May 24th, 2017

Michelle Obama in Italy: fashion for ex-First Ladies

Quite a few people have mentioned the stories fawning over Michelle Obama’s one shoulder blouse in Italy.

Here’s the blouse, in case you somehow missed this item of great and burning import:

That wasn’t all. There was also this, in the same vein:

First, let me re-establish my position on Michelle Obama and fashion, a topic I’ve written about before. Yes, much of the praise of Michelle is over-the-top, but so is much of the criticism. I’ve always found her to be an attractive woman with a good if imperfect figure, who’s a bit challenging to dress. Her pluses are her height and her upper body, particularly her fit-but-still-feminine arms (of which I think she’s justly proud). Sometimes she dresses beautifully in a way that accents her assets and minimizes her flaws (the latter are mainly on the bottom half of her figure). Sometimes her choices are unfortunate, to my way of thinking.

But for eight years she’s had to dress under constant scrutiny from both sides. That scrutiny will never go away. I’m not going to weep for her—it all came with enormous perks and great power, and she sought it and probably enjoys it very much. But still, I would wager she generally dressed a lot more conservatively than she wanted to a great deal of the time she was First Lady.

Now she gets to relax somewhat and be herself—or at least some public-but-private-citizen version of herself. And she probably wants to be trendier now and show off those shoulders.

But IMHO both blouses are very unflattering on her. They are difficult to wear styles, and best left to the young and waiflike. Michelle Obama is neither. I couldn’t pull off those blouses very well, either. Her ripped jeans, likewise. She looks like she’s trying to be a teen. One of her daughters would look great in those outfits, but not Michelle.

I am a bit like Michelle in that I can’t pull off ruffly fashions very well at all. I don’t know why, because I’m not masculine-looking, but I have a look that seems to require cleaner lines. And if there’s a print, it needs to be graphic. If flowers are in the print, they need to be large and dramatic. No little flowered numbers for me—they make me look like I’m in a housedress. I don’t know why, but that’s the way it is.

40 Responses to “Michelle Obama in Italy: fashion for ex-First Ladies”

  1. Susanamantha Says:

    No small flowery clothes for me, either. I too prefer larger and bolder flowered patterns but have to be careful lest I look like Grandmother’s slip covers.

  2. expat Says:

    What is it with the ripped jeans? Grow up Michelle.

  3. texexec Says:

    Michelle Obama looks tacky in that garb. Trump has better taste in women who, in turn, have better taste than Michelle.

    You don’t have to be a model to dress better than Michelle either. Laura Bush is a good example.

  4. parker Says:

    I am a man who truly appreciates the wide variety of female attractiveness, but Michelle Obama does not fall under that large umbrella. I find nothing attractive about her. Well dressed or partially undressed I see nothing about her that warrants the adjective attractive. Angular lacking soft female attributes is my description of her.

  5. Oldflyer Says:

    I would hardly say that she “had” to dress under constant scrutiny, or otherwise. She obviously did not care what most people thought about the image the First Lady projected, when she would leave AF1 in jean shorts or whatever–meanwhile military personnel were in dress uniforms, and anyone else who was tasked with welcoming her were in business attire.

    But, you are correct. She can dress any way she wants to now; who cares what she does? A bit off topic but, I wonder if she has reverted to not feeling proud of her country? By her own admission it would not be the first time if she weren’t.

    Texec, fully agree about Laura Bush. She always projected class and dignity, and represented us very well.

  6. Yankee Says:

    That bare shoulder stuff is good if you’re in your teens to twenties, or mid-thirties if you’re a model or actress. There are other photos of Michelle Obama out there where she has on sleeveless attire, but her shoulders are still covered, and that helps. On the plus side, the white purse and the silver bracelets make for good accessories.

    Now imagine other prominent women baring their shoulders in similar ways, such as Hillary Clinton, or Theresa May, or Angela Merkel. On second thought, please don’t.

