Times When Michelle Obama Dressed Well

Melania Trump is a model First Lady, thus far, doing more with less budget. She also has the advantage of being a fashion leader with a model’s body, and a striking Slavic face. Of course this causes jealousy.

This is particularly noticeable because the previous First Lady, Michelle Obama — whose looks and body were not those of a model, but which were perfectly presentable — had a really difficult time with fashion. Not makeup. That was always fine. It was just clothes that she didn’t seem to understand consistently. (And that is definitely not typical for an African-American woman. Michelle’s mom always looks nice, too, so it’s very strange.)

Michelle Obama is tall and broadshouldered. Her bust is not particularly big, and her butt is as big as you’d expect from a middle-aged woman of sedentary habits. Her waist is not particularly nipped in. None of this is a crippling fashion problem, and a lot of it is an advantage, if you know how to work it. She also has really long legs, which many women would kill for. If you aren’t ashamed of your height and statuesque qualities, you work it with long lines.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Obama kept trying to dress like somebody other than herself, until quite late in the day. (Possibly it is relevant to note that her mom moved into the White House rather late in the Obama presidency.)

InStyle Magazine did a retrospective piece on Mrs. Obama’s best outfits during her husband’s presidency. Sadly, many of them are either horrible outfits (in which she is a victim of Evil Fashion Designers), or nice outfits that look horrible on the wrong person. Busy prints and busy lace were fatal for her.

But there were times when she looked quite good.

Phoenix Awards Dinner. Gold leaf on black tulle evening dress. There’s a slight pattern to appease her print-loving soul, but it provides visual interest instead of seeming busy.  The bodice is cut skillfully and well-fitted, so as to avoid the “linebacker shoulder” effect given by some of her sleeveless gowns. (#8)

Pennsylvania Conference for Women, 2017. Notice the vertical lines and the knee-length hem, which are both flattering for her. (#1)

Democratic National Convention, 2016. Royal blue dress, slightly below the knee. The belt is the same color, so as not to break up the line. Would have looked better a skosh longer, but not bad. (#10)

White House State Dinner, 2016. Versace Atelier “chainmail” evening dress in a warm and flattering rose gold. A little too drapey, but probably that’s the pose in the picture. (#4)

Ezeiza, Argentina. I’m not into the orange thing, but the dress shape worked for her.

Canadian prime minister’s visit to DC, 2016. See, she could wear suits. The trick is not buttoning the jacket/coat.

The other thing I wish she would do is to avoid outfits with waists, belts, etc. at her natural waist. She needs a waist either very high, right under her breasts and pulled in; very low, right about the level of her hips or lower; or nonexistent, to maintain the long line. Downward-pointing belts might also work.

Fashion has no absolute rules for all bodies. The trick is not to wear clothing that will look bad on you specifically, but rather to emphasize your own individual good looks.

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