The 'Desperate Housewife' look comes to Washington

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The presidential race may only just have come to an end, but the battle for fashion supremacy was sewn up months ago. Step forward Michelle Obama, who has wowed the fashion world with her sophisticated take on political dressing.

The look of America's first ladies has been reminiscent of the uptight Bree from Desperate Housewives – think boxy, coloured trouser and skirt suits, often in shantung silk. Nancy Reagan pioneered the neat skirt suit and Laura Bush followed her lead. Their look was a conflicting mix of submissive 1950s Stepford wife in pussy-bow blouse and 1980s businesswoman in shoulder-padded suit. But Mrs Obama has found a more modern way to dress that expresses her femininity.

One of her favourite silhouettes over the campaign has been the fitted sheath dress. She wore a purple version by Chicago-based designer Maria Pinto when her husband claimed the Democratic nomination, and a turquoise V-neck style by the same designer to the Democratic Convention.

In contrast to Laura Bush and her one-time rival Cindy McCain, Mrs Obama is au fait with many younger, more fashion-conscious labels like Thakoon and Azzedine Alaïa. Michelle chooses sophisticated jewel colours, while Cindy opted for garish shades that were intended to be gung ho and uplifting but were actually deeply unsettling. Remind you of anyone? In 2001, Hillary Clinton told a group of Yale students that "hair matters". Mrs Obama may not have heeded this advice directly, but her soft, Jackie O-style bob suggests approachability and intelligence. And her coiffure isn't the only way that Obama has been channelling Jackie O. Her shift dresses and chunky pearls all evoke the iconic first lady. Unlike Jackie O – or Sarah Palin – Mrs Obama has mixed her labels with items that the average voter could afford. The black and white dress that she wore on US talk show The View cost only $148 (£92) from the aptly named White House/Black Market.

One of the few things more exciting than an Obama presidency is what his wife will wear to the inaugural ball. Chances are that she will wear her patriotism on her sleeve by plumping for a US label.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - eCommerce - OTE £100k

£50000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning digital age...

Recruitment Genius: Training and Development Consultant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This software development organisation are loo...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable