Since the days of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, First Lady fashion has been observed and scrutinized by the public (even more than the politics at time). In Barack Obama’s two-term presidency and beyond, Michelle Obama raised the bar for FLOTUS style by stepping out in some bright and bold pieces. More recently, she broke the Internet in a pair of glittery, thigh high Balenciaga boots.
But Obama’s style choices did more than just showcase her fashion sense. Unlike her successor Melania Trump—who has caused many stirs with her often tone-deaf looks, such as wearing a jacket that read “I don’t really care. Do U?” to see detained migrant children—Obama used her style and influence to make a positive statement, giving a platform to up-and-coming American designers, many of whom are people of color, women, and from immigrant backgrounds. By picking emerging designers with activism stitched into the seams of their brand, Obama defined a generation of style not just in what she wore, but who she wore, creating some of fashion’s biggest names and trailblazers in the years that followed.
On her birthday, L’OFFICIEL looks back on Obama’s decade-long support of independent American fashion designers with 12 of her best style moments.