Belle's Thoughts on the Inauguration

I have a love/hate relationship with the First Lady’s clothing choices.  Sometimes, I look at her outfits and think, “Yes, right on.”  And other times, I look at them and think, “Why did you choose a shirt that makes you look like you’re wearing a bustle?”  

Basically, when she hits, she hits like Muhammad Ali.  When she misses, it’s like watching Andre Agassi whiff at a tennis ball.

This outfit was awesome.  The coat, pure awesome.  The belt was an unexpected and cool addition.  And clearly America thought so, since it sold out on the J.CREW site before dinner time.  And the gloves were a great way to add a burst of vibrant color to the look.

I found only two collarless flare coats that could even be called “similar.” This Robert Rodriguez and this Trina Turk.  If it’s a sequin sash you’re after, this Brooks Brothers belt is close or you could try a stretch belt with a jeweled medallion.  And as for the gloves, I had been thinking about buying purple leather gloves for awhile, and this sealed it for me. I picked these up from Nordstrom for $46.

But for all the awesomeness that her ceremony outfit packed…the luncheon outfit was another story…

Finding this photo was not easy (thanks, Mrs. O).  It was like every member of the press was eager to forget the horrors that lie beneath the gorgeous coat, but I couldn’t get that cropped cardigan out of my head.  And the seemingly gingham printed dress that went with it read Midwestern school marm to me.  This look was a miss.

I just hope this doesn’t bring the cropped cardi back to the shelves.  I can’t even think about that possibility without getting the chills.  Luckily, this was not the last we saw of the First Lady…

I always felt that Mrs. Obama’s first inaugural gown didn’t flatter her figure.  To me, it shortened and thickened the torso a bit too much, so despite the gorgeous fabric and embellishments, and I never loved it. 

This one?  This one, I love.  The neckline frames her shoulders, the waist makes her look lean and tall, and the color is lovely on her.  At one point, I flipped over to CNN to see the dress, and as the First Couple was dancing, I just kept thinking, “Could the leader of the free world get the heck out of the way so I can see Mrs. Obama in all her Deja Wu glory? Thanks.”  So clearly, I really like this gown.

This Raoul gown is very similar, but pricey.  And this BCBG dress has the same neckline in a cocktail style for under $175.

So what did you ladies think of Mrs. Obama’s choices?

All images from Getty via the HuffPost.



  1. gingerr says:

    I liked the coat. I noticed when she went to church she had heels but wisely switched to tights and boots for the ceremony. The dress/coat from the 2008 swearing-in ceremony is still my favorite.

    I know that the media loves that she shows up in ready-to-wear items but I really think she looks better in made-to-order. The pants and white blouse at an afternoon event with the girls (seen in the Washingtonpost slide show) is awful.

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. Amy says:

    I'm so with you on everything! I loved the coat, belt, gloves etc., but hated the cardi. Any other choice of wrap would have been better. I also loved her gown. I know that the First Lady tries to hide her hips, but the gathers on her first gown were not the way to go. I also hated the colors of her first inauguration day time attire, so I think everything she wore yesterday were a vast improvement!

    January 22, 2013/Reply
  3. m says:

    I know a variety of news sources link to the J Crew Collection Rhinestone-Encrusted Sash, but I don't think that's what Mrs. O was wearing. Hers clearly has bigger stones and doesn't tie at the back. Perhaps it was a custom-produced item from JCrew?

    January 22, 2013/Reply
  4. SB says:

    I saw the First Lady in person last night, and she looked AMAZING! The dress was perfection, and she should wear that color every day of the year. Simply stunning.

    January 22, 2013/Reply
  5. Chic Pundit says:

    The Smithsonian has the Jason Wu gown from 2009 in the middle of the First Lady exhibit. I've seen it a few times, and I'm always amazed at how unfinished and sloppy it looks up close.

    Seams are unfinished and the edges are fraying. Up close, the Jason Wu for Target collection was made better.

    The 2013 gown? Much better! Mrs. Obama always rocks the jewel tones.

    January 22, 2013/Reply
  6. Shannon says:

    I think the luncheon outfit could have been saved if she'd belted the dress (it was too loose at the midsection), swapped the cardi for a more flattering longer sweater, and perhaps added a brooch or other jewelry to brighten up the look. The basics of a good outfit were there, it just needed better fit and more pizzaz.

    Just like 2009, I loved Sasha and Malia's bright coats. I wonder if they were J. Crew again. I love how the Obama girls wear sophisticated, well-made, but still young and happy clothes.

    January 22, 2013/Reply
  7. Vicki says:


    I absolutely love reading your posts and witty commentaries. I, along with many of the prior commentators, agree with your viewpoint on her Jason Wu dress. While watching the First Couple dancing, I thought to myself how vibrant and elegant the dress was as it showcased her toned arms & neckline. Just gorgeous!

    January 22, 2013/Reply
  8. Lisa says:

    I feel exactly the same! I couldn't have said it better myself. The coat was fabulous, the cropped cardi left much to be desired, and that red DRESS!! It was perfect for her! I agree about white dress from the first time around. It was a lovely, lovely dress. However, it didn't suit her body.

    January 22, 2013/Reply
  9. GoGoGo says:

    I thought the coat was a total knockout. So did all the women around me on the Mall. Vocal unanimous support from our section.

    I thought the neckline and belt on the ball gown looked a bit too sporty for the occasion, a bit resort. But hey, she's a sporty lady. No question she looked fabulous.

    There's a long tradition that Big Serious state occasions require Big Serious clothes done in heavy brocaded and beaded fabrics. I feel like last Inauguration, the First Lady caved to that, and this time, she tossed it out the window and looked a thousand times better. (A bit like Kate Middleton's wedding dress did, really.)

    January 22, 2013/Reply
  10. Laura says:

    That is so funny I saw that cropped cardigan and thought to myself “Who's trying to bring that trend back and why”? I absolutely loved the coat with the belt and gloves and her inaugural gown was absolutely breath taking. Talk about hitting it out of the park it was a Grand Slam for the ages!

    January 22, 2013/Reply
  11. m says:

    @Shannon — Malia's coat was the J Crew lady day coat, and Sasha's was by Kate Spade.

    January 22, 2013/Reply
  12. Michelle says:

    I totally agree on the cropped cardigan look. It is about five-seven years out of date. Although Michelle Obama did the same thing back in 2011 when she met the royals. I hated the look then too, link above.

    January 22, 2013/Reply
  13. Shannon says:

    m – Thanks! I love Lady Day coats but I've heard they're not especially warm.

    January 22, 2013/Reply
  14. m says:

    @Shannon — my Lady Day coat WITHOUT thinsulate kept me warm and stylish through 5 Boston winters.

    January 22, 2013/Reply
  15. r says:

    what size did you buy those nordstrom gloves in? the website says to order up a size, and all the customer reviews seem to conflict on how many sizes to order up…

    January 23, 2013/Reply
  16. Belle says:

    r: I measured my hand at 7″ so I went to 7.5″, we'll see if they fit when they get here.

    January 23, 2013/Reply
  17. Tennis accessories says:

    I really loved the outfit that the First Lady wore at the inauguration. Plus those heels, lovely. I kept wondering if her feet weren't hurting after a while but she looked so stately walking in them.

    Mrs. Obama likes to experiment with fashion and I almost always like her choices. However, as you pointed out, there are one or two moments when she didn't make choices that flattered her. Fortunately, those are few and far between because everyone looks forward to seeing what she will wear next.

    I like that she's highlighted several young, talented designers as well.

    February 11, 2013/Reply