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Sparkle! The sartorial flag waved around the world.
January 20, 2009 2:10 PM   Subscribe

The undeniable 'bling' of the First Lady Michelle Obama's sparkly yellow dress underlines that she is full of surprises. Shades of yellow have symbolized renewal and hope since Elizabethan times, and besides, the shade really popped on Michelle Obama. Oh, it's also a "sartorial flag waved around the world", so it had to be a good 'un. Jackie O. references abound, what with the sheath dress styling. Keep your eye on Cuban-American designer Isabel Toledo. If you're into that sort of thing.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (70 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
They're loving it to pieces over at Jezebel. But this Project Runway fan much preferred the "terrorist fist jab" dress.

This seems dowdy by comparison. As if, having assumed the mantle of First Lady, she has to start dulling herself down as quickly as possible.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:20 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Michelle Obama is, in fact, full of surprises. I'm looking forward to the one where everyone discovers that in addition to looking fabulous in designer clothes (when she chooses to wear them instead of practical casual wear) that she is crazy smart, and we totally got a two for one deal on this election.

That said, I see nothing wrong with someone as cool as her bringing some style back to the Whitehouse.
posted by quin at 2:25 PM on January 20, 2009 [9 favorites]


Eh. She's fly and all, but it was still a little too grandma doily to me. And then the olivey gloves just kind of made it worse. But as a kid my mom would always seem to give me pea soup when I got sick, so maybe I'm just traumatized.
posted by cashman at 2:25 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the first link:
Her ensemble, by one of her favourite designers, Isabel Toledo, was a strong, modern statement, which was in marked contrast to the classic, conservative, tailored, high-necked skirt-suit in a pale delphinium blue chosen by the outgoing First Lady, Barbara Bush.

o_0
The Clintons indeed.
posted by ruelle at 2:28 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Michelle Obama is, in fact, full of surprises. I'm looking forward to the one where everyone discovers that in addition to looking fabulous in designer clothes (when she chooses to wear them instead of practical casual wear) that she is crazy smart, and we totally got a two for one deal on this election.

Meh, I didn't vote for a two for one deal.
posted by gyc at 2:29 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


And the Bushes was a 0 for 2. Laura Bush looks and acts like a creepy Stepford-Wife.
posted by amuseDetachment at 2:29 PM on January 20, 2009


but the gloves looked like alien skin.
posted by desjardins at 2:30 PM on January 20, 2009


Her ensemble was nice but I prefer the Gettysburg A Dress.
posted by ...possums at 2:31 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


The undeniable 'bling' of the First Lady Michelle Obama's sparkly yellow dress.

I have noticed that Michelle Obama always looks good, but I deny that "bling" is involved.
posted by rokusan at 2:31 PM on January 20, 2009 [7 favorites]


What's really funny is I saw this being written about on Free Republic, and all of a sudden, the commenters there are FASHION EXPERTS! It's like Tim Gunn, Nina Garcia and the Regans had a drunken 4-way and a brood of argumentative, contrary, three-year-olds were he result of that tragic evening.

What I'm trying to say is: surprise, surprise, people's politics are largely dictating how they see her sense of style.
posted by piratebowling at 2:33 PM on January 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


but the gloves looked like alien skin.

Obama's wedding ring doesn't lack pizzazz either.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:33 PM on January 20, 2009


I have noticed that Michelle Obama always looks good, but I deny that "bling" is involved.

My God, thank you.

While we're at it, HEY MEDIA: she's not Barack's "Baby Mama," she will not be pimping anything out if/when she redecorates, there's no need to call her bootylicious or point out that "she's got back."
posted by piratebowling at 2:37 PM on January 20, 2009 [29 favorites]


True dat!
posted by mike_bling at 2:43 PM on January 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thank you rokusan. "Bling" is not a word that ever need be uttered again, esp. with respect to Mrs. O.
posted by Mister_A at 2:43 PM on January 20, 2009


It looks more "Coronation" than "Inauguration" to me, but it hit the right notes. The radiant, yellow of a Bold New Day Of ..Newness combined with the almost antique-styling (Fuck you Steampunk, I'm goin' 15th century on your ass) and the dramatic white on yellow cape covered in tiny little pearls. Just Modern enough, Just shocking enough, and just enough so she stood out like a glittery sunbeam surrounded by black, blue, and red.

