Even before she took up residence at the Oval Office, Michelle Obama's fashion sense was critiqued right down to her J.Crew tee. It's been 100 days since the President was sworn in (conversely for hard core fashionistas it marks the anniversary that the custom chartreuse ensemble by Isabel Toledo was debuted) and the sartorial scrutiny for the missus has only escalated. (Case-in-point: a book dedicated to Mrs. O's style will be released next week and Google results for "Michelle Obama style" top out at 25 million.) To which we say, what's not to love? We've entered a new era of politics and now have a President with a melting pot background. His wife could be considered the melting pot of fashion, giving hope to young designers in a difficult market, and confidence to women around the world who have always wanted to experiment with style. It takes confidence to pull off unconventional color schemes and bold prints. The idea of mixing and matching labels is not foreign but it is for someone of her stature.

With the world as her fashion closet, the First Lady has shown an enthusiasm for designers of a different stripe. Those who existed solely within industry circles have been thrust into the spotlight instantaneously (that's you Jason Wu), while other iconic labels have been left in their ready-and-waiting garment bags (sorry, Oscar).

Over the past several weeks, Obama has been defiant in her right to bare arms, shown the love for a certain Azzedine Alaia belt, and forced journalists to learn the correct pronunciation of Japanese designer Junya Watanabe (Joon-ya Wah-tah-nah-bay). Knitwear has ranked high of her list of must-haves with a certain cardie causing a tizzy among critics after it was deemed too casual to meet the Queen. Bow blouses, eye-popping prints, and pencil skirts have all been part of the mix with accessories such as Erickson Beamon pins, Loree Rodkin diamond jewelry, and the omnipresent strand of pearls punctuating sophistication.

Love it or leave it – Mrs. Obama had made the most of what's she's got. There's really nothing more American than that.

Style Evolution: Michelle Obama

    This one-shoulder gown by Jason Wu was seen around the world. Proving her fashionable prowess, the newly-appointed First Lady boldly chose a dress by the relatively unknown designer. Knowing what works for her body, she eschewed anything too dowdy or cleavage-baring and instead focused on her favorite asset - toned arms.

    Mark Wilson, Getty Images

    Many a critic found Obama's Junya Watanabe cardigan rather unsettling. The controversial piece, worn over a teal full-skirted Jason Wu dress, should get points for blending brown and blue if nothing else. At least her clothes fit better than poor Sarah Brown's, wife of the British Prime Minister.

    Joel Ryan, WPA Pool/Getty Images

    While we're the first to embrace Mrs. O's style, we must admit that these clothes look like they spent too much time in the dryer. In comparison to the buttoned up Dr. Jill Biden, Obama's ensemble is more play school than preppy. Clearly, the argyle detail on a sweater is a recurring favorite.

    Mandel Ngan, AFP / Getty Images

    While walking through a the White House rose garden on April 28th, Obama showed her love for a new designer, Sophie Theallet, in a full-skirted 1950s-inspired day dress. WWD reported that the First Lady was introduced to Theallet's clothing vis-a-vis her personal style consultant Ikram Goldman, and not Azzedine Alaia, for whom she used to work.

    Mark Wilson, Getty Images

    Another day, another argyle cardigan by Junya Wantanabe. We don't think that kids would mind as much as we do this particular ensemble. Love the colors but, in the words of Tim Gunn, "make it work!" The belt has an awkward placement and the shirt bunches in all the wrong places.

    Tim Sloan, AFP / Getty Images

    For her visit with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, Michelle Obama wore a black-and-white Isabel Toledo dress, an Azzedine Alaia cardigan, and pearls. Some thought the cardigan was not formal enough.

    John Stillwell, WPA Pool/Getty Images

    The Obama's first Easter egg roll on the White House lawn drew a record crowd. For the casual affair, mama Obama looked ready for spring in cropped light blue pants and a kelly green top with a sensible navy jacket.

    Ron Edmonds, AP

    Stepping out for church services with the President on Easter Sunday, Mrs. Obama wore a pretty floral frock from Peter Soronen accentuated with her go-to accessory, a double strand of pearls.