    That stocky bald black guy is probably Secret Service. His outfit of slacks and a polo shirt is casual but presentable, designed to blend in with the crowd. He likely has an inside-the-waistband holster for a compact pistol, concealed by the untucked polo shirt, a good accessory for the weather and location. Notice his professional demeanor, leaving both hands free, while the women-folk carry the shopping bags.

  7. John Guilfoyle Says:

    Was it Carville who used the expression about a $100 bill & a trailer park?

  8. Cornhead Says:

    Yeah, ripped jeans. For someone who just signed a $60m book deal, not a good look.

    She looks like her brother, former power forward for Princeton.

  9. Gringo Says:

    While I agree that Michelle Obama in ripped pants or uncovered shoulder doesn’t look good because she doesn’t dress her age, I could be rightfully accused of dressing today pretty much as I did when I was a teenager.

    The jeans and cords I wore as a teenager are what I choose to wear when it is cool enough to wear pants. Most of the year I wear shorts. Some might call that juvenile dressing not appropriate for someone old enough to receive Social Security. My reply is that shorts are appropriate when the daily high is above 75- as it is for over 6 months of the year. The shirts I wear today- plaid, pinstripe or solid for long sleeve shirts- are of the same type I wore as a teenager.

    In one sense, my dressing is more juvenile than when I was a teenager. I wear a fair number of T-shirts in hot weather. T-Shirts with a wide variety of designs were not as available when I was a teenager as they are today. At least the variety of designs was not available.

    The Hawaiian type short sleeve shirts I wear in the summer? They were probably not as available when I was a teenager. In any event, their informality is more juvenile than ancient.

    Part of the difference is that men’s fashions are not as volatile as women’s fashions. Thank God.

    When my grandmothers were of Michelle Obama’s age- circa 55- and up, they wore old lady shoes and old lady dresses. Michell Obama should not feel obligated to dress like an old lady – of the 1950s.

  10. Ann Says:

    If you look at photos of Michelle Obama taken around 2007, you’ll see she wore almost no makeup and dressed in plain, unremarkable clothes; she looked almost frumpish. That tells me she’s a person who wasn’t into clothes and fashion, but when she became first lady it was makeover time. She may still not spend all that much time on planning her wardrobe, and I bet her young daughters influence her choices now a lot.

    And I don’t think she looks masculine at all. Her very long arms and legs give her walk a gangly, loping quality, but it’s not mannish to me.

  11. Esther Says:

    Oh, but no, but no… guess there is no stylist anymore. And I agree, in the pre presidential days she cared not for clothes… And, not that I would stand up to scrutiny myself, but, oh to the no.

  12. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    The pink blouse isn’t that bad — it’s too young for her and it doesn’t seem to fit quite right, but given her nice smooth skin and firm arms, it’s not awful. The white one is awful. It seems to be falling off, there are other photos taken of the same outfit in which the ruffle has blown up over her face or she seems to be holding it up, and the way it’s cut just makes no sense. As for the ripped jeans, they are always awful on anybody, and they’re especially awful on people with lots of money.

    I don’t feel badly about scrutinizing what she wears. Those clothes were chosen to get attention — if she didn’t want scrutiny she could have picked quiet, tasteful garments. She didn’t do that, so I’ll scrutinize away!

  13. blert Says:

    M.O. has so MANY male attributes that it’s easy to understand why many opine that she’s a tranny.

    Her traps, alone, are astounding for a female.

    Consequently a lowered top is a BAD fashion decision for M.O.

  14. mollyNH Says:

    Very uncouth that MO visited many of the venerable historic churches in Tuscany in that ridiculous get up she was wearing but I guess it’s just another way to * stick it to western civilization* and all that absurd God mythology and other dumb stuff. Why there is , Marx, Marshall Davis, Stalin and so many other people of accomplishment.

  15. J.J. Says:

    I disagree with just about everything Michelle Obama has said since she has been in the public eye. That said, I feel a bit sorry for her. She married Obama and was thrust into a position she was not well suited to. I know, many women have that happen to them and manage to do a creditable job. It has not helped that she followed Laura Bush, a very classy lady; and has been replaced by Melania Trump, the goddess from Slovenia. Bad luck for Michelle. I feel sorry for her and refuse to critique her outfits.

