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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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……

alicia on

She is beautiful! I love her fashion choices. As for the reader who said her arms are flabby, are you serious? Her toned arms are one of the things people constantly comment on! I don’t think anything she has worn has been inappropriate!

Kate on

Such funny comments! I really am a very small size, I’m also 50 yrs. old, and am not too interested in “bragging” about my size. Wish bigger, but whatever. Anyway,I have seen the sizes in Target, and many times have tried things on. Their small sizes really ARE pretty big, too much for me to be comfortable.

Janice on

Suzy Diamond. I sympathize with you about losing a job after 30 years but I find it completely hard to believe that there is no job for you…it may not be your dream job but anything is better than nothing. You seem very bitter. Maybe you could redirect some of that anger into finding a job and perhaps try to be positive because nobody wants to hire a cranky pants.

Shedidnt@gmail.com on

Very becoming for a first lady! Elegant- NO! Becoming- as in cheapening the office- YES!

hink66 on

I am so tired of hearing about Mrs. Obama and her great sense of style. She looks good in the above picture, but when she insists on wearing a belt (as she often does)she looks downright ridiculous. Breaks her in half and does not accentuate her best features. I’ve seen pics where she looks very attractive and other times when she looks a bit frumpy.

VR on

Natalie, I believe you as I saw pictures of Mrs. Obama shopping at a Target store..no doubt she picked up the dress there. Suzy Diamon..LOL you cracked me up! If it weren’t so funny it would be sad…I hear you.

Barry on

Big Mama’s fashion motto is: Make it large enough to cover all this junk in my trunk, expensive and bill the taxpayers.

rhinomidget on

The woman is total fashion train wreck!

Guest on

Who cares what she wears! With the economy in the shambles it is in, the last thing she should be talking about is what she wears and where she buys it! Try explaining why your husband is the poorest president this country has seen in decades!!

sahari on

I applaud her practical approach. I just wish, when speaking about her interactions with people, she would have considered the impact that people have on her — and not just the other way around. She’s not The Source.

Selena on

She is a “fashion plate”?????? Seriously? She looks like a “fashion disaster”. She needs to focus on her baboon butt face and see if she can get help with it!

Lotus on

I love the First Lady’s fashion sense and she seems like a down-to-earth person. I’d love to run into her at at Target.

Isabella on

Suddenly she became a fashionista….I wish I could bring her pictures before they were campaigning….Two sisters separated at birth.

cgeeblanco on

I love how so many of you are calling her fat and criticizing the amount of money she spends on clothes. First of all, given that 66% of the US population is either overweight or obese, I have a hard time believing you all are taking a break from your day job as models to comment on this post. Second of all, the lady was employed before she came to the White House and made a heck of a lot of her OWN money. If she wants to use it to buy herself a dress from Target of all places, I don’t see why that’s a problem. Bunch of bitter Betty’s lurking around these parts.

packer on

She should not wear the belts and her high heels do not look good on her. You can see her feet, needs to find a better pair.

cindy on

im so sick and tired of hearing about her and her “fashion sense” the only first lady that had any real fashion sense was Jackie Kennedy, not this lady who uses her money friviously. I dont hear anything about her doing any good to the community, at least the last first lady Laura Bush promoted reading and schooling. how about some scandal? rather read her go to rehab like Betty Ford or something.

lynn on

Blah, blah blah. . . . .

Sofie on

All you idiots are haters Mrs. Obama is beautiful elegant and she has a great sense of style! @Selena your a my friend are the baboon!!

Lucky on

She even likes to “spread the wealth” when it comes to fashion. Geez. Give me a break.

Selena on

@Katie Roy, Natalie also thinks Michele can “do no wrong…, so obviously, she lives in a fantasy world. People who are secure within themselves don’t have a need to mention what “size” they wear. Natalie is lacking in brains and self confidence. Michele Obama, well……there is nothing good about her.

Perk on

LOL to all you haters and bitter women. If it was Barbara Bush being interviewed and talking about her fashion, you wouldn’t have a problem. But how soon do we forget Mr. Obama was put in office to clean up the MESS that your dear Bush created!!!!! Mrs. Obama is not the president, so GET OFF HER @SS! SHE IS ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL AND SHE CARRIES HERSELF WITH CLASS. For the one that hasn’t found a Job, how about you look yourself in the mirror and be real with yourself, is it that you can’t find a job or that you can’t find a job that YOU WANT? Beggers can’t be choosey miss, I’m sure you can find a job, matterfact a lot of retail stores are looking for help for the holidays…..how bout you try that. Last I checked MRS. OBAMA was not the hiring manager for the United States!!!!

ni'nat on

It kills me that you racist ppl can come on here and give your comments about a fashion article about our first lady and be so critical…your opinion is just what it is your opinion but please don’t blame her for you being unemployed and saying she is out of shape…if you want to talk about being out of shape look at all of the other first laides before her none of them had great shapes let alone did they received that much criticism as this first lady…ppl take a look in the MIRROR it’s something that you are seeing that you don’t like about yourself…stop the hating if you don’t like the current president do something in 2012…

Marlyn on

How about not deleting my comments, People? I guess you don’t want people to know the truth about her frumpy fashion no-no’s. You must know it’s true. You leave someone’s comment in that says she looks like a baboon, but you won’t add mine because I critizied her fashion mistakes. Go figure.

sam on

What fashion? She is a laughing stock….I cringe every time I see her.

Kim F on

I say to each his own. Yes, OUR first lady likes to dress and she looks nice. Why all the negative BS about her? If she were walking around with a dress on made from a pair if drapes from the oval office you’d have something to say or a dress by a top designer you would have something to say. Find someone else to pick on and let the First Lady play her role. Besides she adds a litte color to a very colorless landscape. Stop judging people thats not very nice.

Ray on

For the first time in my life, I’m proud of my clothes!!! LOL

eve on

She definitely nailed it! WEAR what you love..

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