Web Site Devoted To New First Lady's Fashion Choices

This story was written by Juliana Appenrodt, Daily Trojan
While President-elect Barack Obama stressed the need for political change throughout his campaign, his wife demonstrated that something else was in need of change the first ladys fashion.

For many, including Mary Tomer, the creator of a blog dedicated to Michelle Obamas wardrobe choices, the initial attention-grabber was Obamas impeccable outfit choice each night of the Democratic National Convention.

From the first night of the DNC, on which she wore a turquoise, V-neck, three-quarter sleeve frock, to the fourth night, when she chose a pink-and-black rose-print cocktail dress, Obama did not fail to showcase her colorful, modern sense of style.

During the DNC... I couldnt help but feel captivated by what [Mrs. Obama] was wearing, Tomer said.

Tomer, who describes herself as a New York girl and an avid reader of Vogue, went straight to her computer after the conclusion of the DNC and used Google to learn exactly what Obama had worn at the convention.

I knew I couldnt be the only one that was interested in this, Tomer said. I then realized I could create this great resource that tracks her style.

With this in mind, Tomer launched her blog in August at mrs-o.org. She called it Mrs. O, a name she loves to use in reference to the future first lady.

The blog chronicles every major fashion statement Mrs. O makes, beginning with her designer ensembles at the DNC. While she wore high-end designs by Maria Pinto, Peter Soronen and Thakoon at the convention, much of the intrigue behind Obamas personal style is her tendency to sport inexpensive clothing as well, Tomer said.

Mrs. O has a knack for mixing high- and low-end designs, she said. It is definitely something we havent seen before. Seeing her mix in J. Crew and H&M is something very new for a first lady.

Obamas high-low style, as it is often called, appeals to the American public because it enables the average person to adopt the trends of a prominent political role model without breaking the bank in the process.

Michelle Obama dresses really sensibly, said Madeline Reddington, a sophomore majoring in print journalism. By sporting more than just high fashion, shes wearing things that normal people can wear too. Shes not elevating herself above everybody elses standards.

Even with retail sales down because of the troubled economy, Obama has succeeded in inspiring American shoppers multiple times throughout the last few months. In October, during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Obama mentioned that her entire yellow ensemble, which she had ordered online, was from J. Crew. Both the $148 pencil skirt and the $89.99 cardigan that she wore on the show were sold out on the J. Crew website the next day.

Because of the great deal of interest the public seems to be taking in Obamas wardrobe choices, comparisons are increasingly being made between her and former first lady Jackie Kennedy.

If you look at Jackie Kennedy, her influence on the taste of the American public and fashion industry was tremendous, Tomer said. Obama has the potential to have the same level of influence.

According to a recent blog entry on Mrs. O, Obamas influence on the fashion world already reaches beyond Americas borders. The Times in London wrote about the dress she wore for her visit to the White House on Nov. 10.

It is a dress that requires total self belief and chutzpah... It has been a long while since a neckline as fashion-forward as this has been spotted within a mile of the Oval Office, wrote Times columnist Sarah Vine.

Vine is referring to a Maria Pinto coral-red dress with three-quarter length sleeves, an empire waist anda high neckline with pleats emanating from the collar. Mrs. O bloggers had predicted that Obama might debut this Pinto design, which she had purchased months earlier, for election night. But Election Day brought a different dress.

Obamas red-and-black Narciso Rodriguez dress, which she paired with a black cardigan on election night, was the subject of much discussion. Some people loved it; some people hated it.

I never really paid attention to her wardrobe choices, but her dress from election night really caught my eye, and not in a good way, said Chris Rivera, a sophomore majoring in fine arts.

Vogue, however, ranked Obama No. 1 on their weekly Top 10 Best-Dressed list for her Rodriguez get-up.

Although Mrs. O details Obamas fashion choices religiously, Tomer said its intentions are light, something to take away from the doom and gloom of todays economic crisis.

I believe its not just a story about clothes, Tomer said. It wouldnt be as interesting if she had a bunch of stylists and handlers. In her case, its really about having a genuine personal style and point of view that comes out in what she wears.