My only doubt was the neckline under the "cape" (Side note, loved the diamond clasp. The whole thing *suggested* glittery shiny jewels without being in your face about it. Nice trick) I know it was Fucking Cold, but a slightly lower, slightly more scooping newline might have given it a neat touch.

Then again, it also might make her look like a superhero. That would be weird.

No wait, scratch that, that would be awesome.


The green shoes and gloves are ..odd. But I can;t think any color that WOULD go with the outfit without it being matchy-me-barbie lookin'. White, maybe. But that's musty. oh god I'm such a cliche' someone shoot me Tim Gunn is crap tho, his advice is bog standard and he's not no imagination ... oh god there I go again. I need help.
posted by The Whelk at 2:47 PM on January 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Apologies for saying 'bling', I put my foot wrong there.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 2:54 PM on January 20, 2009


I know it was Fucking Cold...

There's the catch, isn't it. Hard to be fabulous at that temperature.

Still, there are ways to keep warm, look smashing, and really surprise them...
posted by Joe Beese at 2:57 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


How many hours until the inauguration is over?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:03 PM on January 20, 2009


That's a really unattractive outfit. Sorry.

She has no waist, no bust, it just looks frumpy. Barack's not doing very well either- blue coat, white shirt, red tie, hard to get much more pedestrian- he looks just like Bush actually.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:03 PM on January 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


And from somewhere in Alaska comes the anguished cry of a wannabe clotheshorse...
posted by GrammarMoses at 3:07 PM on January 20, 2009 [14 favorites]


I kind of didn't like the outfit at first but it grew on me. I like the color. But then again I adored the "hell-colored" election-night dress too, so what do I know?

I really do love the way the Obamas dress. They look like the kind of grownups I want to be (someday.) Sophisticated, charming, appropriate, youthful, never fussy. They make me want to stand up straight and smile and make eye contact.
posted by Neofelis at 3:08 PM on January 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


My only doubt was how warm it was. A little pashmina lining in the upper part of the coat and the back of the sleeves doesn't scream "toasty warm" to me. I swear I saw her shivering on the steps. What's wrong with wearing some suede boots and a long wool skirt with a sweater? Oh right. It wouldn't be "inaugural" enough. This is why I'm neither the President's wife nor the Queen of England.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:21 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have to admit I am a shameless fangirl of this woman and have been ever since she declared she wouldn't wear makeup on the campaign trail.

I thought she looked gorgeous. But then, I always think she looks gorgeous-- I even loved the universally panned black and red dress. And I am a big fan of the olive shoes and gloves, took it to an edgier place than being fully matchy-matchy.

And lest we get too wrapped up in the physical, I think it's awesome that she is devoting time to working with military families.
posted by Monsters at 3:22 PM on January 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Michelle is a smart woman, and her outfits show that she has her feet on the ground. I think she looks good, but in an inclusive rather than exclusive way. I believe she wants the average woman to relate to her rather than idolize her. Keep in mind it was extremely cold, so she likely had layers of clothing underneath, including a bulletproof vest for that walk outside the motorcade.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:44 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm with Monsters. The green shoes and gloves are FASHION.
posted by queensissy at 3:47 PM on January 20, 2009


The needle on the "Who Cares" meter has now gone to red with this post.

And traditional clothing (on men) is supposed to look like that. If you think it's "pedestrian" then you're not really grasping the whole style versus fashion thing.
posted by Zambrano at 4:38 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


My brother was excited about the Isabel Toledo choice, since his shop in Geneva is currently the only place outside the U.S. that's licensed to sell her clothes.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 4:49 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


All of the flat chested and amble-bottomed women I know are excited that someone with their figure is now a fashion icon. And drjimmy11, say what you will about Barack's suites, but you can't deny they look like they are painted on him. I wish I had just one suit that fit as well as any of his.
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 4:56 PM on January 20, 2009


I'm with Monsters. The green shoes and gloves are FASHION.

No, they are FASHION! keep your memes straight.

