Michelle Obama was last seen at the State of the Union address wearing a striking blue dress that stood apart from her much more subtly dressed counterparts. Given the attention that Obama has received over her garments, some wonder if her wardrobe could actually have political impact.
The Obamas have raised the eyes of fashionistas from the very first day that Barack Obama began to run for president. The President first became known for wearing extremely casual attire at the beginning of his election.
His casual look was no mistake, according to Cathy Horyn, The New York Times writer for On the Runway. She described Obama's working style during the 2008 elections as "clean, simple, neat-as-a-pin."
Tom Kalenderian, of Barneys, described President Obama's message as "almost monk-like," stating that his intention was to promote an open message. "He's not about belonging to someone else. It's about the lack of branding."
Fashion editor Robin Givhan for The Washington Post also refers to fashion gestures by many politicians who have attempted to gain the "blue collar" vote."
Consider the way in which politicians- at least the male ones – take off their suit jackets and roll up their sleeves whenever they find themselves addressing blue-collar workers. "The gesture is somehow meant to signify sincerity and straight-talk," Givhan told the International Museum of Women.
Obama has, from the very beginning, attempted to appease "blue collar" workers in addition to maintaining a more neutral tone towards different activist groups during his candidacy.
While President Obama has maintained a more casual look, Michelle Obama has received nearly opposite commentary for her often bright and colorful wardrobe. The first lady was spotted at the State of the Union address wearing a bright, sapphire blue dress that caught the attention of many as she was surrounded by others wearing far darker colors.
The dress was the work of Los Angeles designer Barbara Tfank and was described by The Washington Post as "sleek" and "the perfect shade of Democratic blue."
According to Infoplease.com's "Color Psychology," blue is a peaceful color that represents loyalty and is also attributed to achieving greater success.
Horyn suggested during the presidential elections in 2008 that the first lady's attire gave more appeal to her political stances. "I want Michelle Obama's view, and I never felt that about her recent predecessors," Horyn states.
"Politicians have worked hard to master the art of dressing for their audiences," according to Givhan.
Still, she says it is important for the audience to not be aware of how much importance is placed on the meanings behind fashion. "We've become a country that likes to think of our politicians as 'just like us,'" she said.
"Politicians work hard to blend in and appear approachable and real. The trick is not to let anyone see how hard you're working to appear so natural," said Givhan.