By our count, she's worn the dress at least seven times since she debuted it on January 21 st , 2009, the day after President Obama's inauguration, at a non-denominational prayer service held at the Washington Cathedral followed by a luncheon. On Wednesday, she donned it again to visit the historic Decatur House, a former slave quarters located only a block from the White House.
While we mortals might shop our own closets every day, many figures in the public eye shun recycling their clothing. Joanna Douglas, Yahoo! Shine's Senior Fashion and Beauty Editor points out, "FLOTUS is very practical when it comes to dressing. She packs light for vacation and re-wears the same dresses within a very short period of time, unlike celebrities who are afraid to wear the same thing twice. I think women appreciate that she just digs into her closet like anyone else."
What makes this particular dress so versatile? The ballet neckline, fitted bodice, and full, just-below-the-knee length skirt are universally flattering and chic. While some women may shy from a jazzy print, this one can actually be dressed up or down with the right shoes and clutch and doesn't require elaborate jewelry. The dark background adds elegance where a lighter color might be too girly for official events.
In a phone interview with Yahoo! Shine, Nikki Pennie, Celebrity Stylist and David's Bridal Style Council member, shared her tips for finding the perfect go-to dress.
Sleeve length. "The key element is the ¾ sleeve length, because you don't have to wear a jacket over it which can look stiff," says Pennie who has dressed celebs from Madonna to Kate Middleton. "If this was a sleeveless dress, I guarantee you she would have only worn it once." Pennie says ¾ length is the most flexible, but long sleeves work better than sleeveless or capped sleeves.
Color. If you shy from prints, Pennie advises a rich color like navy or pewter. If you prefer lighter colors, she loves the trend of lace for day, which can look modern in shades such as lavender. "People are moving away from black, especially for day."
Skirt length. "The length of Michelle's dress is perfect and ladylike," says Pennie. If you want a shorter dress, she says stick with a classic shift cut.
Comfort. "Its an effortless way of dressing," says Pennie. "Kate [Middleton] and Michelle are pioneering this trend, they don't have stylists and they buy their own clothes, it's about being comfortable and hassle-free."
With prominent women like Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton shopping their own closets for public events, the rest of us may begin to feel less pressured to run out and buy an expensive new garment every time we have a special occasion. Colleen Sherrin, Fashion Director at Saks Fifth Avenue tells Yahoo! Shine, "I love to see people wear things over and over. It's the way fashion is going. People want investment pieces that they can wear for years to come." Sherrin agrees that when powerful and famous women re-wear their clothes, it sends a message its okay to recycle. She adds that buying higher quality pieces and wearing them many times is part of a positive trend that is better for the environment and for the people who are employed in clothing manufacturing. "Its not about throwaway clothes."
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