Michelle Obama’s Fashion Parade

Something old, something new — nothing borrowed, but again Jason Wu.

That could describe First Lady Michelle Obama’s wardrobe for the Inaugural Weekend festivities, which she capped by stepping out at the two inaugural balls Monday night in a custom gown by the designer she catapulted to fame four years ago: Wu. She accessorized it with a handmade diamond ring by Kimberly McDonald and shoes by Jimmy Choo.

This story first appeared in the January 22, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Of his second stint in the inaugural ball spotlight, an ecstatic Wu told WWD he was as shocked as anyone and just as nervous as last time. “Mrs. Obama likes to keep her secrets. She surprised me again. She’s really good at it,” he said. “I was so nervous. You’d think I wouldn’t be since I’d experienced it before but I really was.”

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Unlike four years ago when he had three employees and was home with a friend eating pizza, this time around Wu was surrounded with his team of 30 in his airy downtown design studio. “I was just elated. It’s hard to describe,” he said.

The ruby-red custom woven faille coupé gown has a white gold ring with pavé diamonds at the collarbone thanks to McDonald. Wu said of the gown, which will be donated to the National Archives, “Like last time, I had to go with my gut. I instinctively had to think of the woman in the dress. After four years in office, I thought the country was ready to see a confident First Lady in red. It just felt right.”

Running to answer his parents’ phone call, Wu said he would soon be ordering in Champagne for his staffers. The night was still young — there was work to be done. “Fall’s coming up — you know that,” he said.

The Wu gown was only one of a string of ensembles the First Lady wore all weekend as she time and again brought her A-game, sporting an assortment of predominantly American designers, including a few unexpected labels. Like the President, who donned the same Brooks Brothers cashmere coat he wore for the 2009 Inaugural, the First Lady wasn’t afraid to repeat a few looks she’d been photographed in before. On Saturday night she chose a 2011 pre-spring white Alexander McQueen jacket and Sunday night called for a 2009 Michael Kors black sequined dress. But for the rest of the festivities, the First Lady went all out, wearing a host of one-of-a-kind designs made specifically for her by New York-based designers.

By 9 a.m. Monday, fashion insiders were excitedly texting and e-mailing her choice of a specially created navy silk tie jacquard Thom Browne ensemble for a prayer and church service, which she also wore to the swearing-in ceremony outside the Capitol. Even Browne, who was in Paris having just presented his men’s collection Sunday, was caught blindsided, getting the news via texts and e-mails from TV-viewing friends in New York. Champagne corks would fly later in the day at his hotel, once Browne had a chance to get used to what he described as “amazing and one of the most humbling moments of his career.” It will no doubt be a major boost for his women’s wear business, which has been generating buzz lately. (With Monday’s TV audience in the millions, more noise about the brand is a given.)

Taking the safe bet that the President would wear a navy suit, which he did, the designer selected a color that would enhance the Commander in Chief’s look. Browne opted for a silk tie jacquard material that was initially developed for his men’s collection. But he also wanted to play up the First Lady’s signature strength, which he’d seen up close last summer after meeting her at a White House luncheon she hosted for National Design Award honorees. Clear-sighted as he was about how the outfit’s color and fabric’s structure would convey the strength, style and confidence the First Lady embodies, seeing his vision through was no small feat. “It is such another level to get something perfect so that she feels really great, comfortable, confident and fashionable,” he said. “She is such an amazingly strong woman who looks good in everything she wears.”

Reed Krakoff was an unprecedented “three-peat” winner, having designed the ultramarine abstract wash print sheath dress and cashmere sweater Obama wore to her husband’s official swearing-in ceremony Sunday morning in the Blue Room. Krakoff also designed the customized blue suede boots she sported outside the Capitol Monday for the ceremonial swearing-in. And she broke out the cashmere cardigan for the second time in 24 hours, wearing it to the Capitol luncheon Monday afternoon. Having launched his signature collection less than three years ago, Krakoff, who is also president and executive creative director of Coach Inc., sounded all-American, making a point of saying more than once that the First Lady’s outfit was made in his West 34th Street atelier in New York. None of the seamstresses knew who it was being made for. “More than anything, what this gives us is a sense of purpose that what we’re doing is on the right track,” he said. “It will long outlive the moment but at the same time we are incredibly honored.”

Krakoff said the color of the historic interior of the first event was “a happy coincidence” and the design concept was driven more by the First Lady’s sense of style than the room. He, too, focused on the fact that she is a “strong, confident, modern woman. She knows what she likes and what works for her and that’s what makes a style icon,” he said. “She very much embraces fashion but in a way that works for her.”

