January 21st, 2009

Michelle Obama’s gauzy gown

Okay, I’m a woman, and I notice these fashiony things. So sue me.

I happen to think Michelle Obama usually dresses beautifully. She’s tall and slender and toned (although hardly model-thin, especially the lower half of her body). If carefully chosen, clothes tend to drape and show well on her.

But beginning with election night, when she wore the outfit generally referred to as the Black Widow Spider Dress, her taste in ensembles for ceremonial occasions has gone sadly awry:


But I really thought she’d pull it out for the ball, and that she’d return to the simple and classically elegant look that served her so well during the campaign. Instead, we got this fussy, figure-obscuring, girlish bit of fluffery :


Michelle, Michelle, whatever were you thinking? Where did the Jackie Kennedy influence go? Instead, you seem to be looking for inspiration in all the wrong places, like here:


Or perhaps here:


And then there’s here:


26 Responses to “Michelle Obama’s gauzy gown”

  1. Michelle Obama’s Ball Gown | The Anchoress Says:

    […] Neo also didn’t much like the gown […]

  2. Scottie Says:

    Awwww, you mean….mean..meannnnn neocon you!

    How dare you criticize the appearance of The Bride of The One!

    (hmm, kind of sounds like the name of a horror movie title…)

    But it is hilarious!

  3. Tater Says:

    Looked like a burlap sack to me, did make her butt look a lot bigger than it is though.

  4. Dizzied Says:

    Oh Neo, how I love your commentary. Astute political insight with the occasional foray into the arts and fashion. I agree that in general Michelle Obama dresses well. But I’ve been thinking since November that the relative lack of negative press Michelle Obama’s election-night dress garnered is as clear a sign of media bias as any. And last night’s dress reminded me a bit of the Bjork swan dress.


  5. dane Says:

    Not sure who said it, but the quote was “women dress for other women.” But guys notice. (What the hell was that floral dress she was wearing on The View a while back?)

    Ms. Obama has some figure issues which can be well (ad)dressed given the people who are at her disposal (especially for yesterday and last night). But unfortunately, like many women I have seen, she was attempting to look couture instead of look good. And with those around her I think it was a case of “the Empress’s New Clothes”. Too bad she didn’t have someone who was a good enough friend to say “Girl that outfit just ain’t gettin’ it”.

    I think her children (and darn they are cute) upstaged her in the clothing category.

  6. Tatyana Says:

    Yay! At least i’m not alone in my opinion! (see the thread here). Although I don’t share in your praise of Mrs O general good taste. The thing’s nonexistent. Her figure and posture? Mediocre at best. And if we actually dare to look up at her fierce face…those witch eyebrows…oy.

  7. csimon Says:

    It’s called the supreme “fashion victim.” I’m guessing Oprah probably loaned her stylists to Mrs. Obama for the occasion (ya think?) — no mater who, from that ombre black/red dress at te acceptance speech, to the sour yellow tweed suit and pea green (we used to have another more descriptive owrd for that color which we will refreain from here) gloves, to the “fussy is right) gown which did nothing to flatter her…

    I have been in fashion industy for a long ime. It mattersn not a wit who fashioned the outfit, if it does absolutely nothing for the wearer (success on the other hand will reflect brilliantly on both). Certainly she will not have a huge amount of time to shop for cothes herself, so I do hope she will ultimately find a stylist who is interested in WHO Mrs. Obama is, what she is comfortable in, and what will flatter her the most, while subtly masking the areas of her figure which one prefers to be less obvious!. It’s called COLLABORATION — and when done correctly, it is, over time, actually barely noticed, because i creates a consistent appearance or excellent taste, class, comfort and suitability to occasion. Over all, the effect is success and fine taste. Hopefully, Mrs. Obama will find her comfort zone, as have many first ladies preceding her, and not live for each outfit she must pesent.

  8. Robohobo Says:

    How much did she spend and whose money? That is what I want to know. Did it come from monies for the biggest Inauguration ever?

    neo – you are asking the wrong questions!