  16. AesopFan Says:

    Mrs Whatsit Says:
    May 24th, 2017 at 9:16 pm As for the ripped jeans, they are always awful on anybody, and they’re especially awful on people with lots of money.
    * * *
    Looks like cultural appropriation to me.
    Where’s the PC police when you need ’em?

  17. Ira Says:


    Once again you provide interesting commentary on a matter about which I would otherwise be absolutely clueless.



  18. Ken Mitchell Says:

    Ripped jeans are fine for working in the garden, or even going to the garden store to buy plants or potting soil. Definitely NOT appropriate for being a tourist in Europe.

    It looks trashy, Michelle. Don’t do this again.

  19. expat Says:

    Michelle wasn’t thrust into a position. She has been trying to get to the top since she decided to ride her brother’s coat tails into Princeton. The problem with Michelle is that she has never bothered to ask herself who she is or where she wants to go, other than up. Her ripped jeans, just like her rapster friends, are an attempt to fit in with the cool set. But at her age, that set should be a bit older than 20. Apparently she values her mother’s down-to-earth approach to raising kids, but that is not what she tried to bring to young black women. Instead she went into the whole garden, nutrtion, school lunch thing but forgot to tell girls that they should learn to cook for their kids. She is not too smart and certainly not a deep thinker.

  20. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    AesopFan: ha!

  21. Julia Says:

    It’s very difficult to get decent jeans. I shop at Nordstrom’s (when I shop, which is maybe once a year)and it’s all ripped, faded, fringe instead of a nice hem, and so forth. I don’t judge too much, because I feel that women can get sucked into the trend du jour.

    When Michelle dresses well, she hits it out of the park. More often, she strikes out – I was cringing when I saw these pictures, and there are more dreadful ones out there.

    This tells me that she doesn’t have a sense of her own style and what looks good on her. She dresses ‘what she likes’ most likely, as opposed to what looks good on her. I think she could be an icon if she had a good stylist. With all her money, she should get one.

  22. Bill Says:

    “Trump has better taste in women who, in turn, have better taste than Michelle.”

    I couldn’t care less about what Michelle wears. I was never a big fan of hers, but I think she’s an attractive woman for someone her age.

    But Trump has “better taste” because he turns over his wives about every decade, trading them in for newer, fancier models.

  23. Rastus Duprees Says:

    hahaha i’d say she has problems with her lower body — she has a giant ass and a big ole gut bucket. and her face is ugly. other than that, yeah, she’s “hot” guffaw.

  24. Bill Says:

    I’m just loving the new Republican party #familyValues

  25. Dave Says:

    Reagan mentioned he used to sleep with many of his co-stars while working as an actor in hollywood so it is very hypocritical for the reagan worshipping conservatives to negatively focus on Trump’s history with women while at the same time ignoring the fact that their idol and consensual choice for GOAT president’s near identical record with women.

  26. DNW Says:

    She looks quite 80’s in the top photo; what with that post hippie-chick, bra-less, torn jeans chic. A picnic basket and a beach towel would go well as accoutrements.

    As for her bulbous friend, I guess that some women believe that no matter how grotesque their physiques become, nor how absurd is their pouring their sagging flab into garb meant for women 3 decades at least younger, it can all be made up for with nail polish and an aggressively insouciant attitude…. and to hell with the seven deadly sins.

    Body positivity or something.

    Or maybe it’s just that you cannot buy a good flowered ankle and elbow length dress and straw hat nowadays.

  27. DNW Says:

    The rather more modest Aunt “Bee”

  28. Dave Says:

    Michelle Obama is considered beautiful on because she is Barry’s wife and a former FLOTUS, if she was an normal unknown person you wouldn’t give her a second look if you pass her by in a walmart.