So much so that she took the liberty of changing out of her J. Crew Valentina heels after Monday’s prayer service and adding a J. Crew black beaded belt to her Thom Browne coat in time for the descent down the Capitol steps. Her 14-year-old daughter Malia was also J. Crew’ed out from head to toe and no one was more excited about that than the retailer’s chief, Millard “Mickey” Drexler. “There have been lots of exclamation points and e-mails all in big giant block letters,” said creative director Jenna Lyons.

While more than 15 designers had to sweat out the wait to see whether the First Lady would choose their customized pieces, J. Crew maintained its position as a First Family favorite by simply being there: The Obamas didn’t phone in any favors or special requests. “As far as we know, they literally ordered online and they shop like anyone else in America,” Lyons said.

As for the DIY belt, Lyons said, “I love that she dresses in a way that says, ‘This is the way I want to be.’ I think it looks great — I hope Thom is all right with it.”

The entire weekend was a parade of American designs and other fashion rarely seen outside of New York Fashion Week and seldom seen in Washington. Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Jill, wore a cerulean blue silk column gown by Vera Wang to Monday night’s two official inaugural balls. Beyoncé wore an Emilio Pucci black velvet and chiffon beaded cutout long-sleeve gown to sing the National Anthem outside the Capitol Monday. Jill Biden also went with a gray silk coat and three-dimensional organza embroidered dress by Lela Rose. The Obamas’ 11-year-old daughter Sasha sported a Kate Spade coat, providing one of the few shots of color in a crowd wearing mostly safe shades like black and blue. The President’s brother-in-law Craig Robinson was another standout in a fluorescent orange and black striped scarf and matching tie — not exactly an Aretha Franklin-worthy hat moment circa 2009 but singular just the same.

By nightfall, Tommy Hilfiger suited up “Glee” cast member Darren Criss in a midnight blue tuxedo from his spring tailored collection. Kors sent actress Kerry Washington to The Daily Beast’s bipartisan brunch Sunday in a “cashgora” shift with cap sleeves. Wang, who designed the wedding dress Biden’s daughter Ashley wore at her nuptials last summer, turned up at Monday night’s two official inaugural balls in a sleeveless black lace gown with a black and white floral peplum she designed for herself. Marchesa’s Georgina Chapman and her husband, Harvey Weinstein, also planned to party with the President. More than 4,000 well-wishers were expected at the Commander in Chief’s ball, the Obamas’ first stop of the night, and 35,000 more were lined up for the inaugural ball, both of which were being held at the 700,000-square-foot Washington Convention Center.

However many times the President has promised transparency in his administration, the First Lady and her inner circle held tight to her inaugural wardrobe choices as if they were the most heavily guarded state secret — just as they did four years ago in order to lessen the focus on and perhaps potential criticism of Michelle Obama as a plate. As has believed to have been the case during the administration’s first term, designers who dress the First Lady for major appearances do not know of their good fortune until she is photographed or televised in their clothes.

After parting ways with Ikram Goldman, the Chicago boutique owner who had been her go-to stylist, the First Lady turned to Meredith Koop as her in-house stylist. The fact that Koop, a thirtysomething Vanderbilt grad and former sorority sister, ascended from Goldman’s onetime prodigy to a permanent White House confidante was not lost on the Beltway media, which reported an “All About Eve” situation underfoot. Goldman did not respond to requests for an interview and the First Lady’s press team said Koop would not be available to discuss her role.

“From the beginning of the administration, Ms. Koop has served Mrs. Obama as her personal aide, a well-established staff position through which First Ladies are supported in managing the residence and the needs of the First Family,” said a White House official. “Ms. Koop’s responsibilities include advising the first lady on her wardrobe and acting on her behalf in arranging for purchases,” a White House spokeswoman said via e-mail.

Asked to clarify how the First Lady’s clothing for formal occasions is paid for, and whether designers are paid wholesale or retail prices, Semonti Stephens, deputy communications director for the First Lady, said via e-mail Sunday, “I can’t go into the private details of Mrs. Obama’s life and that includes precise details for her clothing choices.”

A few designers who have dressed the First Lady in previous years said off-the-record that the pricing was up for negotiation and they were usually wholesale ones or even greater. One insider described them as “severely discounted.” Skittish as they were to discuss the details of dressing the First Lady, several designers indicated that the privilege and no doubt the publicity made their efforts worthwhile.

