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First-Lady of Fashion

Michelle Obama Taps into the Political Power of Style

During each woman’s four to eight years in the public eye, whether seen accompanying their husbands to various functions or carrying out their duties as official hostess of the white-house, some first-ladies develop somewhat of an aversion towards fashion. Their presence is often seen but seldom heard, giving them the unique opportunity to use fashion as a vehicle to drive their point across without actually saying anything. Instead of taking advantage of this pedestal, first-ladies since the days of the revered Jackie O, have veered towards the safe side of personal style. Dull and uninspiring in skirt-suits accessorized with single strands of pearls, they feared dressing otherwise would have take away from their credibility and commitment to serious causes. 

There is an entire psychology behind the application of certain styles and specific colors as means to convey positive vibes to voters. It is a mechanism previously untapped in the political sphere that current first-lady Michelle Obama, 47, wants to explore. Mrs. Obama’s attentiveness to fashion does not make her any more politically inept than the first-ladies who came before her, in fact, her dedication to utilizing fashion as a form of communication further expands her voice of influence. 
During the four years in which her husband, Barack Obama, has been president, she has helped lead the fight against childhood obesity by starting a foundation called “Let’s Move!”, a charitable cause that she wordlessly promotes through her devotion to athletic pieces and comfy basics. In 2009 she wore hiking shorts to disembark Air Force One. A bold choice on her part, the casualty of her look symbolized the relaxation of American policies. When she showed up to her first day in office dressed in a lemon-sherbet-colored shift dress by Isabel Toledo, Michelle expressed to the world her hopeful outlook for the term ahead. 

Her influence on the fashion industry has been more of a ripple than a splash, but significant nonetheless. Whenever she dons J. Crew at a public appearance, the company’s stock prices appreciate in anticipation of the supplemental influx in sales. Her sartorial selections have put at least two previously unknown designers, Jason Wu and Thakoon Panichgul, on the map.  
As part of her job description, Obama is to stay in touch with current affairs from around the world. She uses fashion to symbolize her connection with the American society at large. As the first-lady, she must consider the economy of the nation before getting dressed and remain sensitive to the fact that many citizens are living on a day-to-day income. Keeping this in mind, her daywear generally consists of affordable pieces (mostly by American designers) so that the average American woman may replicate her style. Unlike Obama, first-ladies in the past, most notably Jackie Kennedy, have attired themselves in upscale designer pieces. While the first-lady can certainly afford to do so, it is important to keep in mind the message that a three of four figure price tag can send to voters. By dressing in high-street contemporary brands like J. Crew, Target, and Gap, she proves to Americans that she is a relatable woman who knows how to shop on a budget. 

That’s not to say that she doesn’t appreciate glamour on occasion. Michelle has had a few spellbinding moments in fashion that live up to her renowned position as a so-called style icon. Remember the jaw-dropping, one shouldered gown designed by Jason Wu that she wore to her husband’s inauguration ball? A trip to its current reside at the Smithsonian Institution in D.C. shows just how monumental it was when compared to past inaugural gowns of the stuffy, traditional variety. 
Taking a page from Kennedy herself, Obama loves flattering her toned arms. While the eternally elegant Kennedy preferred to outfit her arms with a pair of long white gloves, a mainstay in the early ‘60s, Obama flaunts her athleticism in a vast array of sportswear, further inspiring children and families to get outside and exercise. 
Women in politics generally follow the popular myth that one must dress in a masculine style in order to be taken seriously. Women’s fashion is too much of a risk to their career as flare can lead to controversy.  Obama appeared on the scene at exactly the right time to help show women that prints and color can be just as appropriate in politics as in any other profession. 
Whether she is dressing for the inaugural ceremony (Jason Wu), a White House dinner (Peter Soronen for her first), or meeting the Queen of England (Isabel Toledo and Jason Wu), she presents herself with class and poise. For a woman who “loves clothes,” and encourages all women to “wear what makes them happy and what makes them feel comfortable,” to be in her position, it provides female politicians an outlet to communicate with the general public through subconscious messages of a positive future. 

City of Stars

I have no idea why, but I always seem to run into celebrities on the streets of New York. I promise I'm really not a (total)  stalker- maybe it's just that I'm out and about in the city a good portion of the day, but whatever it is I always seem to catch some of my favorite models, actors, ect. downtown. 

New Yorkers are very proud of their blase attitude towards stars, and normally I don't want to bother them either, but when someone I am as obsessed with as Matt Bomer or Karlie Kloss passes by, I just can't pass up the opportunity to meet them! Luckily they've all been super nice about it and willing to take a photo or even chat for a few minutes about whatever it is we are both doing (the coffee at Odessa, growing up as "all American girls," their outfits...) no one went all Blake Lively on me this summer. 

A look at a few of the faces I've seen since I officially moved to the city a month and a half ago:

Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay outside filming the next season of White Collar.

The flying tomato//Sean White at the CFDA awards (flashbacks to his scene with Justin Timberlake in  Friends with Benefits) 

Karlie Kloss on 5th Avenue! She was the sweetest- her sister had just gone off into some store so she was just kind of hanging out near Cartier (where she had "just gotten married... to myself") and stood outside talking to me for a good twenty minutes about everything from living in the South to the latest iPhone. We even found out we had mutual friends. That's right, I have mutual friends with Karlie Kloss. No. Big. Deal.

(cute shot right... :/)
Jessica Chastain. She is a fairy princess. 
Flashbacks to my photo with Miranda Kerr. Ughhhhhh.

Kaylee DeFer (Ivy on Gossip Girl) was probably the weirdest encounter yet. She wandered into this little cafe on the Lower East Side that my friends and I were having coffee with around 4 AM looking for ice and bandaids as apparently she had just witnessed someone get hit by a car outside. I'm still not really sure what was going on, but at least I was able to make good on my promise to my out of town friends to help them meet someone they'd seen on TV. 

Brad! He is just so adorable all of the time. 

also, Adam Levine is filming a movie in downtown New York for the next few weeks and I have made it my mission to meet him. They were even filming part of it on my on my street, and while it was fun to watch Kiera Knightly work (and her PERFECT posture, my gosh) this will clearly not suffice. 


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Caroline Mason: 21. Native New Yorker (and one time North Carolinian). Assistant to Derek Blasberg. Just a girl who is OCD about all things fashion, drinks way too much coffee, and has an affinity for late night talk shows and travel books. FIT class of 2016. Previously with Karla Otto PR, Lori Goldstein and Lester Garcia.

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