    Aude Guerrucci, AFP/Getty Images

    The First Lady debuted her spring wardrobe at the G20 Summit in London, pairing classic styles with light, airy brights. In Germany, Mrs. Obama wore a custom Thakoon floral silk jacquard dress with black kitten heels.

    Christof Stache, AP

    The First Lady poses on the red carpet at the NATO Summit in a black Azzedine Alaia dress full skirt dress.

    Getty Images





First-Lady Style: Make the Most of What Youve Got

    1: Play Up Your Assets
    Take a page out of Michelle Obama's style book and highlight your best features instead of obsessing over the worst. MO's MO? The First Lady emphasizes her enviable, toned arms in sleeveless sheaths and draws attention to her narrow waistline with wide belts.

    Charles Ommanney/Getty Images; Polaris

    2: Choose Signature Pieces
    Define your style wearing (and wearing) pieces that speak to you. Look no further than Mrs. Obama's official portrait (left) to see that the First Lady sticks to favorites like sleeveless sheaths (this by Michael Kors) and a double strand of pearls. Other wardrobe staples include her headline-making cardigan sweaters and belts (far left).

    Landov; Joyce Boghosian/The White House

    3: Discover Defining Colors
    Give black (and navy...and charcoal, etc.) a break! Whether you look best in jewel tones or pastels, wearing color brightens your skin tone (and can have a similar affect on your mood). The First Lady doesn't shy away from printed brights as seen on her magenta Thakoon sheath (far left) or striking solids like a turquoise dress from Maria Pinto (left).

    Fabrizio Bensch/Landov; Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    4: Get a Great Haircut
    Invest in a versatile, stylish cut. Mrs. Obama's layered bob can go from sleek and straight to flirty and feminine to suit any occasion and outfit.

    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images

    5: Don't Sacrifice Comfort
    Who says you have to suffer for fashion or fabulous shoes? When on the move, the First Lady chooses easy cotton sundresses (like this one from Moschino, left) or tailored trousers dressed up with a fitted jacket (from Azzedine Alaia, far left). Look for pieces that suit your shape while giving you a little extra breathing room. For practical and chic shoes, select sleek ballet flats in patent, snakeskin or metallics, or classic low pumps with a kitten heel.

    Sean Gallup/Getty Images; Emmanuel Dunand/Getty Images

    6: Shop Your Closet
    Effortlessly mix and match key separates to create different looks. Mrs. Obama created two distinctive outfits using her marigold J. Crew cardigan by simply swapping out a print skirt and shell for bright cobalt-blue denim. Step 1: Take inventory of your closet so you know what's in there.

    Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images; Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photobank

    7: Accessorize like a Pro
    Statement jewelry can make an outfit. The First Lady adds oversized Tom Binns necklaces (like those at left) to classic evening ensembles, or fastens her favorite cardigans with a collection of costume brooches. Avoid a fashion exclamation by sticking with one statement piece per outfit.

    Marcel Thomas/FilmMagic; Kevin Lamarque/Landov

    8: Reveal Your Silhouette
    Fitted sheaths (like this from Thakoon, far left) highlight the First Lady's long, lean line, and full-skirted dresses like this Azzedine Alaia design (left) draw attention to her small waist. Find cuts that flatter your figure -- and stick with them.

    Brian Snyder/Landov; Fabrizio Bensch/Landov

    9: Find Your Resources
    Seek out stores with an attentive staff that can do the hard work for you. Mrs. Obama favors Ikram, a fashionable Chicago boutique, where owner Ikram Goldman keeps an eye out for flattering pieces. Many department stores (and trendy shops like Topshop) offer complimentary personal shopping -- just make an appointment ahead of time. Mrs. Obama also saves time and money by shopping online for colorful basics from J. Crew (left). Sticking to your favorite retailers means you'll know which designers, styles and sizes suit you best.

    Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images; Leon Neal/Getty Images

    10: Know When to WOW!
    When it's your time to shine, do it! For the Inauguration, Mrs. Obama went all-out with a hand-embroidered, one-shoulder Jason Wu gown (far left), while at the Democratic National Convention, she added three Erickson Beamon brooches to a bold floral-print dress from Thakoon (left). Next time you're in the spotlight, don't be afraid to break from your typical look: Choose a knockout number that you -- and everyone around you -- will buzz about.

    Stan Honda/Getty Images; MCT/Landov