Michelle Obama has revealed how she paid for all her outfits while serving as the first lady of the United States.
There are a number of notable things about the time Michelle Obama served in the White House – one which got her admiration from all and sundry was her matchless dressing.
Michelle has now provided an insight into how she managed to keep her White House style so impeccable in her memoir, Becoming.
Sharing an excerpt from the bestseller with Elle, the 55-year-old revealed her brilliant style strategy which practically had fashionistas drooling over across the globe.
The mother-of-two said she had soon realized that people focused more on what she wore as compared to what she had to say.
Michelle revealed how her dressing used to “trigger a slew of opinions and instant feedback” right from the time of Obama’s first campaign.
She recalled in her memoir: “In London, I’d stepped offstage after having been moved to tears while speaking to the girls at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School, only to learn that the first question directed to one of my staffers by a reporter had been ‘Who made her dress?'”
The former first lady said she was really upset at this behavior but she tried to “re-frame it as an opportunity to learn, to use what power I could find inside a situation I’d never have chosen for myself.”
She hoped when people flip through a magazine to admire what she was wearing, they would also notice what she had to say about important matters like children’s health.
Michelle said about her styling strategy: “I paid for all my own clothes and accessories—with the exception of some items like the couture-level gowns I wore to formal events, which were lent to me by the designers and would later be donated to the National Archives, thus adhering to White House ethics guidelines.
“When it came to my choices, I tried to be somewhat unpredictable, to prevent anyone from ascribing any sort of message to what I wore. It was a thin line to walk.
“I was supposed to stand out without overshadowing others, to blend in but not fade away.”
She continued: “As a black woman, too, I knew I’d be criticized if I was perceived as being showy and high-end, and I’d also be criticized if I was too casual.
“So I mixed it up. I’d match a Michael Kors skirt with a T-shirt from Gap. I wore something from Target one day and Diane von Furstenberg the next.
“I wanted to draw attention to and celebrate American designers, especially those who were less established, even if it sometimes frustrated the old guard, including Oscar de la Renta, who was reportedly displeased that I wasn’t wearing his creations.
“For me, my choices were simply a way to use my curious relationship with the public gaze to boost a diverse set of up-and-comers.”
The former first lady credited her outfit strategy to Meredith Koop, her trusty stylist who was behind a number of Michelle’s iconic fashion moments during her time in the White House.
She recalled how she met Koop – a young sales associate at a boutique in Chicago – for the first time during a campaign for her husband.
After Obama was elected, Michelle asked Koop to join her in White House as a stylist and personal aide.
Recalling how she carefully picked her outfits with Koop’s assistance, Michelle said: “In my dressing room, I’d put on a new dress and then squat, lunge, and pinwheel my arms, just to be sure I could move. Anything too restrictive, I put back on the rack.
“When I traveled, I brought backup outfits, anticipating shifts in weather and schedule, not to mention nightmare scenarios involving spilled wine or broken zippers.
“I learned, too, that it was important to always, no matter what, pack a dress suitable for a funeral, because Barack sometimes got called with little notice to be there as soldiers, senators, and world leaders were laid to rest.”
Besides Koop, the best-selling author also credited her makeup artist Carl Ray and hairdresser Johnny Wright for giving her the confidence to face the public without being afraid of criticism over her appearance.
“Today, virtually every woman in public life—politicians, celebrities, you name it—has some version of Meredith, Johnny, and Carl. It’s all but a requirement, a built-in fee for our societal double standard,” Michelle said.
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