The Inaugural Rorschach Test


After yesterday’s incredibly moving, historic inauguration, the talk today was all about the really important stuff, namely, what did we think of what Michelle Obama wore? Emails, blogs, client calls, all converged to debrief on issue number one. Did we like the green/yellow coatdress? Was the fluffy dress too fluffy? And of course, the perennial, nagging question, “Did she look fat in that?” (Note: I think she had a bullet proof vest under the sheath dress, because she’s thinner than that. I’d swap safety for vanity in a heartbeat!)

On one hand, it might seem that women (perhaps men commented, but I bet we outdid them), are shamelessly shallow to bring all this up. After all, Michelle is a leading national figure in her own right—mom, Harvard lawyer, successful professional, community activist and she weathered the challenging two years on the campaign trail with amazing grace.  So, why don’t we keep our wardrobe notes to ourselves?  

I think it’s women’s way of trying to get to know her, to gently poke our way into her psyche, to try to read her from afar to understand what she’s all about. (And, yes, to pick up our own glamour do’s and don’t’s for when we are on the inaugural hot seat.) So we wonder, were the green shoes a bit of informality on a formal day? Was the white dress a nod toward Jackie Kennedy or a connection to her own wedding? Does she care if she elevates the fashion IQ in the White House or is she just living her life as she sees it?

I like to think that our drive-by makeovers are really an inkblot test of our own dreams and insecurities. Michelle is in the national mirror, and we get to watch, even judge and maybe envy. My two cents…she rocked the House.

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December 2, 2021
by Mary Lou Quinlan

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