Mrs. Obama’s accessories during the first inauguration were very minimalist, consisting of a stack of diamond bangles, slim dangling earrings, and a statement cocktail ring. Over the past four years, her taste for accessories has evolved along with her clothing choices to the point of being visually arresting on ocassion. Might she go bold for her second turn at the inaugural fetes?
“I do believe she probably will go in that direction,” White said. “I think it will pair well with the idea of a dress that is more womanly and stately. She would want to balance that with some very strong accessories. Before she was so strongly in the spotlight, when she was campaigning for the president, or her husband at the time, she did tend to favor bold accessories even then.”
Monica Barnett, celebrity stylist and CEO of the D.C.-based fashion consultancy, Blueprint for Style, thinks this inauguration will be an opportunity for first lady Michelle Obama to go bold as well. But it might be in the shoe department.
“If you look at their ball schedule, it’s been significantly reigned in as a result of the state of the economy,” Barnett told theGrio. “There are two official balls. Everybody is reigning it in. To that effect, my immediate gut reaction told me we are going to see her in shoes that are not her typical flat or low heel, because she does not have 10 balls to cover. She’s not running around from place to place.”
Another change might include moving away from fitted, sleeveless bodices that showcase the first lady’s toned upper body, and perhaps choosing a vintage piece of classic couture, instead of a new ensemble. Wearing a garment from a fashion house’s archive would match the tone of this year’s inaugural, at which the atmosphere of cost-cutting is pervasive.
“Her upper body and her arms are touted quite a bit,” Barnett noted. “That said, if she does choose to go more vintage I don’t think we’ll see off-the-arm quite as much. If I take a look at the trends she has worn over the last three to six months, what I have seen is her going slightly more conservative.”
And what about the president?
“He’ll be classic, he’ll be conservative, and I think they both will wear American,” Barnett said. “That’s going to be a very important part of their choice.”
Recently, pundits have questioned the amount of attention paid to first lady Michelle Obama’s appearance, and whether this fascination detracts from the substance of her work. For instance, her new hairstyle made bigger headlines than the community-based initiative at which her bangs made their debut. The first lady was meeting a citizen co-chair of the inaguration, a program that exemplifies the Obama administration’s desire to make his presidency more equitable and accessible. Yet, this act of openess was overshadowed by Mrs. Obama’s new hairdo.
This proves Michelle Obama has the power through her clothing to make a statement, even if that statement is not always under her control. Might she use her 2013 inagural gown to announce a new direction? Or will she continue to use her fashion sense to represent the administration symbolically as fresh and innovative through her stream of intriguing changes — like bangs?
“I believe she will continue,” White said of Mrs. Obama’s current fashion messaging. “Her preferred approach has been to make her style statement, which is great, but to try to make sure that the focus is on what she’s doing. I think if she took a dramatic turn or direction, it would go against what she has been trying to do for the last four years. It would call too much attention for her comfort to what she’s wearing versus what she’s doing.”
Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on theGrio at @lexisb.
This article was updated to correct the age of Jason Wu.