Beauty expert dubs first lady Michelle Obama the ‘commander in chic’

A fashion and beauty maven says women should look to the first lady for inspiration on how to stock their own closets with style.

 Mikki Taylor, the editor at large for Essence magazine, even bestows a new title on Michelle Obama in her new book, Commander in Chic: Every Woman’s Guide to Managing her Style Like a First Lady.

ADVERTISEMENT
 Taylor, who first became attracted to Obama’s fashion sense while working with her on a 2006 magazine story, says that unlike other presidents’ wives, “Michelle Obama effectively dresses for Michelle Obama. She dresses to delight herself. She’s not so influenced by the trends.”

Even when that means rebelling against one of the most blatant fashion faux pas around: wearing the same outfit again and again. Obama, 47, has been known to rock the same frock twice (or sometimes three times). She donned the same Thakoon floral dress at an October event that she had worn two times before in 2009. 

But Taylor calls it making a “repeat performance,” and says, “You’ve never seen that before, and you really don’t see it from women in the public eye. A great dress is a great dress. A great look is a great look. Why not wear it again?”

And the author, who has worked with countless models and celebs, has some tricks of the trade that she’s picked up from studying the first lady’s style to help Washington women become their own Capitol Hill fashionistas.

Taylor adds that a cashmere cardigan and flared pant are essentials in any wardrobe. She’s also a big fan of the LBD — that’s little black dress, for you stylists-in-training — saying that you can “never have too many black dresses.” Taylor also has some more words of wisdom: “You should never buy a look for one occasion, unless it’s your wedding.”

Yet Taylor notes that her favorite FLOTUS moment, as she’s worked with her several times over the years, showed that even fashion muses can get flustered.

Describing a 2008 photo shoot with the entire Obama family for the cover of Essence, Taylor recalls that Obama was standing on the front lawn of her Chicago home so photogs could snap a solo shot. “Sen. Obama at that time came out on the front porch and started teasing with her and [saying], ‘Isn’t she cute?’ ” Taylor says. “And I mean, she did all she could do with her strong and determined self not to blush or to lose her focus for the camera.”