When first lady Michelle Obama steps outside the White House, all eyes are watching. For a handful of lesser-known independent designers who make her blog-worthy wardrobe, a sartorial endorsement from America's first lady can provide a big boost in business.
Widely praised for her fashion choices, the FLOTUS is the ongoing subject of many fashion blogs and best-dressed lists, but it's not her taste in haute couture that has everyone talking. While Obama has described her style as "wear what you love," fashion blogger Mary Tomer Byun, founder of Mrs-O.com, says there is some important, if subtle, messaging there. "I do think there's a deliberate effort by the first lady and her team to showcase up-and-coming and lesser-known American design talents and to wear pieces from more affordable retailers."
The first lady's style team often selects from designers only known within fashion's inner circles, with selections from small labels like Isabel Toledo. Beyond going small, Obama's style choices are often symbolic — a signature she has increasingly used. "For the most recent state dinner to host the president of South Korea, Mrs. Obama wore a draped jersey gown by South Korean-born designer Doo-Ri Chung," Byun says. "The sartorial nod showed respect for the culture of her dinner guests, which is just a wonderful gesture that elevates the role of fashion."