Robin Givhan, the Daily Beast‘s special correspondent for style and culture, says that while the first lady’s clothing is often meaningful, sometimes a dress is just a dress. In a piece written just before the election, she argued against the view that everything Michelle Obama wears is symbolic and needs to be discussed.
All valid points. But our guess is that for Givhan and others suffering from first lady fashion fatigue, President Obama’s second term is going to be a very long four years.
… Early on, it seemed that thanks to the first lady, people were looking at fashion more seriously. They could see how her embrace of J. Crew directly improved that company’s business. They could see how the choice of an evening gown from the British design house Alexander McQueen for a state dinner at the White House raised legitimate questions about nationalism, even patriotism. The shorts she wore while disembarking from Air Force One — while on vacation — pointed to the gray zone that a first lady occupies: Is she a full-time public figure or a part-time one? Just how “regular” can she be or do we want her to be? And Mrs. Obama’s reliance on the simple sleeveless dress opened a dialogue about femininity, power, and the modern workplace.
These were all topics that deserved attention.
But the flood of Joan Rivers-style verbiage about her day-to-day wardrobe has overwhelmed those nuanced conversations. Fashion is fun. But the nonstop attention to Mrs. Obama’s wardrobe isn’t fun; it’s exhausting. It’s too much. And it’s pointless.
The white noise about kitten heels and brooches, cardigans and belts, about who wore what best, about fashion as petty competition has brought the conversation low.
Mrs. Obama is as stylish as ever. Indeed, she has elevated the role that fashion can play in the public image of the first lady. It’s the conversation about her clothes that hasn’t lived up to its potential.
Read more at the Daily Beast.