Michelle's Inaugural Gown: Jason Wu

Larger version here.

I really liked Michelle Obama's inaugural gown. It's by 26 year old designer Jason Wu. Via the LA Times: [More...]

Wu is 26 years old, was born in Taiwan and studied at Parsons in New York. The gown is an unusual choice. Obama is wearing white in the winter and white at night. (President Obama's white bow tie and tux combo is even more unusual.) The gown could even be a wedding dress. But Michelle Obama is rewriting the fashion rules and she looks every inch the style icon she is becoming. The one-shouldered style is sexy and the powdery hue reflects the trends we saw on the Golden Globes red carpet. And won't it look nice in the Smithsonian alongside the other first lady gowns?

Jane loved the dress. More praise: The Wall St. Journal; Gothamist.

Good for Michelle for resisting the cookie-cutter gown mold. She's got her own style and it suits her just fine.

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    100% agreed. (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Thanin on Tue Jan 20, 2009 at 10:17:17 PM EST

    I really like (5.00 / 0) (#6)
    by indy in sc on Tue Jan 20, 2009 at 11:03:59 PM EST
    that she chose young, unknown (outside the fashion world) designers for her outfits today instead of going with one of the usual suspects.  The suit she wore for the day events by the cuban-american designer was lovely.  

    All of this attention will help catapult these designers to the next level.

    She almost always chooses not so well-known (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by caseyOR on Tue Jan 20, 2009 at 11:07:44 PM EST
    designers. That is, when she isn't wearing J.Crew.  I'm guessing J.Crew loves Michelle. She gave them a big shout-out on Leno this past summer, wore J. Crew to the children's ball the other day, and outfitted the girls in J.Crew today.

    I like the fact that Mrs. Obama (5.00 / 0) (#10)
    by lucky leftie on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:23:25 AM EST
    makes unconventional choices, good for her.  She's tall and generally looks great in her clothes but I'm not crazy about the gown.  It's pretty but I don't think it flatters her, it makes her look short-waisted or something.

    I liked the ensemble she wore today although I hope and assume she had underarmour on beneath it.  The coat didn't look very heavy was flapping open in the wind.  I would have preferred to see her in a warm coat and a hat, but that's just the mom in me.  Anyway, I doubt that she even felt the chill.

    The kids looked adorable, of course.  

    Short-waisted (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:52:40 AM EST
    Heh.  One of the reasons I like Michelle is that she's the only not actually deformed person in the world I've ever seen with a shorter waist than me (my ribs rake against my hip bones sometimes!), and she looks terrific.  Short-waisted people of the world unite!

    Ditto here. Dropped waists work (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 01:06:43 AM EST
    and this one, not so well on her.  It would look even worse on me.  (And a tip, Ms. Obama: Do NOT attempt a double-breasted jacket.  Nothing's worse on us women who look like we have looooong legs just because there's too little from waist to chin!)

    Shorter waste????? (none / 0) (#16)
    by samtaylor2 on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:04:15 AM EST
    Is that a small trunk?

    Nice gown, but nothing exceptional (none / 0) (#2)
    by Radiowalla on Tue Jan 20, 2009 at 10:30:52 PM EST
    She makes most any garment look great.

    and look glamorous!
    Wonderful day and nice to see so many smiles!

    Commenter Brass Tacks (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Jan 20, 2009 at 10:35:20 PM EST
    is suspended, see the earlier thread. Come back another day.

    I like it (none / 0) (#4)
    by joanneleon on Tue Jan 20, 2009 at 10:37:10 PM EST
    and think she looks great in white and the single strap is really flattering on her.  Like a model, she can really wear clothes that most women can't.  They are saying that white tie is so unusual, but I've always been told that white tie is the highest formal tier.  And what event could be more formal than your own inaugural ball?

    Everyone keeps talking about the gown's length and how she is tripping on it.  It looks to me like the fabric has stretched as the night went on and it has gotten longer.  It does seem to be bothering her.  I'm thinking that at this point, she can't wait to go home and put her feet up.  They have to be exhausted.

    I'm getting a kick out of the color guard having to follow them around and be on the stage every time they go to another ball.  Either that or there are a lot of color guard teams working tonight.

