Michelle Obama’s election night austerity chic
When Michelle Obama took up residence at the White House four years ago, she ushered in a new set of style rules for political wives.
When Michelle Obama took up residence at the White House four years ago, she ushered in a new set of style rules for political wives. Mixing high end designer labels seamlessly with high street bargains from her beloved J.Crew, she proved that dressing the part of First Lady needn't always mean immaculate power suits (Nancy Reagan), or a fleet of couturiers at your disposal (Jacqueline Kennedy), when sometimes a pair of trainers or a simple bright cardigan will do.
In an era of global recession, it mattered that Michelle wasn't seen to be too grand - one of Sarah Palin's biggest election campaign gaffes was spending $150,000 on her wardrobe and making it look like she had spent $1,500.
Seeing how well Obama's strategy played with the public and the fashion press alike, the precedent was quickly adopted by our own 'First Lady' Samantha Cameron when she arrived at Number 10 - Sam Cam is as happy in cutting edge London Fashion Week designers like Christopher Kane and Peter Pilotto, as she is to be photographed in Boden, M&S and Zara - and subsequently by the Duchess of Cambridge when she joined the royal family.
But in her quest to modernise the monarchy, the 'Austerity Duchess' took fashion economising one stage further, not just by regularly supporting the British high street, but by frequently recycling her outfits - even borrowing dresses from her mother.
Her political fashion statement duly rebounded all the way back to the US, where Michelle Obama's re-election campaign wardrobe has been peppered with looks we've seen her wear before. Most notably, as she took the stage this morning with her husband as he celebrated his presidential victory, Michelle chose, not a fabulously pre-planned, made-to-measure outfit, but one she first wore back in 2010: a metallic Michael Kors dress, teamed with a black cardigan.
Perhaps she didn't think the Democrats were going to win. Maybe she didn't want to look too cock-sure that tomorrow's paper's would be filled with pictures of her smiling by turning up in a box-fresh designer gown.
A deliberately political fashion statement or not, we're just happy to have four more fashionable years of Michelle Obama doing her bit to showcase emerging designers, and acting as an incredible ambassador for designers worldwide.
Four years of Ann Romney's wardrobe would have been a major anticlimax.
By Belinda White, Telegraph.co.uk