I'll admit that I was waiting for something with a bit more "pop." I'm a total whore for bright and saturated colours, so "maize" or "lemongrass" or whatever you call that thing didn't do it for me. Nor did the lace-y texture. But the overall cut was really nice, methinks.
posted by LMGM at 5:18 PM on January 20, 2009


I love the fact that she'll wear some new designer but dress it down with J.Crew gloves. Something about that is pretty awesome.
posted by cazoo at 5:29 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Grandma Bjork!
posted by cashman at 5:31 PM on January 20, 2009


Well, I thought it was purty. And I'm more excited than I should be about seeing her gown for tonite. WAIT. THERE IT IS ON CNN!
posted by Miastar at 5:33 PM on January 20, 2009


And here's inaugural ball gown. I can't tell if it's white or pale yellow.
posted by saffry at 5:33 PM on January 20, 2009


This is fantastic.
posted by cashman at 5:35 PM on January 20, 2009


GOD DAMN YOU CNN. Back to the dancing and fashion please. Enough with the talking heads.
posted by Miastar at 5:36 PM on January 20, 2009


It's on ABC.
posted by cashman at 5:39 PM on January 20, 2009


I never liked Beyonce, but that dance was just about the sweetest thing I've ever seen.

"First thing - how good looking is my wife?" Classic.
posted by yhbc at 5:41 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed reading the New Yorker article on Isabel Toledo and her husband Ruben. If you don't mind the detour.
posted by Jubal Kessler at 5:51 PM on January 20, 2009


Is it just me, or that dress like something out of a 60s sci-fi movie? All it's missing is a flowing yellow cape. It's like something Lando Calrissian's grandmother would wear.
posted by zardoz at 5:54 PM on January 20, 2009


Just seeing glimpses because none of the networks is showing the ball live on the West Coast (boo). This dress is not what I was expecting, I thought she would so a jewel tone and something less fussy. The designer is apparently Jason Wu per CNN.
posted by Miastar at 6:01 PM on January 20, 2009


She has no waist, no bust, it just looks frumpy.

Ooh! Ooh! Break out the trash cans and 360-degree mirrors! It's What Not to Wear: First Lady Edition!

Unbreakable rules of First Lady fashion:
1. You want to wear an A-line skirt with a seizure-inducing print.
2. You want to wear painfully uncomfortable pointed-toe high-heeled shoes.
3. You want to spend $5000 on three outfits and replace them every three months.
4. You want to respect and obey strangers who grope and ridicule you.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:05 PM on January 20, 2009


Laura Bush looks and acts like a creepy Stepford-Wife.

In Republican circles, that's not a criticism.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:11 PM on January 20, 2009


I like Michelle Obama a lot, but she looked like Glenda the Good Witch today.

However, it wasn't nearly as bad as the "Is She Pregnant?" red-and-black dress on election night.

It's amazing how good she can look every other day. Perhaps she just needs a better editor for the major appearances.

Actually, she's not best in a dress, though she looked great on The View.

Now let us never speak of the first lady's fashion ever again... heh.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:24 PM on January 20, 2009


I loved her outfit, that color would make me look like I'm dying of malaria on me but on her it was just lovely. Major props to Hilary's cobalt blue coat too.
posted by Ruby Stevens at 6:26 PM on January 20, 2009


I think I'd rather have Palin threads than Michelle threads threads. At least the former is based on the substance. Insane substance, but substance for all that.
posted by DU at 7:06 PM on January 20, 2009


I'll discuss the attire of a woman at an inauguration when she is inaugurated.

Actually not then either.
posted by vapidave at 7:09 PM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Michelle looked indisputably awesome, case closed. The coat-dress ensemble gave a nod to traditional DC dowdiness and the solemnity of the event. But the sparkles expressed the exuberance and sense of rebirth all two million of us there on the mall were feeling. The yellow was divine and meaningful -- you need a dark skin tone look good in all-over yellow; first ladies are no longer pastily stuck in blue! And lastly, the pea-green shoes and gloves were a bold, personal choice, a little unusual, definitely not safe, and signaling that above all this lady is going to, in the end, wear what she wants.

And what about Sasha's adorable pink and orange??
posted by footnote at 7:12 PM on January 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ok, we've all heard a lot about how "glamorous" and "elegant" Michelle Obama is.

While that may be nice and all, I think there's a lot not being said that could be. I mean, can't we get past that? Can't we see past that?