    White tie (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by caseyOR on Tue Jan 20, 2009 at 11:00:57 PM EST
    I think what is unusual about Barack's white tie is that a white tie is more commonly worn with tails. The "white tie and tails" combo is the most formal of men's options. Until tonight I had never seen it with a regular tux jacket. The important thing is that he likes it.

    That tux he wore to those dinners last night was pretty sharp. He looked good.

    Michelle has good muscle definition and tone in her arms. You can tell she works out. She looks so good in sleeveless and off-the-shoulder styles.


    Gown? (none / 0) (#9)
    by gioncarlo on Tue Jan 20, 2009 at 11:37:23 PM EST
    Why are women evaluated by the clothes they wear? It is so demeaning.

    We aren't (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Upstart Crow on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:37:08 AM EST
    We just love fabric and design.

    They say men are always undressing women in their mind. We are always dressing them, like paper dolls. Maybe we never got over our paper dolls.

    We like to redress.


    If men are carnivoriously undressing us (none / 0) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:53:28 AM EST
    I think I'll be honest and confess that a lot of the time women are carnivoriously dressing each other and finding ingenious ways to check each others labels :)  Fashion is always interesting to me, I suppose it comes from my grandmother.

    Men are evaluated, too (2.00 / 0) (#26)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 11:55:01 AM EST
    but it's just not talked about as much, I agree.

    However, it can make a major difference for men in their success, so perhaps they ought to talk about it more.  For example, Obama's shirt collars were absolutely horrible early in the campaign and made him look gawky -- read, young and inexperienced, wearing daddy's shirts -- but interestingly, once he was taken in hand and made to get clothes that fit, he did better on the campaign trail, too.

    Of course, because it's not much talked about, his much more expensive suits (almost $2,000, I saw somewhere) and better shirts went right by most in the media and public who picked on Palin -- whether at first for her own clothes or then for wearing what was picked out for her. . . .


    The thing about clothing is (none / 0) (#13)
    by oldpro on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 01:30:36 AM EST
    ...it should fit and be flattering

    ...it should be comfortable

    ...it should be suitable for the occasion/weather

    I assume today's dress w/matching sweater and coat was chosen for appearance and color.  Obviously, not for comfort.  Walking down the street she was constantly grabbing at it and holding it together in front against the wind.  It flew open to expose the lining...a distraction...and she looked really cold.  He didn't and neither did any of the other women who were bundled up good...as were her girls.  Also, was that a necklace or part of the dress?  When did we start wearing rhinestones with suits and day dresses?  I guess it's the bling thing.

    Her inaugural dress is unflattering, too long and not a 'ball gown.'  Bad choice for someone with bad posture...one-shoulder treatment draws attention to it.  A common issue for tall girls and women.

    OK, OK...nothing personal.  I spent 25 years in retail clothing...it's second nature to observe the details.

    The major detail was that she rose above it all, looked energized and happy.  That's what counts.

    I didn't want to be the grinch (5.00 / 3) (#18)
    by Upstart Crow on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:59:03 AM EST
    So I let you be it first. I wanted to like these because of the bright new talent behind the dresses, but...

    Agree with you about the one-shoulder thing. MO is a big lady, big-boned and wide-hipped. It's easy for her to look ungainly in the wrong clothes. And for all the reasons you mentioned, she did so on the inaugural. She does have nice arms and shoulders, but not in a one-shoulder evening gown (it wasn't a ball gown). You may be right; it may be a posture thing.

    The ball gown was a mess, and the inaugural dress looked like it was made out of upholstery fabric.  Ensembles look so fussy and matronly (and usually dated) anyway.  At least it looked this way before the cameras, and that's what she must dress for nowadays -- so all the people saying it looked good close up doesn't cut it.

    But NOBODY has commented on the absolutely smashing ensemble (yes, it was an ensemble) she wore to Arlington National Cemetery. Camel coat with black dress beneath.  Now THAT was classy. Smart and chic and becoming.

    She looks good in more professional, tailored things.

    (My mum was a dress designer.)

    In response to the poster somewhere on here: we don't evaluate women by their clothes, but we do love fabric and design!


