At the center of what many critics have called an overblown debate about the nationality of her wardrobe, Michelle Obama is making the rounds with the press this week to talk about that and the issues she really wants to talk about. At a lunch with reporters in the White House yesterday, the first lady — clad in a Marc Jacobs dress and silver pumps — said she wears what looks good, irrespective of label.
“I like to patronize American designers, and the vast majority of the clothes that I wear are [designed by Americans.] But there are a lot of other designers that have cute stuff, too,” Obama said. “I don't think that I’m any different from any other woman, other than the fact that people see what I wear and then they talk about it.”
If that's not a practical enough explanation, you know how else she picks out her clothes?
“It’s really just sort of, how cold is it? Do I have to stand outside, and what am I going to use to cover my arms if I’m freezing so I’m not shivering while I have to give a speech? It’s really stuff like that. And I know people are sort of thinking that it’s different, but it’s real practical stuff like that.”
Though she never reveals so much as a ruffled feather to the press, she suggested the criticism isn't entirely easy for her, as it wouldn't be for any woman. "I hope that women learn to wear what they love because that — I think that's one of the hardest things as women — is that you're always trying to catch up to somebody else’s vision of who you should be. And that's hard. It’s hard on us.”
On the Today show this morning, Michelle and her husband's style constituted a minimal end portion of a thirteen-minute segment. Host Matt Lauer first asked her about Egypt, her role in the reelection campaign, raising her kids in the White House, her initiative to fight child obesity, and how Barack Obama quit smoking. Then he made her look at side-by-side pictures of her husband's hair to show her why people thought he was dyeing it, which she says he's not. "He's pretty gray," she says. "It's lighting. I think if he had known he'd be president he'd have started dyeing his hair ten years ago." Lauer asked if he is vain. "Not at all," Michelle replied. "I wish that he would focus more on a different color suit, a new shirt. Sasha and Malia and I, we cheer when he puts on a different-colored shirt."
And finally addressing her own style for just a moment, she said of the attention paid to it, "I take it as a compliment." She was quick to add, "It's not something I focus on ... Everybody's got to get dressed in the morning and put on something. I hope people find it nice, but it's not something I focus on." Makes one of us.