The first lady stepped off Air Force One during the Obama family's recent mini-vacation out West wearing a pair of moss-colored shorts. They were not the kind of knee-grazing Bermudas or pedal pushers that the fashion industry has long advocated as work-appropriate sportswear during the summer months. They were not tailored, nor were they masquerading as a skirt. Michelle Obama was wearing play shorts — the kind of casual cotton fare that a woman might choose for a family outing when her itinerary includes hiking around the rim of the Grand Canyon on a hot summer day, which is precisely what the first lady was going to do.

Obama, who joined the president and their two daughters for an excursion to the national park, looked like any other American tourist. Indeed, many sad-sack sightseers could take a few lessons from her style. The shorts fit her figure; she was not wearing a souvenir top that read: "My family went to Washington and all I got was this lousy T-shirt." She was not sporting a fanny pack. Or wearing beaten-up rubber flip-flops. She looked fine.


But that doesn't make the ensemble okay.

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