And see that Jill Biden is also a complete and total MILF?
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 7:16 PM on January 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Spent the last 16 hours in an emergency ward taking care of a friend who is coming along fine now. Walking home part way I stopped in a grocery store to listen to the inauguration news and was invited in by the baker to get close the the boombox in back. A number of employees and myself stood around the radio listening. Tears ran down my face with joy, gratitude, relief, awe, enjoyment, exhilaration. It was spiritually moving. NYC glowed. There was a sense of camaraderie, hope, jubilation. Heartening is a good word for how it felt.

That said, my first look at Michelle's dress and I wished it suited her better, was more flattering to her figure, seemed more natural on her like the wonderful dress on the View that mrgrimm linked. It seemed off somehow, same as the olive gloves. At first glance it looked like an Imperial Yellow, reserved for royalty the way purple once was.

Sasha and Malia looked fabulous, chic. Simple, classic color contrasts, cobalt/black, pink/coral.

But then I looked at all the other cookie cutter political outfits, the solid color fitted jackets, very corporate business woman and yet somehow like fearful uniforms, lacking creativity. Childlike simplicity but a bit scary.

And on CoolHunter Imperial Yellow is really quite happening. The more I looked at photographs of Obama with Michelle, the more it looks like they are authentically in love with each other and the more I felt excited that she did something creative, original, not cookie cutter at all in her dress choice. In the end she just seems even more beautiful in that springtime yellow, joyously extragavant.
posted by nickyskye at 7:56 PM on January 20, 2009


Fashion is feminist. At least when Michelle does it.
posted by lunit at 8:25 PM on January 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sasha and Malia looked perfect. I'm so hoping that their always age appropriate 'style' will end the current "hooker chic" trend for pre-pubescent girls. Children should be dressed as children. They are lovely girls.
posted by pearlybob at 8:37 PM on January 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Loved the green gloves and shoes SO much.
She and Jill Biden both looked really cold, though - possibly because it was really, really freaking cold out there. I was wearing about a million layers and still shivered through the whole thing. The news said that a bunch of people (including some of the band kids in the parade) had to be hospitalized for hypothermia.
posted by naoko at 8:39 PM on January 20, 2009


From the third link: "We're all wearing that dress with her. "
Shades of... blue.
posted by monospace at 8:58 PM on January 20, 2009


I'm sorry, is the dress going to fix the economy or solve the crisis in the middle east? Perhaps the clothing is going to increase the money supply, make Thanksgiving dinner with yummy pie, alleviate racism, and rebuild the levees with an extra-special lo-cal candy-coating.

As long as we're talking about this I'd like to present Amy Carter with pussy.
posted by vapidave at 9:18 PM on January 20, 2009


I know we've already covered this, but I find the use of the word 'bling' in this context just so over-the-top disrespectful, ignorant, and yes - yes! - racist that I can barely stop myself from strangling the people who say it.

This is the sort of casual, institutional racism that white folks are forever trying to deny the existence of, and its popularity in the media and on ostensibly progressive websites like this prove that said racism is, tragically, alive and well. This is the sort of shit they say on RedState and FreeRepublic. This is the sort of shit said by people who also say "if blacks can say 'nigger,' why can't I?"

Think about what you are saying and why you are saying it. If white people want to deny reality and claim that they "don't even notice race," they better start acting like it, because I guaranfuckingtee you in 2000 no one fucking called Laura Bush "W's baby mama."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:23 PM on January 20, 2009 [7 favorites]


At first I was like WTFgreengloves until I saw the shoes and then it all made sense. And did anyone else notice the bottoms of her shoes as she walked up the stairs of the Capitol? Gold/yellow bottoms that totally matched her dress. I'm not a shoe person, but damn I was impressed.

I fell more in love with that outfit the more I saw it. I also thought Barack looked fantastic. His coat was amazingly tailored.
posted by threeturtles at 7:00 AM on January 21, 2009


Whatever. In 2016 she's going to run for her husband's old Senate seat, in 2024 she'll run for the President, will get 18 million votes in the primaries but she'll get beaten for the nomination by a gay Asian atheist with a crazy nice logo and a very aggressive Internet campaign. Hope she likes Secretary of State, there's a lot of State dinners to flaunt your wardrobe.
posted by matteo at 7:27 AM on January 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


So—who wants to talk about the ballgown? I understand the Internet iz seriuss bizness and all, but hey. Once every four years, people. Roll with it.
posted by GrammarMoses at 7:49 AM on January 21, 2009


Whatever. In 2016 she's going to run for her husband's old Senate seat, in 2024 she'll run for the President, will get 18 million votes in the primaries but she'll get beaten for the nomination by a gay Asian atheist with a crazy nice logo and a very aggressive Internet campaign. Hope she likes Secretary of State, there's a lot of State dinners to flaunt your wardrobe.
posted by matteo at 7:27 AM on January 21


i don't think so dude george takei's going to be like 87 then
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:34 AM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


that's like 5 years younger than McCain
posted by matteo at 8:41 AM on January 21, 2009


So—who wants to talk about the ballgown?

