The Triumph of Substance and Style: The Changing Fashion of our First Ladies

explores ’s modern style and the fashionable women who came before her

Michelle Obama, wearing an Isabel Toledo lemongrass day coat and dress, waves to the  enthusiastic crowd gathered on the Inaugural Parade route. (Photo by Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)

Michelle Obama, wearing an lemongrass day coat and dress, waves to the enthusiastic crowd gathered on the Inaugural Parade route. (Photo by , Getty Images)

Michelle Obama brings a refreshingly modern style to Washington. Loyal, as was, to American designers, Mrs. Obama has helped lesser known names like , who designed her inauguration gown, and Chicago-based , make headlines. When her daughters wore J. Crew coats, and she J.Crew gloves, during her husband’s swearing in ceremony, the company’s shares went up 10 percent the following day. At the inaugural balls, Mrs. Obama dressed with appropriate glamour, wearing 61-carat white gold and triple rose cut diamond earrings by Los Angeles-based jewelry designer . The jewelry was on loan to the first lady and will be donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

While conjuring images of first lady elegance in the White House, fond memories recall the timeless grace of and the Hollywood glamour of . Mrs. Kennedy exuded chic by wearing the fashions of domestic designers, like , and classic French couturiers like Chanel and Dior. Mrs. Reagan was loyal to American designer , but also looked across the pond to and Valentino. Arriving on the heels of one of the most frugal first ladies ever, (who even brought a sewing machine with her to Pennsylvania Avenue), Nancy Reagan dressed with unapologetic glamour. Her wardrobe for her husband’s second inauguration was estimated at $46,000.

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