As First Lady Michelle Obama took the stage at the Democratic National Convention, her choice of dress conveyed her passionate message even before she opened her mouth. At the close of an evening that seemed to focus primarily on beating down the opponent rather than uplifting the President, Mrs. Obama’s speech was uplifting, focused, and intentional, as was her spectacular dress.
Mrs. Obama chose to wear a custom made dress by African American designer Tracy Reese paired with matching pumps by J. Crew. As Isabel Wilkinson of the Daily Beast states, “it was a true Michelle Obama moment – and symbolic of her democratic attitude about style.”
The First Lady’s speech focused on the accessibility of the first family. She paints us a picture of a young couple who came from nothing, who “learned about dignity and decency – that how hard you work matters more than how much you make.” In her pink and blue dress by Reese, she underscores her “support of homegrown talent,” states Wilkinson.
The 48-year-old designer is a Detroit native with an American dream story. Reese moved to New York, attended the Parsons School of Design, and worked her way up in the fashion industry. Her collection is “a bohemian, ethnic-inspired collection that is of-the-moment, yet never trendy,” cites the designer’s official bio. Compare Mrs. Obama’s ensemble to that of Ann Romney, who delivered her speech at the Republican National Convention “in a powerhouse Oscar de la Renta red dress,” comments the Huffington Post.
There are those who think it silly to comment on the dress of a First Lady, but clothing is merely another outlet to convey a political message: Mrs. Obama chose to close an evening devoted to her husband’s America in an American-made design with J. Crew shoes that any woman in the crowd could find at a local department store. With fashion, Mrs. Obama stated that she is an accessible, average American woman, focusing on her role as a mother and wife.
Howard Kurtz of The Daily Beast applauds Mrs. Obama for “avoiding the pungent language of other speakers, [for weaving] a narrative of biography and policy as she concluded, ‘Barack Obama knows the American Dream because he’s lived it.’” In her Tracy Reese dress and simple J. Crew pumps, her gray manicure, and dangly earrings, Mrs. Obama subtly joins in the political message that her husband’s American dream is the dream she believes in and uses fashion as a means to inspire a nation.