Michelle Obama carries U.S. designers into spotlight

Wed Jan 21, 2009 9:43am EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Michelle Obama officially entered the world stage on Tuesday in outfits by U.S. designers paired with off-the-rack accessories, mixing glamour with practicality.

The first lady chose a sparkling sheath dress and matching coat in yellow-gold by Cuban-born designer Isabel Toledo for the swearing-in ceremony but added olive green gloves from chain store J.Crew and Jimmy Choo shoes.

For the inaugural balls, she wore a white, one-shouldered chiffon gown with a full skirt by Taiwan-born U.S. designer Jason Wu, 26, whose dresses cost up to $6,000.

"How good looking is my wife?," President Barack Obama asked the crowd at the first of 10 inaugural balls attended by the couple.

Michelle Obama's clothing choices were expected to provide clues to the way she will undertake her role as first lady in a time of deep recession.

A former lawyer, Michelle Obama, 45, has won kudos for her chic, youthful style, mixing chain store garments with edgy designers like Chicago's Mario Pinto and Narciso Rodriguez.

Her daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, both wore J. Crew coats to the presidential swearing-in ceremony.

Obama won praise in June by wearing a $148 black and white off-the-rack dress for appearing on the TV chat show "The View." It sold out nationwide overnight.   Continued...

<p>First lady Michelle Obama waves to the crowd after dancing her first dance of inauguration night with President Barack Obama at the leadoff Neighborhood Inaugural Ball in Washington January 20, 2009. REUTERS/Brian Snyder</p>