Style Meets Substance

First Lady, working mom, fashion icon: Michelle Obama makes the mix look easy

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Michelle Obama's looks, from left: Inauguration (January 20, 2009); Healthy-eating program (September 24, 2010); State dinner: China (January 19, 2011)

Every first lady makes an impression, whether she means to or not. Some arrive at the White House already well versed in the sartorial requirements of the job — what Lady Bird Johnson referred to as "the harness of hairdo and gloves." Others resent the expectations or struggle with the language of imagery out of insecurity or ambivalence or a failure to grasp why what makes them feel comfortable should be any business of the public's. Although she finally found her groove in Oscar de la Renta pantsuits, Hillary Clinton confesses in her memoir, Living History, that she was slow to...

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