But while Michelle Obama has boosted the careers of many American designers by wearing their clothes, she hasn’t exactly embraced the New York fashion world with open arms. She has eagerly attended private fund-raising events hosted by the likes of Anna Wintour and Sarah Jessica Parker, drawing such designers as Tory Burch, Michael Kors and Narciso Rodriguez. And a battery of designers including Marc Jacobs, Derek Lam and Tracy Reese designed one-offs for the Runway to Win effort, which helped raise money for the President’s reelection campaign.

The First Lady has yet to attend New York Fashion Week or any other public fashion event, though, including the CFDA Awards. She accepted her special tribute award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America at the 2009 event via video. She also continues to draw criticism for failing to don clothes by the likes of Oscar de la Renta. CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg and de la Renta aired their disappointment publicly when the First Lady wore a red Alexander McQueen gown for the 2011 state dinner in honor of Chinese President Hu Jintao.

It remains to be seen whether the First Lady’s ties to the fashion industry will continue along for appearances only over the next four years. Regardless, she still has the Midas touch. After wearing Wu’s ethereal white one-shoulder gown at the inaugural balls four years ago, his company’s Web site received four million hits and his company skyrocketed. In his seventh year in business, the Taiwanese designer now sells his collection in 190 doors in 39 countries. This time around, by 10 p.m., Wu’s Web site crashed from all the new interest.

Michelle Obama reveals husband wore same tuxedo for eight years but no one noticed

Barack Obama’s dress sense was neither adventurous nor outlandish but it still garnered its fair share of admirers. Dubbed the most well-dressed President since John F Kennedy, Mr Obama arguably knew how to dress for every occasion.

While he was comfortable donning a classic black tuxedo for formal galas, he was equally comfortable in his infamous “mom jeans” and windbreakers for downtime. Sported on the 2008 campaign trail and at an MLB All-Star Game, the loose-fitting, stonewashed 80’s style jeans were something of a signature look for the Chicago native.

Nevertheless, it has now emerged Mr Obama was putting in less time and energy than it appeared into his aesthetic. Michelle Obama has revealed her husband liked his tuxedo jacket so much he wore it for the eight whole years of his presidency.

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The former First Lady explained that while her outfits were scrupulously scrutinised at all times, her husband managed to get away with wearing the same suit jacket for both terms in the White House.

“This is the unfair thing – you talk about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers – no matter what we do, he puts on that same tux,” Ms Obama explained during an appearance at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference on Tuesday.

“Now, people take pictures of the shoes I wear, the bracelets, the necklace – they didn’t comment that for eight years he wore the same tux, same shoes.”

Shape Created with Sketch. Michelle Obama as the First Lady

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“And he was proud of it too. He’s like, ‘Mmm, I’m ready. I’m ready in 10 minutes. How long did it take you?’ I’m like, ‘Get out of here.’”

Ms Obama, who was called a style icon and a taste-maker during her time as First Lady, also revealed the anecdote behind the somewhat iconic photo of her gently altering Mr Obama’s bow tie just before he greeted Chinese President Xi Jinping and wife Peng Liyuan at the White House during a state visit in September 2015.

“We walk and in front of us are about 100 press people,” she recalled.

“So we’re standing there waiting for the cars to roll in and I was bored. So I sort of thought, let me make sure my husband looks good”.

Mr Obama has been equally as adored for his dress sense since leaving the White House in January, with many heaping praise on his backwards baseball hat on holiday and his brown leather jacket leaving the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

Reflecting upon life after he left the White House last May, he said: “I can wear my mom jeans in peace. I hate these tight jeans.”

Michelle Obama. Photo: TOSC/ToscanaPhotos / BACKGRID

The ever-polished Michelle Obama stepped out this weekend in Montalcino, Italy, and gave us the best inspiration for a vacation style to steal for the summer. The former First Lady wore a pink one-shoulder shirt from Teija, a Finnish designer who trained under Christoper Bailey at Burberry before creating her own label. The shirt added a playful note to Michelle’s post–White House wardrobe, which has largely consisted of tea-length dresses and cashmere cardigans. She complemented the look with cropped white jeans, simple flat sandals, and gold hoops.

This chic top is the perfect piece to wear all summer: It will transition from a walk in the park to a rooftop party, and if Michelle is wearing it, do you really need any other stamp of approval? Here’s where to get it (and a few similar versions):

Romwe Top

Taking a hint from the ruched bow of Michelle’s shirt, this one comes in a nautical stripe and has a bow tie that hits right above the waist. It’ll look great with high-waisted jeans.