    Agree with you 100%. Neither outfit was (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Angel on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:06:18 AM EST
    flattering to her figure, and the colors did not work, IMO.  She's much better in darker and more vibrant colors.   She was obviously uncomfortable walking in the dress on the parade route; and she looked very uncomfortable in the gala dress, especially when she was trying to dance.  She was constantly having to move the skirt around, etc., and it was uncomfortable for me to watch.  If she liked it then that's the true test, I guess.  But my overall grade for both outfits is a C.  I'm disappointed because Jill Biden wore a simple red strapless that looked just absolutely smashing on her.  Wish she had given Michelle some advice.

    But check out the black-and-camel number... (none / 0) (#20)
    by Upstart Crow on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:25:45 AM EST
    ...from the Arlington Cemetery gig.

    I missed the Arlington outfit. (none / 0) (#27)
    by oldpro on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:06:39 PM EST
    The Arlington photo I found had Michelle in a lavenderblue coat...lovely.

    Got a link?  I can't find the camel/black number!  Classic color combo I can't wear myself but almost always like on those who can.


    only photo I can find now (none / 0) (#28)
    by Upstart Crow on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:17:15 PM EST
    "We Are One" concert? (none / 0) (#30)
    by Upstart Crow on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:21:51 PM EST
    Argh. I must be wrong. This is the "We Are One" ensemble -- not Arlington.

    Thanks. It's terrific. (none / 0) (#31)
    by oldpro on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:38:27 PM EST
    I haven't yet seen a color (none / 0) (#32)
    by joanneleon on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:43:18 PM EST
    that didn't look good on her.  I agree the camel and black outfit was very smart.  But I thought she looked great in both outfits yesterday.  I would have liked to have seen the gold outfit up close.  It looked like it had beautiful detail to it.  The long matching coat was something only a tall woman could wear well.  It did look like it wasn't warm enough though.  A warm coat and hat would have worked well.  Maybe she doesn't like hats or something though.  And on a windy day like yesterday, it could have been a problem.  Who knows?

    As for the gown, I suppose they were going for a very formal look.  I thought the one shoulder flattered her because she has great shoulders and arms.  Wide hips? (said by someone above)  I'll show you wide hips :)  Mine would be at least 36 with just skin and bones.  It's funny how people see things differently.  I agree she is a tall, athletic woman and not a petite, but I don't see  her as "big-boned" either.  She seems to me to be proportional and with relatively small hips and a nice waist.  If she were not so obviously uncomfortable in the gown, largely because of the length, I think there would have been less comment about it.  

    I had to laugh at a comment I saw last night saying something like "Michelle, go back stage and get some scissors and cut six inches off that gown.  Just do it!"  I had been thinking the same thing myself.  I think I would have called that designer, or someone to do something with the length.  Then I thought, well, the gown has to go to a museum or something, and she probably thinks she has to keep it as is.  Then I thought, heck, she could just get the designer to make another one -- who would know?  And she can do whatever she wants.  She's the first lady after all.  :)

    Obviously, my view is tainted because I just wanted it to turn out well for her and it would have taken a complete fashion disaster for me to criticize.  Even then, I might have found something to defend.  It's just one of those times when I felt like I could do that.

    P.S.  This is coming from someone who had serious doubts about Michelle early on.  To her credit, the more I "got to know her" and the more she developed her public personality, the more I liked and respected her and cheered her on.


    Pastels don't look good (none / 0) (#34)
    by oldpro on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 01:07:05 PM EST
    on her.  It's a rare AA who can wear a pastel color.

    Best:  Black, white and vivid colors along with classic beige, tan, camel, champagne, wheat, etc.!  Think African textiles.  Too bad she didn't find a way to incorporate some of that feeling into an Americanized version this week.  Maybe in the summer...they're cotton, after all!


    Yo u took the words right out of my mouth... (none / 0) (#29)
    by vml68 on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:20:46 PM EST
    I didn't want to be the grinch

    I am a firm believer in wearing the clothes you feel good in and to h*ll with what the world thinks. You just can't please everybody.
    That said, I did not care for either of Michelle's outfits yesterday. The bling around the neck on an already sparkly outfit was a bit too much for me and paired with completely different shades of green gloves and shoes....I was not digging it.

    I was expecting her inaugral gown to be a vivid/bright color, so the white was a definite surprise. I don't know if it was the cut/style but it was definitely not flattering to her figure.

