Michelle Obama picks yellow for inauguration dress

Tue Jan 20, 2009 5:27pm EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Michelle Obama, hailed by many as America's new style icon, officially took her place on the world stage on Tuesday wearing an outfit in the nontraditional color of yellow and set fashionistas atwitter.

The new U.S. first lady, 45, chose a sparkling sheath dress and matching coat in a yellow-gold hue by Cuban-born American designer Isabel Toledo for the presidential swearing-in ceremony. She matched it with a wide diamante necklace.

What she will wear to the formal inaugural ball later on Tuesday remained a tightly held secret. But her choice is expected to provide clues to her future balancing act as glamorous first lady in a time of deep recession.

Michelle Obama, a former lawyer, has been credited with bringing a chic, youthful style to U.S. politics and for mixing comfortable chain store garments from the likes of Gap and J. Crew with edgier new designers like Chicago's Mario Pinto and Narciso Rodriguez.

Initially seen as slightly aloof, she won hearts in June by wearing an affordable $148 black and white off-the-rack dress for an appearance on the popular female TV chat show "The View." It sold out nationwide overnight.

Her swearing-in outfit was a departure from the red, white or blue tones often adopted by U.S. female politicians on high-profile occasions.

Yellow is traditionally seen in many parts of the world as a symbol of hope and optimism, style experts said.


<p>Michelle Obama waves during the inauguration ceremony of her husband, the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, in Washington, January 20, 2009. She is holding the Bible her husband was sworn in with, which is also the Bible President Abraham Lincoln used during his inauguration in 1861. REUTERS/Jim Bourg</p>