Being the first Black woman in the White House is certainly a big responsibility. Former First Lady Michelle Obama found herself in that position, and it meant that everything she did was heavily scrutinized. And, unlike her white counterparts, she experienced immense criticism about absolutely anything! From every word she said, to every dress she wore, she was constantly being watched and analyzed.
She revealed for Elle Magazine just how she handled the scrutiny about her outfit and how she engineered her White House style strategy. Interestingly enough, she also shared how everything she wore was paid for out of her own pocket.
She wrote that she paid for all of her own clothes and accessories, with the exception of some items, like the couture-level gowns she wore to formal events, which were lent to her by the designers and would later be donated to the National Archives.
She also wanted to bring attention to lesser-known designers who didn’t always found themselves on the spotlight. So, knowing that she always had millions of eyes on her, she used her platform to uplift these designers and give them the credit and recognition they deserved.
She explained that she wanted to draw attention to and celebrate American designers, especially ones that were less established, even if it sometimes frustrated the old guard, including Oscar de la Renta.
Her choices were simply a way to use her curious relationship with the public gaze and boost a diverse set of up-and-comers, she writes. She also didn’t want to be known for a high-fashion, high-budget outfit because that’s simply not who she is. Instead, she made sure to diversify her selection of outfits in a way that reflected her own beliefs and style.
Also, as a black woman, she knew she’d be criticized if she was perceived as being showy and high-end, and she’d also be criticized if she was too casual. So, she mixed it up a bit, and she’d match a Michael Kors skirt with a T-shirt from Gap. She writes that she wore something from Target one day, and Diane von Furstenberg the other.
And while Michelle Obama will always be remembered for her groundbreaking initiatives, she will also be immortalized as a pinnacle of style during her time in the White House.