My wedding dress had a train and I want to know how she managed to dance in it all night without stepping on it or tripping; nevermind getting in and out of cars a dozen times. I also would have taken my damn shoes off after the first ball.

That said, their choice of music choked me up; we had that song at our wedding. And they are soooo obviously in love.
posted by desjardins at 9:00 AM on January 21, 2009


I didn't really like the ballgown. It might have been beautiful in person, but on TV and in photographs, it looked like there were bits of toilet paper attached to it.
posted by bluefly at 10:35 AM on January 21, 2009


I admire that she chooses her own clothes and wears what makes her happy. The clothes don't wear her, you see HER. I did like the lemongrass outfit quite a bit, looks sophisticated and appropriate and retro. A bold choice even if needed to stay into the "conservative" side of clothing.
posted by ratita at 12:59 PM on January 21, 2009


The dress was chartreuse; the gloves were olive, and the shoes were teal. TEAL! It was a spectacular and bold combination that would give my mother and many other women of her generation fits. Such artful mismatching (echoed sweetly by Sasha’s pink and orange) spoke to me, and I think to other women of my age and my sensibility, but still maintained a little of the doily as a measure of due respect for the traditional. I thought it was a smash.
posted by Failure31 at 1:20 PM on January 21, 2009


Chiming in to agree with Failure31... The gloves and shoes have been reported as matching, but in fact they were not, and I thought it was a fabulous combo. Loved the dress! The whole family looked stunning.
posted by torticat at 1:30 PM on January 21, 2009


I totally thought her dress was green until I heard people talk about it on the teevee. Like a celadon green. Now that I know it was yellow, I'm tickled puce.

a good 1/2 of my closet is now that j crew 'honey glaze' color. oh how it feels regal!
posted by wowbobwow at 6:36 PM on January 21, 2009


but I find the use of the word 'bling' in this context just so over-the-top disrespectful, ignorant, and yes - yes! - racist that I can barely stop myself from strangling the people who say it.

Really? I thought it first perfectly here, as the dress was awesome. This use of it was probably a sign of the evolutionary step of the word, as the dress clearly wasn't gawdy, but definitely flashy in subtle way.

In the long run, it would probably help if people unclenched a bit and realize that various cultural aspects of black people are going to seeping into the mainstream in a big way over the next few years.

It's ok. Ya'll survived the mainstreaming of "rock n roll," you'll learn to love bling.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:21 PM on January 21, 2009


I'm not upset that "various aspects of black people" are seeping into the mainstream, I'm annoyed that these are terms that people would only think about using because she is black. Had Laura Bush had the stones to wear such a bold piece, it would be "dazzling," "sparkling" or "effervescent." Put in on Michelle, and suddenly it's "The first lady is BLINGED OUT!" Come on.
posted by piratebowling at 8:05 PM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


In the long run, it would probably help if people unclenched a bit and realize that various cultural aspects of black people are going to seeping into the mainstream in a big way over the next few years.

Jesus, I can't believe I missed this insidious little turdlet.

It's not that "cultural aspects of black people are ... seeping into the mainstream," it's that when a woman graduates from Harvard, has a high-powered career, and is married to the fucking President, she is still subject to fucking retarded white notions about blackness. She can't just be a fabulously successful lawyer and mom who dresses awesome, she's a BLINGIN' BABY MAMA, because she is black.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:22 PM on January 26, 2009


she is still subject to fucking retarded white notions about blackness.

That's silly, the term bling is pretty much seeping into mainstream culture and as used in this post it's pretty innocent if not complementary.

graduates from Harvard, has a high-powered career, and is married to the fucking President

None of which precludes here from having bling.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:08 PM on January 26, 2009


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