    Malia and Sasha's outfits were gorgeous and they looked absolutely beautiful.

    Hillary also looked beautiful in her blue outfit during the inaugaration.


    Michelle's Dress (none / 0) (#14)
    by dottygoat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 03:24:06 AM EST
    Don't like it. It doesn't look good on her.

    It's by 26 year old designer Jason Wu. (none / 0) (#15)
    by dottygoat on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 03:30:50 AM EST
    Check out Jason Wu's website. This guys work is not very nice looking. UUUUGH!

    It was ok (none / 0) (#17)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 08:55:08 AM EST
    The outfit she wore during the day was really nice - the gown-  not so much.  Looked like she had dryer lint stuck to it.  

    She would have been better off in a brighter color.

    But she still looked better than the "gunshot victim" dress she wore on Election Night.

    Choosing a garment (none / 0) (#22)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:36:18 AM EST
    designed by the old guard certainly would not have been fitting at this moment in our history.  There are so many out there fresh and wonderful.  I don't like Wu's stuff though.

    dress (none / 0) (#25)
    by capitalistfloridaboy on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 10:57:24 AM EST
    who cares.....her husband needs to get to work.........

    Who cares? Heh...are you (none / 0) (#33)
    by oldpro on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 12:50:01 PM EST
    misnamed, capitalistfloridaboy?

    You may have noticed that the retail sales numbers are down, down, down and the market is taking a heckuva hit.

    Retail clothing is vital to our capitalist economy and millions of jobs attach to it, in mfg, in sales, in advertising, etc.  Just now, the major retail sales are Obama tee shirts and other Obama memorabilia.  It's not enough to reverse the trend but every little bit helps...or not.

    Every sector of the economy matters...including women's clothing.  I still have a 'Jackie pillbox hat' from the 60s.

    Even so, I was disturbed to see so many Democrats/Obama supporters wearing fur.  Not a progressive message but a status symbol.  Ugh.


    Don't think she gives a damn (none / 0) (#35)
    by Upstart Crow on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 01:45:22 PM EST
    Maybe she does now.

    I get the feeling that she's the kind of woman who never cared much about clothes. She's a lawyer, after all. Jackie, with whom she is ineptly compared, was a finishing school debutante junior-year-swanning-in-Paris person. JKO probably spent much of her life thinking about what looked good on her and the spaces around her. MO is a lawyer. (About the only thing they have in common is the "O")

    I think she was very happy to get it from J. Crew and forget about it.

    Hillary pays $5K for each of those pantsuits everyone makes fun of. They are handmade, and she knows they will fit her and how they will fit her before she puts them on. Remember the photo in the papers of one of her aides holding up different suits on hangers in the lights before she gave a big speech -- to see what color looked best in the lights? (HRC is another lawyer who spent much of her life in oversize sweaters and jeans.)

    The Cuban-American designer Toledo didn't even know that her ensemble was "the" suit until that morning -- that certainly gave no time for tailoring, thinking, tinkering, and trying things out.

    MO might be better off not trying to be Jackie or Laura Bush II (she said LB was her role model). I think she's got more teeth than that, and she might as well be damned for what she is rather than damned for pretending to be something she's not.

    That said, I'm glad she's promoting young designers. And she can learn, if she really wants to: remember what a mess Princess Di's early photos were?

    But is it worth the bother? Why not just give more business to J. Crew?

    sexism in "fashion" discussion (none / 0) (#36)
    by jannaldredgeclanton on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 01:57:26 PM EST
    I envision a day when women will not be judged on our figures and fashion, but on our minds and mission!  Michelle is a highly educated, articulate woman.  So why didn't she have any role in the inauguration besides dressing well, waving, smiling, and hugging her husband?  For heavens sake, she has a strong voice, so why not let her use it?

    The gown was not a good choice. (none / 0) (#37)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:13:35 PM EST
    It mad her look huge, much wider - both side to side and front to back - than she is.

    michelle obamas fashion chioces (none / 0) (#38)
    by elle7 on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 02:18:27 PM EST

    Sorry - I thought of my grandma's bedspread (none / 0) (#39)
    by allimom99 on Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 04:11:19 PM EST
    with glitter. The inauguration outfit also had too many sparkles. she really does look best in more vibrant colors and simple lines. Much more elegant.