Miss Selfridge Top

Frills are very in this season, so hit two birds with one stone with this shirt, which is only $59 (and selling out fast).

Georgia Alice Top

If you like this trend but find it hard for the top to stay up because of a bigger chest size, consider this one from Georgia Alice. It has drawstrings all over to cinch as tight as you need, so you won’t have any spillover when you bend down.

Tibi Top

This is more of a minimalist take on the trend if you’re into the less-is-more strategy for style. The angle of the neckline is precise and angular, and the slim fit of the shirt is cut to be symmetric instead of flowy like the others.

Teija Top

This is the actual top Michelle is wearing, and it’s already selling out in most sizes despite the $397 price tag.

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Michelle Obama’s Pretty Pink Dress Is Flattering On Every Body Type

Michelle Obama has been nothing short of inspirational over the past eight years. From her heroic speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention to her valiant championing of gender equality and female empowerment to her love story with President Obama, the former First Lady is the epitome of goals. While her political endeavors are hugely important, we’re also big fans of her expertise in another area: her wardrobe, of course. From her iconic Inaugural Ball gowns (both by Jason Wu) to her penchant for modern looks from up-and-coming designers, her masterful approach to style is second to none. And while we miss seeing her on the daily, we know she’ll continue to top our best-dressed lists for years to come.

Her most recent look is a case in point—a whimsical floral-print midi-length frock by Tanya Taylor that’s ideal for any body type. The V-neckline and cinched waist are figure-flattering while the long sleeves are ideal for those who are conscious of their arms. Here, see (and shop!) the versatile dress, plus peruse our favorite fashion moments from one of the most incredible First Ladies of all time.

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In A Tanya Taylor Dress With Simone Rocha Earrings And Jimmy Choo Heels

At the Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s TogetHER conference, 2017

Tanya Taylor Caro Dress, $575

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With An Alexander Wang Tote

In New York City, 2017

Shop Mrs. Obama’s Alexander Wang bag here.

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In Narciso Rodriguez

January 6, 2017

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In Gucci

December 4, 2016

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In A Black Turtleneck And Beaded Dress

December 1, 2016

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November 7, 2016

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In Atelier Versace

October 18, 2016

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In A Blue Dress

September 28, 2016

In Self-Portrait

September 19, 2016

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In Naeem Khan

September 17, 2016

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In Brandon Maxwell

August 2, 2016

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In Preen

July 1, 2016

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In Proenza Schouler

June 28, 2016

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In Hugo Boss

June 14, 2016

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April 22, 2016

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March 23, 2016

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In 3.1 Phillip Lim

March 16, 2016

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In Jason Wu

March 10, 2016

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January 12, 2016

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In Vera Wang

September 25, 2015

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In Missoni

June 18, 2015

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In Duro Olowu

June 17, 2015

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In Mary Katrantzou

June 16, 2015

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In Thakoon

April 30, 2015

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In Zac Posen

March 28, 2015

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In Roksanda

March 22, 2015

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In A Floral Dress

January 26, 2015

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In A Black And Gold Metallic Dress

December 14, 2014

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In Bibhu Mohapatra

September 27, 2014

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August 27, 2013

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January 21, 2013

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In Thom Browne

January 21, 2013

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In Barbara Tfank

May 2011

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In Tom Ford

The Obama’s dine at the Buckingham Palace in May 2011

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January 20, 2009

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Six Style Secrets from the First Lady

The First Lady is not afraid to wear a piece or even an entire head-to-toe look more than once in public, and you shouldn’t be fearful of such acts either. Shopping in one’s own closet has long been a secret of savvy fashionistas, but it is even more enticing in light of our current economy. Read on to learn how you too can skillfully mix and match pieces you already own like Mrs. O to extend the life of your wardrobe without spending a single penny.

To Everything There is a Season

Rethink your seasonless clothing and layer, layer, layer. Many of us were raised to stow away spring/summer clothes in the fall and put away fall/winter clothes in the spring. But Mrs. Obama has taught us that this is no longer necessary. Items that you’ve been reserving for cooler months can work now in the dead of summer with the right manipulation. Distressed boots with cut-off shorts and cardigans over sundresses for chilly nights are effective ways to pull this off.

