Michelle Obama Reveals Her Fashion Motto

10/18/2011 at 06:00 PM ET

Miss Piggy InStyleCarolyn Kaster/AP

First Lady Michelle Obama may be a major fashion plate, but she’s not choosing her daily looks based on labels — it’s all about practicality.

Speaking to reporters Monday during a roundtable at the White House for her Let’s Move! campaign, Obama revealed her personal style motto. “I have to wear what I love,” she said. “I have to feel good in it. My day-to-day wardrobe choices are very practical. I’m like, ‘What’s the temperature?’ ‘Am I going to be sitting in the grass?’ ‘Will I be playing with kids?’ ‘Can I sit on the floor?'”

The First Lady explained that her key concerns are generally about her shirts bunching up or not covering enough of her back, because “if I bend over [I'm] worrying about that … embarrassing shot,” she joked.

And though she chooses her casual clothes — H&M, Gap, Talbots, Target (which she wore Monday, above) with a purpose — naturally, she also shops for what she really likes. “It’s like my music,” she explained. “Everything in my closet is something that I love, so that I can make choices based on what makes sense, knowing that I’m going to love whatever it is. I think that tends to be my philosophy.”

Obama said that with the focus off her clothes, she can focus instead on the people she’s with at any given event. “If I’m comfortable in what I have on, that’s second nature, and then all my attention can go to the people in the room that I’m with at the time, and I don’t have to worry about whether something is riding up or whether my feet hurt. I don’t want to waste anxiety on something as limited as clothes.”

However, when it comes time for major galas, the First Lady does think a bit more fashionably. “I try to be thoughtful about spreading the wealth: young designers,” she said. “Mixing things up is important to me.”

But at the end of the day, it’s about the personal impression she’s making on others, and not so much about her looks. “Ultimately, did they walk away feeling good and inspired, and maybe ready to think a little bit differently?” she said. “That’s what I’m hoping to do with the interactions I have.”

–Kate Hogan

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FILED UNDER: Fashion , Michelle Obama

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Showing 41 comments

MaryAnn on

Should’ve been the louder the better!

Ronzaro on

True. Wear what you love, and not what others believe to be “trendy”. You should always feel comfortable wearing the clothes and stick to the items that suit your personality and style.

Natalie on

I was at my local Target the other day and I saw the dress First Lady Obama is wearing in this picture on clearance! If they had it in my size (2), I would have purchased it. The dress looks great on her and I love how she added the bow on the collar for extra detail. This lady can do no wrong style wise–she is truly an inspiration in many ways. Love her.

roro on

There’s a difference between feeling comfortable and being appropriate. I agree you need to like what you wear and feel comfortable in it but sometimes her choices aren’t right for some events. It’s admirable that she hasn’t let the first lady thing get to her head.

suzy diamond on

How about a MOTTO for the UNEMPLOYED Mrs. Obama? How should I dress for a job that I’ve been looking for since 2009 when I was laid off after being there 30yrs?

Katie Roy on

Natalie, you must have really wanted everybody to know that you’re a size 2. Haha, got a kick out of that arrogance. Anyway, it’s cool to see someone who could be spending so much money on fashion, actually thinking practically and acting like the whole rest of the world has to.

JJ on

I don’t know that I’d consider her a major fashion plate, but I do like the fact that her fashion choices have always been practical and conservative. It’s refreshing to see a first lady who doesn’t feel the need to prove to the American public just how much she can afford to spend on clothes. It makes her relatable, and though I’m not a fan of her husband’s policies, I think she is a breath of fresh air for the White House.

Raider on

@Natalie…how could you tell if they had that dress in your size or not with your head lodged so far up that losers butt?? She is the epitomy of fashion don’ts!! For Christ’s sakes cover up your flabby arms!!

JJ on

Hilarious, Katie! It should be pointed out that Target’s size 2 is nowhere near an actual size 2. Their clothes are enormous. I can say this with confidence, because I buy size 2’s at Target, and the only place I am actually a size 2 is in my dreams.

marly on

She does wear some nice gowns, my one thing I wish she did better, is her walk, like she’s trying not to be so tall, her oldest daughter walks same way, send her to model school, tall is beautiful……

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