  9. Katie-O in Charlotte Says:

    Oy is correct! Michele, Michele, Michele, where shall I begin?
    1.) Ladies are not to wear diamonds for day, pearls are correct (although not for that ensemble you wore to the swearing in). That pea green number (I loathed it – most especially the bile colored shoes and gloves) is really more suitable for an evening occasion. Believe me, you will have those occasions as FLOTUS.
    2.) Ladies of a certain age are not to wear white evening attire after the age of 30. Period. White is to be saved for debuts and weddings for YOUNG women. Not to say that 43 is old, but I think you are watching too much “Housewives of Orange County”. Dress your age, avoid the meringue-y concoctions.
    3.) HIRE A STYLIST! Geez!

    And Michele, no candlelight at lunch – follow the Chief Usher’s recommendations – we taxpayers hired him so that you won’t make a complete fool of yourself. You may also want to invest in some lessons in etiquette as you will be presented to Queen Elizabeth II – her handlers will advise you as to how to avoid embarrassing yourself, your husband, and the USA.
    I didn’t have to worry about this stuff with Laura Bush as FLOTUS – don’t we Americans have enough on our plate?
    Oh, and one more thing Michele – your hair and make up were impeccable. Well done!

  10. Helen Says:

    Oh I wouldn’t worry about Mrs Obama embarrassing herself before the Queen. Her Majesty put up with Cherie Blair, who never got a single outfit right, for years and never quite learned to behave herself. On the other hand, I agree with Tatyana. Never noticed that Michelle Obama is all that elegant. She could look great. Mostly she looks a mess.

  11. 11B40 Says:


    Now, girls. A little sisterhood, please. Remember your all victims of the same oppression.

  12. Tatyana Says:

    11B40: your comment was first in a whole week to actually make me laugh aloud.

    Another thought re: Mrs Obama: isn’t she a lawyer who graduated Ivy League school? Aren’t they given instruction, as part of the curriculum, about self-presentation? I know I was, as a design student in mere state school. We were taught public speaking, how to dress right for the occasion and expected company, and generally what to do with our hands while the eyes of the audience are on us.

    I think she should demand her tuition money back.
    Or, rather, we, the taxpayers (who footed the bill) should.

  13. nolanimrod Says:

    OK. Come on. That ball gown is a gag, right? I didn’t watch any of this on TV so I wouldn’t know.

  14. March Hare Says:

    I am SO glad I’m not the only one who wonders at Mrs. O’s taste. It might be the angle of the pictures, but to me she looks to have arather Amazonian/Xena-ish figure. Nothing wrong with that–Lynda Carter and Lucy Lawless both look great.

    Mrs. O needs a stylist who understands big, beautiful women of color and who also understands Black hair. Libs used to make fun of Lynne Cheney’s “helmet hair.” I think Mrs. O has a similar problem.

  15. Mrs. Whatsit Says:

    Oh Neo, I love you, and I love this blog. From political analysis to ballet and poetry to pure female fashion cattiness, and right on target all the way.

    Mrs. O. does, indeed, need a stylist. I am told that she and the President had to rock back and forth at the inaugural balls, rather than dancing, because he could not move his feet more than an inch or two without stepping on all that yardage draped around the First Lady. Ever since “The View,” she’s gone far too far into flowers and flounces and fussiness. But let’s give her credit, she’s something new: this kind of power and strength has never been seen in a First Lady before. It’s no wonder they are having trouble dressing her properly.

    Please, Madame O, step away from the frills and furbelows, back off from the bling. Can’t you just see her in something lean and simple and elegant that would match and enhance that powerful, athletic, graceful style that belongs to her by nature?

  16. Donna B. Says:

    The ball dress (I won’t dignify it by calling it a gown) was a horrible mistake. I cannot think of anyone who it would have looked good on.

    While I do not have the discriminating eye to come up with fashions that look good on Michelle Obama, I do have enough taste to veto that which could never look good on anyone.

    Michelle Obama actually has a fantastic body that is also “common” in that it is like many other female bodies. That means it is not a fashion model’s body, but a real woman’s body.

    Hips and tummies are real and should be celebrated because they are also damn sexy.

  17. Foxfier Says:


    Look, I’m someone who spends 80% of the time in jeans and a T-shirt, with hair in an unflattering ponytail. I can’t even put on makeup properly, most of the time.

