Skirting the Truth

US First Lady Michelle Obama joined Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, among others yesterday to unveil a statue of abolitionist and womens' rights activitst Sojourner Truth in the National Visitor Center yesterday.

This upbeat occasion captures the essence of Mrs. Obama's style; she's in a striking shirtdress by young French designer Sophie Theallat.
(The price of the dress, $2,000; no J. Crew this time.)And on her feet, black ballerinas!

A woman in a dress looks so much more current than a woman in a pantsuit. Look at her above, compared to the '80s pantsuit-twins, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton. Mrs. Clinton wore an unusual, gorgeous tangerine shade that in fact would look better against Mrs. Obama's darker skin.

Here's a good look at Mrs Obama's frock; I can almost hear Hillary thinking, "Dang! Gotta get me a dress!"


Anonymous said…
No dress with those cankles!?!
Duchesse said…
I don't have slim ankles either but think covering up body parts because they are not perfect is a form of tyranny and loathing we impose on ourselves. If the skirt has some fullness, and is not too short, she will be alright and look more up to date. By the way, Anonymous, how are Pelosi's legs?
Glove Slap said…
Ha ha! I can NEVER imagine Hillary saying, "Dang!" I hope someday I can be so dignified!
The question of whether I should cover a part of myself that's not my favorite (i.e. my legs) is one hotly debated with my mother, especially as summer nears.
I've often read that elegant women know how to "play up/down" features that are their best/not so great". I think knowing which of your features is not your favorite is not the same as condemning it or disliking yourself. The nice thing about being older is having this kind of distance.
The picture also make me think about claims that stylists have been trying to "soften" Michelle's style, and I wonder if she might not often prefer to wear comfy pants suits like Hil. I've noticed Michelle's "tall girl slouch".
The Clever Pup said…
Michelle looks fabulous. Thanks for sharing.
Susan B said…
With Michelle Obama's height, she can carry the full skirt. It would make Hillary look squat.

I'm open to the *idea* of a dress, certainly, but trying to find one a) with at least an elbow-length sleeve and b) that is cut for my short-waisted self (perferably princess seaming, no belt/tie) has proven to be an almost impossible quest.
Duchesse said…
Glove Slap: Well said about :having this kind of distance". I can't imagine Mrs O in a corporate pants suit, which says a lot about how her dress-and-skirt image has becme "her" so quickly.

Pseu: See what you mean. Perhaps an A-line dress with princess seams to play down her bust? She will still need some flare, if not volume at hem. But, gah! those pant suits are over (and I wore a TON of them!)
lagatta à montréal said…
Trousers look more modern if they aren't identical to the jacket on top, and a softer styling (une femme d'un certain âge has a nice pictorial about a Parisienne (des beaux quartiers) on her site).

Do professional women in the US tend to wear overly loud colours, or is it to be more visible in mass media (kind of like da Queen)?

I don't see why trouser suits are necessarily more comfortable than a dress - Michelle's dresses don't usually look stiff or constricting.

Tights/pantyhose are much less uncomfortable than they were several decades ago because they now incorporate lycra.

Skirts can have movement and fullness through gores or other cutting techniques without being too voluminous for short women.

There is nothing to do about the fact that Ms Obama is younger and much, much taller than Clinton or Pelosi. She is even taller than Carla Bruni (Sarkozy) who was a professional model.
LJ said…
It's so funny, I was thinking the same thing about Nancy Pelosi's pantsuit right before I read your comment. That purple/grey color is very dated. How nice Mrs. Obama looks. J Crew should do a makeover for Hillary!
Duchesse said…
lagatta: Yes, the unmatched suit is fresher, but supposed Mrs Clinton, being short, was warned off it, so resorts to all one colour. A dress for a petite woman is certainly achievable.

The colour preference is partly regional; women in the southern US and sunbelt wear more colour, partly because of the light and heat.

Leah: J Crew for Hillary, what a concept. Maybe she, not slim like Mrs Obama, has the same trouble I do with their clothes- I can only fit into the tops.
sisty said…
Mrs. Obama is not what I'd call "slim" either, though she's slimmer than Hil and Nancy. Michelle is a big woman in every way -- big hips, tall, not overweight, but, as the French say, formidable!

I saw that very dress when I was in NY this weekend, but in white. Needless to say, at that price, I didn't try it on. But I think a full skirt if balanced by a well-fitted top would look good on practically everyone. Very feminine. Maybe too feminine for the kind of political dogfights Nancy and Hil have to endure -- their job is much harder than Michelle's.
lady jicky said…
Michelle looks good because she has height.
the other two are too "matchy , matchy poo poo" which is dated .
Mardel said…
I agree that the pantsuits look dated and think Hillary could pull of a dress, even with a bit of fullness to the skirt if it were tailored to fit her. We give in too much to the tyranny of what we are told looks "best" for our "type". Sorry Duchesse, I borrowed your word, but really it is perfect.
Duchesse said…
mardel; I wonder if they are dated because Nancy Pelosi, 69, and Hillary Clinton, 66 are of another generation than Michelle Obama, 45. Pelosi, in her softly tailored Armani, had a reputation as the embodiment of tasteful power dressing. Remember Hillary's "uniform" of black pantsuits during her first Senate campaign?

Sisty: Good point, she is not slim but a different body type. I recall when Mrs Clinton WAS First Lady, with (as you assert) the easier job, she wore those girlish velvet headbands and quite dull clothes.
Michelle Obama looks great - she really styles herself well, very youthful but still appropriate.
sisty said…
I've got very mixed feelings about the whole subject, and I think it is because of the generational differences. I'm a lawyer and I remember when judges would not allow women wearing pants to appear in the courtroom. Women fought hard for those pantsuits!

And as for the "uniform" observation -- "uniforms" have always been de rigeur for men, so why not for women?

Of course, I'm telling myself to lighten up, because this is a fashion site after all, and we're having fun....and yes, Michelle does look fresher somehow, doesn't she? :)
LJ said…
I was actually thinking of softer tops for Hillary. I know she had trouble with the "cleavage" that she "showed" on the Senate floor but she may take a cue from Michelle Obama and wear some softer, more feminine tops.
Duchesse said…
Sisty: Though not a lawyer, I recall the fight for pants, too, and how au courant I felt in my first pantsuit in corporate life. But times change, and I still find the ceaseless pantsuit dated. It's true, no one ever knocks men for wearing "a suit, again"!

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