Her time in The White House may be at an end (for now, at least!). But Michelle Obama’s title of the First Lady of Fashion is definitely still standing.
When Barrack Obama was elected as President in 2008, it wasn’t just his policies which came under scrutiny.
Michelle’s every move and every outfit also came under the microscope.
She conducted herself with dignity and poise, and her style reflected this, prompting many to describe her as the most stylish First Lady since Jackie O.
Michelle propelled many then little known designers into the spotlight, wearing the likes of Peter Pilotto, Jason Wu, St Erasmus and Thakoon.
But, she also had a penchant for the high street and was often seen wearing J Crew.
Michelle Obama book
One of the savviest women ever to grace The White House, Michelle says in her book “Becoming” that she knew that her choice of outfits would come under intense scrutiny.
Because she couldn’t change the fact that what she was wearing would always be of interest, she decided to “flip it on its head,” using her platform to showcase younger designers she believed needed a break. She said: “I have to wear fashion, fashion can’t wear me.”
She also talks in her book about walking a fine line between standing out and not being criticized for being “too showy”. That’s why she expertly mixed high end and high street.
So, what are the elements of Michelle’s style?
1. She likes to show off her arms and shoulders
Michelle has incredibly toned arms and shoulders, so I definitely don’t blame her for wanting to show them off.
She often chooses off-the-shoulder styles, strapless designs, sleeveless dresses and tops and pieces with cut-out designs or a one-shoulder design.
You will see with the white top below that her style has become increasingly daring.
2. She loves pant suits
Nothing gives a sense of presence more than a pant suit. She prefers a wide-legged style, and a jacket with a nipped in waist which reaches down past her hips.
After her time in The White House, Michelle has started to wear more wide-legged pants with a 70s vibe.
3. She is not afraid of color
Michelle has never been afraid of wearing bold colors. She’s been seen in beautiful teal shapes, deep jewel hues and brights such as purples, pinks, yellows and emerald.
This dress (below), combines her love of color and her signature fit and flare shape.
4. She is also not afraid of pattern
Michelle has never been a shrinking violet. She proved this time and time again with her adept way of public speaking. And, her confidence shone out in her style. She often likes to wear bold, bright floral prints.
5. But, she likes monochrome too
Michelle often teamed black with white in stylish monochrome outfits. You will see (below) that she gives a simple black and white outfit a twist, quite literally, with her draped top.
6. She likes a retro shape
While she gives all of her outfits, a modern twist, Michelle is a fan of retro-style clothes.
She frequently wears fit-and-flare dresses with a voluminous shape, and boat-neck pieces. She also loves a smart pencil skirt. And, even though she likes to show off her arms, she will also cover up with 60s-style jackets and cardigans with three-quarter sleeves.
7. She has become bolder since leaving the white house
While Michelle naturally kept her style very classy, sophisticated and relatively conventional to an extent while the First Lady, since leaving The White House, she has been experimenting with flowing fabrics and daring pieces such as thigh-high metallic boots that she wore for a sit-down with Sarah Jessica Parker.
8. Her casual style often includes jeans
It’s no secret that Michelle rocks a red carpet gown. But, she also dresses down on her days off. She likes to wear jeans with a nice top or sweater, wide-legged pants or a casual dress with sandals.
9. She likes to wear a variety of heels and flats
She loves a classic pump, but Michelle also likes to wear flat shoes. She often chooses classic ballet flats as well as sandals, and white sneakers. She’s also been seen in Converse.
Michelle Obama style
While Michelle always rocked a retro vibe in The White House, wearing 50s and 60s-style silhouettes which prompted comparisons to Jackie O, she has turned her attention to the 70s in recent months while on her book tour, wearing belted blazers and wide-legged pants which have more than a nod to the 70s.
How to get the Michelle Obama fashion look
While Michelle was often dressed formally in The White House, you can still get her look and give it a more casual feel. She was often seen wearing blouses with a pussy bow. You can wear your pussy bow blouse with a pencil or a flared skirt. Or, you could opt for a more casual feel with a pair of jeans.