  29. Dave Says:

    The first question i usually ask myself when judging the beauty of a celebrity is if I would still think that person is beautiful if she is completely not famous, unknown, and being just some random person i come across on the street. truth be told many celebs like Emma Stone or Reese Witherspoon or even jennifer Lawrence are just really average looking individuals you wouldn’t think much of them if they weren’t famous. just bc you got lucky being picked to play a famous role in a famous movie because you fit the part perfectly doesn’t necessary means you are beautiful.

  30. Mac Says:

    A sort of converse to that: I worked on a college campus for many years and it was not unusual to see girls who were every bit as beautiful as some of the stars. I can think of one right now whom I know slightly and I think if I posted a picture of her you’d agree. But it takes a lot more than beauty and luck to become a film or tv star. In recent years I’ve come to a much greater appreciation of the skill involved in acting. Not to mention hard work. After all that comes the role of luck.

  31. Mike K Says:

    Michelle Obama can wear what she wants when traveling in Europe or Tahiti or wherever her rich friends invite her. The problem was that they were visiting the cathedral in Sienna and that suggests a bit of modesty would be in order. Now, I have seen American tourists in shorts and gaudy outfits while on vacation but they were not exactly models of decorum.

    I have been in that cathedral and can’t recall anyone dressed as badly as she was on the visit.

  32. vanderleun Says:

    Well, as long as her wife likes the way she looks what do the rest of us care?

  33. Nobody Atall Says:

    Michelle is not attractive, though she could be moreso with proper fashion sense. Since before her husband ran for pres, she has had the financial and social resources to dress better. Instead she chooses teenage baloney couture like these inappropriate blouses and pedal pushers. Remember the mini-sweaters and the giant belts she used to wear? Made her look like a cow busting out of the garments. Not everyone can wear everything. Michelle should have better advisers, but that does not seem to be a common trait in her little world.

  34. Bill Says:

    Well, Dave, the Reagan era in the GOP is definitely over.

  35. DNW Says:

    Just so the point is clear, my comment about Michelle Obama, was meant to be descriptive and mildly complimentary, not negative.

    If it lacked some tone of respect or decorum, seemed overly familiar, that is because it doesn’t seem to me that she is standing on any kind of formality herself. Just operating as another chick crossing the square in warm-weather attire. And that’s fine with me.

    For some reason, the image of her reminds me of Sally Fields, in a kinda cute, kinda sexy, … but I’ll-take-a-pass-myself, kinda way.

    Maybe Sally Fields used to go around in shoulder baring, bosom emphasizing tank tops, or something. And that is very much Ok with me too, in general.

    Now, the friend, she is a different matter.

  36. MissJean Says:

    That one-shoulder-on-the-other-off blouse and ripped jeans are very popular among middle-aged women in the UK. I noticed the style in Canadian mags and, sadly, among photos of survivors of the Manchester massacre.

  37. Ann Says:

    Apparently she values her mother’s down-to-earth approach to raising kids, but that is not what she tried to bring to young black women. Instead she went into the whole garden, nutrtion, school lunch thing but forgot to tell girls that they should learn to cook for their kids.

    She did add home-cooking to her efforts — from 2014, “Michelle Obama moves into the kitchen to fight obesity”

  38. J.J. Says:

    expat: “She is not too smart and certainly not a deep thinker.”

    True dat! She has the desire to be somebody, but has little idea of how to actually do it. More reason to have a bit of pity for her.

  39. Nick Says:

    It’s not her job to look good to me or dress the way I’d like her to. She, like every other woman in the world, has no interest in my opinion about her appearance. It is her job, though, to dress properly for entering a church. I don’t think she’s trying to destroy Western culture by dressing that way; she just lives in thoughtless times.

  40. DNW Says:


    I’ve been thinking about the smart-assed comments I made, and even though my remarks about Michelle Obama herself were not negative in ordinary secular terms, the entire contribution was worthless and unnecessary.

    Feel free, encouraged even, to wipe them out.



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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.

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