that Obama delivered in her speech, stood in stark contrast to the bright red number that Ann Romney wore one week earlier during her speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. That dress, with an estimated cost of $2,000, was made by high-fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, the same designer who made both Laura Bush’s and Cindy McCain’s outfits at the 2008 convention. De la Renta is also one of the few couturiers who have openly criticized Michelle Obama’s fashion choices. In 2009, de la Renta told fashion trade publication Women’s Wear Daily, “You don’t…go to Buckingham Palace in a sweater”—in reference to the black cardigan Obama wore to meet Queen Elizabeth II—and in 2011, he blasted the First Lady for choosing a European designer (Alexander McQueen) for an official State Dinner with China.

The First Lady, a fashion industry darling known for promoting young designers such as Jason Wu and Prabal Gurung, has yet to wear de la Renta. And if her husband’s campaign message remains the same, it’s safe to say she won’t—at least until after Nov. 6.

28 comments
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Christina Roberts
Christina Roberts

Ya, nice dress, but $ 698 for a dress and shoes is NOT in reach for the average American consumer.  What a stupid thing to say.

Terry Clifton
Terry Clifton

Her pumps and dress cost more than my whole closet full of clothes.. It's back to the thrift store I go..

sacredh
sacredh

Did Ann's Oscar de la Renta dress and shoes cost more than your car?

Trudy Buck
Trudy Buck

Mrs. Michelle Obama!!!  The FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!! 

MICHELLE YOU ROCKED!!  WOW!

chupkar
chupkar

Yeah. Pretty sure she won't even after Nov. 6. Or ever. De La Renta is a stuck up old geezer.

chrystal026
chrystal026

Tax Money bought your Dress,and Tax Money Feeds 49 Million Lazy People!When will your President stop wasting Tax Money????

FeralFemme
FeralFemme

Michelle is AWESOME.

If you want to know how much Mormons respect women, google Banking On Heaven 

emenot
emenot

She didn't wear it meant it is in the White Huse closet, bought and paid for to take with her when she move out in a few more months...

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

Taxpayers don't pay for clothes.

Most of us probably think the Obamas live a lavish life on the taxpayers’ dime, but, according to Kantor, finances are tight in the White House. While rent is free, just about nothing else is. The president and first lady pay for their food, parties, vacations, butlers, housekeepers, ushers… and at Ritz Carleton prices. If they want to bring someone on Air Force One who isn’t in the official traveling delegation, they have to reimburse the American people the equivalent of first-class airfare for the flight.

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chupkar
chupkar

YOu can trot out every fact you want for these cretins but they will believe what they choose. And notice don't really care Romney wears $2000 dresses. I"m sure Mitt's suits are astronomical. It's so infuriating.

sacredh
sacredh

My suits come off of the rack, unless I find them in a dumpster.

Sue_N.
Sue_N.

Nothing on what the men wore? Hmm …

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

We're colorless.

For the most part.

sacredh
sacredh

My wife picks out my clothes when we go out. Something about not wearing tennis shoes with a suit and making sure the socks are the same color.

John Shaw
John Shaw

I was trying to watch America's Got Talent and they hi-jacked the channel to play this Planet of the Apes crap...it was more like America's Got No Talent!

sacredh
sacredh

Attired in a stained wife-beater t-shirt dotted with pizza sauce and wearing boxers with a Gucci stripe in the back, swampland poster John Shaw wowed the crowd with his fashion choices.

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

 Post a picture of yourself and we'll do a comparison.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 And still it was a step up from watching the Zombie Apocalypse in Tampa. The only nice thing about the average Republican voter is that old age and diabetes will soon keep them from ever voting again.

nana4gj
nana4gj

I suppose you could have just turned the tube off and gone to have a few beers, belch, and scratch your belly with some like minded buddies which would have been time better spent for you.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Wha...?

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

 I wonder if comparing the First Lady to an ape is considered racist enough for the High Sheriffs to intervene...I'm betting on not.

Troy Fuhriman
Troy Fuhriman

Seriously?  Dress selections getting space here?  The never-ending Obama worship is a little hard to swallow in the Swamp these days.  I expect a tilt to the left but this is just silly.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

People actually care about what people wear.  Heck, why else would anyone care about what uniforms Oregon will have on this week?

Terry Clifton
Terry Clifton

I would prefer to watch the Ducks, or any other college team over politics any day. 

ERenger
ERenger

We will have to wait for an official ruling from Joan Rivers on Fashion Police. 

Gotta have it? Or make it stop?