Not since the phrase "business casual" has there been such a commotion over what a woman wears to the boardroom. Just as we were getting used to the idea of a pantsuit, our male counterparts were kicking back in khaki pants and button-downs
Now the tables are turning again as flattering, affordable style replaces buttoned-up "wife wear."
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"Powerful women no longer need to prove their strength by dressing shoulder to padded shoulder with men," exclaimed the New York Times recently when commenting on the types of outfits usually worn by first wives.
"Political wives in particular have had their parameters drawn around a smart suit and a tailored coat," the Times continued. Whether it was Barbara Bush or Nancy Reagan, first wives were rarely seen in anything other than a muted blazer and modest pencil skirt. Throw in a pair of sensible shoes and all sense of style was vetoed into oblivion.
But here comes Michelle Obama trailing a string of young, fresh designers whose names are becoming as commonplace in Washington as they are in WWD. Fashion is ruling something other than the red carpet, proving that powerful women can make a statement standing out, not just standing by their men. Michelle’s agenda is clear. Put an end to "wife wear" and send conservatism to the cleaners.
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Bold prints and bright colors dominated the headlines as the First Lady toured Europe in everything from a colorful coat and bow-necked dress to snug sweaters and a sparkly knit top. Even Hillary Clinton, ambassador to the polyester nation, has been mixing it up with sharp accessories and softer colors.
"The fashion gene skipped a generation," Hillary recently explained on The View. But lately, even Hillary can’t help but take notice of the shift in perception and importance of style.