Michelle Obama is opening about her eight years in the White House in her highly-anticipated memoir Becoming. So far, we know how she really feels about Donald Trump pushing his birther conspiracy theory and what it was like to conceive her children through in vitro fertilization. In a new interview with Oprah Winfrey, the former First Lady and Elle December cover star (wearing Dior!), chats with her friend about her life now. And in an accompanying excerpt of the book on Elle, the former FLOTUS reveals how calculating she had to be with her appearance.
She writes that, prior to her husband’s successful presidential run, she barely thought about what she wore. During the long campaign, she worked with Meredith Koop, a salesperson who would eventually move to Washington to become her personal aide and stylist. Obama recounts how “a few times a month, Meredith would roll several big racks of clothing into my dressing room in the residence, and we’d spend an hour or two trying things on”; and the clothing had to pass a test of whether Michelle could “squat, lunge, and pinwheel” her arms.
Everything the former First Lady wore, naturally, became fodder for public debate. “As a black woman, too, I knew I’d be criticized if I was perceived as being showy and high-end, and I’d also be criticized if I was too casual,” Obama writes. The solution, she says, was to mix it up. “I’d match a Michael Kors skirt with a T-shirt from Gap. I wore something from Target one day and Diane von Furstenberg the next.” Her goal was to celebrate American designers, especially “those who were less established, even if it sometimes frustrated the old guard, including Oscar de la Renta, who was reportedly displeased that I wasn’t wearing his creations. For me, my choices were simply a way to use my curious relationship with the public gaze to boost a diverse set of up-and-comers.”
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