Also, look for tops which show off your shoulders or arms. For a casual feel, Michelle also often wore preppy-style button-down shirts with jeans and Converse sneakers.
Michelle Obama tops
Michelle Obama sweaters and cardigans
With her sweaters, Michelle generally made a choice of two styles. Either, she would wear a sweater which showed off her shoulders or she opted for a 60’s style cardigan to wear over fit-and-flare dresses.
Michelle Obama coats and jackets
Michelle loves showing off her figure with a belted swing coat. She also keeps to the retro style of her wardrobe with peplum-style jackets. You could wear these with either skirts or jeans.
For casual days, she likes to wear a long anorak which covers her hips, along with a pair of Converse sneakers.
Michelle Obama pants
Her love of color often shines through in her choice of pants, but Michelle also likes to use neutrals and wear with a black or white top, or to offset her more colorful pieces.
She wears a variety of straight-leg, skinny and wide-legged styles. She usually keeps her skinnies for more casual days, and then wears wide-legged pants for dressed-up days.
Michelle Obama skirts
When it comes to skirts, the former First Lady tends to opt for one of two styles. Either, she chooses a ladylike pencil skirt.
Or, she opts for a flared style which shows off her slim waist. She likes to wear a bold print on her flared styles.
Michelle Obama dresses
Again, Michelle tends to opt for one of two styles when it comes to her dresses. She either loves to show of her arms and shoulders with a one-shoulder, strapless or sleeveless option.
Or, she likes to wear a retro style. She likes both the 50s look of a fit-and-flare style, but she also likes to wear a 60s-style shift dress. She teams both with a cropped cardigan when she needs extra warmth or to cover her arms.
Harper Rose floral midi dress – J Crew sheath dress – Modcloth floral fit & flare dress – Kay Ungar one-shoulder jacquard gown – Boden sheath dress – Eliza J cocktail dress – Gal Meets Glam Collection fit & flare dress
Michelle Obama shoes
Michelle wore an incredible pair of Balenciaga boots for her recent book tour, but I can’t imagine over-the-knee gold sparkly boots would be worn too many times in day-to-day life, so I’ve included a gold pair of booties instead, for this Michelle Obama wardrobe capsule, which you can wear with skirts, dresses and pants.
She is not afraid of wearing flats with dresses. Because of her height (Michelle is 5’9”), she sometimes chooses to wear flats with a variety of outfits, from pants to dresses.
When she met foreign dignitaries, who were not as blessed as she is in the height department, she often wore flats so they didn’t feel uncomfortable or self-conscious when official photographs were taken.
Michelle loves a classic pump but she also loves to wear sandals and sneakers on her days off.
Michelle Obama handbags and accessories
As befits a First Lady, Michelle is often seen wearing a double strand of pearls.
She likes to emphasize her waist with a belt. She will often wear a wide belt over a dress or a narrower belt with a pencil skirt.
She wears a classic pair of drop earrings if wearing a formal evening gown, but she also mixes up her styles of jewelry on more casual days. I’ve seen her wearing hoop earrings and more contemporary styles.
When it comes to her handbags, she usually chooses a retro style with a contemporary twist.
Rebecca Minkoff leather satchel – Fratelli gloves – Nina swarovski teardrop earrings – Ellie Vail mini hoop earrings – 8 Other Reasons drop earrings – Cristabelle crystal collar necklace – Hook + Albert lapel flower brooch – Madewell leather belt – Madewell rainbow belt – Rebecca Minkoff metallic leather belt
9 Michelle Obama outfits using the pieces above
Here are 9 outfits for you using the pieces above. But there are plenty of different ways you could mix and match all of these pieces.
Read our ultimate guide to creating a capsule wardrobe that works best for you.
Want more inspiration from other style icons for your style?
Be inspired by:
Are you inspired by Michelle Obama’s style? What do you like most about her style?
Feature image shot by Miller Mobley
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