    Even I can tell the “I’m 18 in the 80s and at the prom” dress is bad.

    She is NOT an unattractive woman– why is she wearing something so ugly?

    Just take what you are thinking of wearing, put it on, and ask your kids what they think. You’ll look pretty good most of the time.

  18. Oldflyer Says:

    There are two women bloggers I really enjoy. Coincidentally, they have each turned down-right catty toward the First Lady’s attire during inauguration events.

    Is this part of the “Change” we have been waiting for? Or is it just natural feminine reaction asserting itself?

  19. Uncle Tarquin Says:

    I don’t know much about fashion but that ball gown looks like its made out of damp toilet paper shot out of a toy cannon.

  20. Tatyana Says:

    Why is it that when legitimate, argument-backed criticism is extended towards presentation package of a woman by other women, men dismiss it with “catty” label?
    Why don’t you accept it as a review by an experts – in something you have no idea nor desire to be knowledgeable in?

  21. Michelle Obama’s Fashion Critics Not Partisan, Nor Mean-Spirited! — But As For Me Says:

    […] neo-neocon » Blog Archive » Michelle Obama’s gauzy gown […]

  22. neo-neocon Says:

    Oldflyer: You call that catty? With all due respect, then you ain’t seen catty.

    Notice how many compliments I gave the woman before I trashed the dress?

  23. miss kelly Says:

    Yeeks, that black and red dress is so disturbing. It brings to mind a botched abortion. Sorry, but it does. Ghastly in extremis.

  24. Foxfier Says:

    The red and black one made her look like she should be playing a character named “Black Widow.”

    Saying that something that ugly is unflattering is NOT being catty!

  25. Black reporters unhappy with Obama — But As For Me Says:

    […] neo-neocon » Blog Archive » Michelle Obama’s gauzy gown […]

  26. Fausta’s Blog » Blog Archive » About Michelle Obama’s gown… Says:

    […] Neo-neocon didn’t like it, either. […]

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

Monthly Archives


Ace (bold)
AmericanDigest (writer’s digest)
AmericanThinker (thought full)
Anchoress (first things first)
AnnAlthouse (more than law)
AtlasShrugs (fearless)
AugeanStables (historian’s task)
Baldilocks (outspoken)
Barcepundit (theBrainInSpain)
Beldar (Texas lawman)
BelmontClub (deep thoughts)
Betsy’sPage (teach)
Bookworm (writingReader)
Breitbart (big)
ChicagoBoyz (boyz will be)
Contentions (CommentaryBlog)
DanielInVenezuela (against tyranny)
DeanEsmay (conservative liberal)
Donklephant (political chimera)
Dr.Helen (rights of man)
Dr.Sanity (thinking shrink)
DreamsToLightening (Asher)
EdDriscoll (market liberal)
Fausta’sBlog (opinionated)
GayPatriot (self-explanatory)
HadEnoughTherapy? (yep)
HotAir (a roomful)
InFromTheCold (once a spook)
InstaPundit (the hub)
JawaReport (the doctor is Rusty)
LegalInsurrection (law prof)
RedState (conservative)
Maggie’sFarm (centrist commune)
MelaniePhillips (formidable)
MerylYourish (centrist)
MichaelTotten (globetrotter)
MichaelYon (War Zones)
Michelle Malkin (clarion pen)
Michelle Obama's Mirror (reflections)
MudvilleGazette (milblog central)
NoPasaran! (behind French facade)
NormanGeras (principled leftist)
OneCosmos (Gagdad Bob’s blog)
PJMedia (comprehensive)
PointOfNoReturn (Jewish refugees)
Powerline (foursight)
ProteinWisdom (wiseguy)
QandO (neolibertarian)
RachelLucas (in Italy)
RogerL.Simon (PJ guy)
SecondDraft (be the judge)
SeekerBlog (inquiring minds)
SisterToldjah (she said)
Sisu (commentary plus cats)
Spengler (Goldman)
TheDoctorIsIn (indeed)
Tigerhawk (eclectic talk)
VictorDavisHanson (prof)
Vodkapundit (drinker-thinker)
Volokh (lawblog)
Zombie (alive)

Regent Badge