Everything Old is New Again

Fashion is cyclical. Why not pull out pieces that you haven’t worn in years and put them back into rotation? Wearing these items is nostalgic and adds some personality to a look. Always keep items that are classic (like a trench coat, pencil skirt or pearl necklace) because they are guaranteed to be more interesting as they get older.

Back It Up

Most of us are over-consumers. We have more than we realize, even those of us who are struggling financially. Go to the back of your closet and dresser drawer to re-evaluate what you own. We guarantee you’ll find at least one item you can add to the wardrobe rotation that you had forgotten about and at least one other thing you can donate to folks who really don’t have what they need.

Remix What You Have

Go to the tailor and make your favorite dress that is now a little too snug in the hip area a top. Cut a pair of jeans at mid-calf and wear them with knee-length boots in the fall. Wear your favorite adjustable waist skirt as a dress over a turtleneck in the winter. Break up a suit or twinset like Mrs. O-it’s okay to wear that blazer or cardigan with jeans instead of the skirt you purchased it with every now and then. Switch out the belt of your favorite dress or coat for one that is a completely different color or texture.

Host a Swap Party

Folks have been raving about swap parties for a few years, so why not plan a fiesta like this on your own? Everyone brings a designated number of items to the party at a set retail value and the attendees then swap items that they no longer want or need for someone else’s. When done correctly, everyone leaves happy, no one has spent any money and it is a great way to declutter!

Mix It Up

Don’t be afraid to wear something spanking-new with something that has been in your closet for multiple seasons. There is no need to wear a brand-new head-to-toe look for every special occasion. As the First Lady has demonstrated, intermingling old and new items can be both fun and fashionable. Plus, you’re less likely to see anyone wearing your exact outfit at the next barbecue if you take heed to this tip.

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How to Dress for Your First Lady Body Type

For many years, the First Lady of the United States has dressed with elegance and class. She is held to a higher standard in each outfit she wears; the public expects her to always look her best. In order to do this, the first lady must learn to dress to flatter her body type. Most women can complement their silhouette by following a few simple rules based on their body shape. The four body types are ruler, pear, apple and hourglass.

Jackie Kennedy (Getty)

You have a ruler body shape if your figure is slender and evenly proportioned. In the silhouette of a ruler body shape, the smallest part of the frame is the natural waist-line. Jacqueline Kennedy, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, along with Grace Coolidge, all have this body shape. One popular garment which flatters this silhouette is the stylish sack dress. Dresses which have no seaming throughout the body or simply seaming at the natural waist-line, creating an hourglass shape, are ideal for the ruler body type. For more casual dress, rulers should wear jeans with pocket flaps in the back to give the impression of more shape. Adding filmy fabric to your top, similar to styles worn by Jackie Kennedy, are also best for softening an angular frame.

A pear shape is defined by having a curvy lower half, with a smaller chest and the smallest part of your waist falling just below the bust-line. Michelle Obama carries this shape and almost always flawlessly dresses for this body type. Hillary Clinton also has a definite pear shape. Pear shapes should wear empire-waist dresses, with the seaming below the bust-line, accentuating the smallest part of the waist. Sack dresses can also be worn with a slightly thick belt fastened just under the bust. Dresses or skirts should mainly be A-line, which hug the waist, skim the hips and then end just below the knee. Wider and deeper necklines are also perfect for broadening the shoulders.

Michelle Obama (Getty)

If you are apple shaped, like Barbara Bush, your waist, bust and shoulders are the widest part of your body and you have generally smaller hips and thighs. Apple shapes should avoid wearing multiple colors and try to stick with one, camouflaging the waist and lengthening the body. Smaller, circle necklines or turtlenecks will also deemphasize the size of the upper body. Avoid tailored clothing, especially if the garment accentuates the waist or bust. Pencil skirts are beautiful on apple silhouettes and also highly in style now. Sack dresses are also able to be worn with a belt slung across the hip.

Laura Bush (Reeder)

The hourglass, often seen as the “ideal” body shape, is characterized by a silhouette in which the shoulders and hips are about the same size, with a defined waist-line, parallel to the shapes of Mamie Eisenhower and Laura Bush. The main focus of dressing an hourglass body shape is to emphasize the waist without adding bulk. Fitted clothing or soft fabric which clings to the body is perfect for this frame. Belts should be worn at the natural waist-line and jeans and slacks should be straight-leg or gently flared. Hourglass body types need to avoid high necklines, baggy styles and bulky fabric, which will disguise the look of the hourglass frame.

Which first lady has your shape?

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