Monday, April 06, 2009

Insights from a Sweater Mom: Lessons From Michelle Obama's Wardrobe

I'm a sweater mom, but Michelle Obama's blue argyle sweater left me cold. Otherwise, I cheered her recent G-20 wardrobe selections, and I picked up some valuable tips about fashion, finance and life from Michelle Obama's wardrobe.

Here's what I learned:

*Know your market: At least one major designer has complained about Michelle O's decision to favor minor designers and J. Crew. There are those who lobby for a head-to-toe haute couture fashion statement. First of all, I think most of her fashion choices were stunning. Second, given the state of the global economy, a trunk full of big-ticket designer garments would have been a poor choice. On the world stage and in our personal dressing rooms, conspicuous spending is out.

Conversely, what's most striking about each of Mrs. Obama's appearances is not the grandiose message, diverse labels or designers' origins. Rather, it is their unmistakable, uniform accessibility and appropriateness. -- on CNN

*Know your audience: I appreciate Michelle Obama's effort to look approachable at a girl's school in London. It's important for clothing, attitudes and finances to match the occasion. One of my worst fashion disasters occurred when I was impeccably dressed in a very trendy brown suit with matching shoes. Unfortunately, the chic outfit looked out of place at a children's carnival, where I was hanging out with my children who were in pre-school and in elementary school at the time. As a working mother running from the office, I had run straight from work to the carnival. It was great to be there, but I had wished that I had worn an outfit that would have met my multi-tasking lifestyle. My personal rule: Flexibility and diversity are important in fashion and finance.

Sweaters are frugal: Confession: In the years since my carnival disaster, I've become a sweater mom. Here's why: Sweaters can be worn with gowns, jean skirts, a-line power skirts and with sweat pants. Sweaters can look hip, trendy, edgy, practical or homey. Basically, sweaters are good investments and are a staple in my wardrobe.

Mistakes happen: Yes, I love sweaters, especially the sparkling sweater the First Lady wore with a pencil skirt. However, I think the blue argyle sweater was a fashion misstep. I also disliked the white shirt with the huge bow. But you know what: mistakes happen when we're active and taking risks. What's more, something that looks like a mistake to one person, could appear as a savvy move to someone else.

It's just seams: Fashion is just thread, button and seams. There are more important issues and patterns to target. One of Michelle Obama's most memorable moments in Europe occurred during a blue-sweater moment when she urged an audience of school girl's to use their brains and study hard. Who cares who made the sweater or how much it cost? Her words --not her wardrobe -- provided the biggest fashion statement.

"I'm an example of what is possible when girls from the very beginning of their lives are loved and nurtured by people around them," she told them, adding "you too can control your own destiny." --Michelle Obama


GothamTomato said...

Yes. Isn't Shelly O just too fabulous for words? And the best part is she has even more substance that style.

And how amusing it is to think back to just this time last year, when that conservative slime machine was working overtime trying to convince the American public that she was a liability (& angry)?

Congrats (& a big fist bump) to Mrs. O on her smashing European debut.

P.S.-- You need to get her to be photographed carrying your book!

pamela said...

I don't think the argyle sweater was a disaster - just off beat - & the way femme politicos dress, it was, in its own way - refreshing!

Anne Mobilityscooter said...

For me, wardrobe is not an issue and I find those who are keen on the clothing of the first lady so sassy. Using the wrong clothes will not solve the problem. just a point to ponder.

Chiang Mai said...

Could the huge popularity of Michelle Obama be a sign of changing attitudes in the fashion industry? Vogue featured Michelle Obama on its cover recently. Michelle Obama in particular has ushered in new era of style and entertaining.