Thoroughly Modern Michelle

Michelle Obama is leaving the White House with the highest favorability rating of any previous first lady.  It’s not surprising as she is the perfect combination of aspiration and relatability.  In many ways she seems just like us: managing children, teasing her husband as she works as his loudest cheerleader and closest advisor. She shops where we shop (WHBM, J. Crew) and manages the family calendar,  but also has access to designers we dream of owning with a staff to help make it look as effortless as possible.  I know there will be many books within the next year dedicated to this history-making family, but below are the well-worn titles that I love the most.

Pretty Page Turner book review The Meaning of MichelleThe Meaning of Michelle

This compilation of essays is a moving tribute to the way Michelle made us feel, sometimes about ourselves and often about our country and our place in it.  A varied company of contributors look into every aspect of Michelle and what she represents-from her fashion to her dignity under pressure and even a look at how she represents an American perspective from across the Pacific.  I really enjoyed this book as many of the introspection mirrored my own. Other essays brought new insight into the paradigm shift of this firmly down-to-earth woman living in the highest house of the land.


Pretty Page Turner reviews Mrs. OMrs. O: The Face of Fashion Democracy 

This is the book that started it all.  Blogger Mary Tomer was the first to begin compiling Michelle’s fashion moments on the campaign trail, giving us a glimpse of how a real woman gets dressed for the most public stage. Her website Mrs-O. org was a constant feed of the woman that would become our truly modern First Lady. This is a beautiful coffee table book of beautiful photos and commentary of how Michelle skillfully used the power of image to make a statement. Her clothes and her persona are one of class, inclusiveness, strength and grace.


Pretty Page Turner book review Michelle ObamaMichelle: A Life

Peter Slevin offers a thought-provoking look into a journey from south-side Chicago to the Ivy League to the White House. Exploring the part working-class ethics allowed her to navigate challenges in college to building a varied and substantial career, he offers a even-handed look at a well-rounded woman, warts and all.  Looking at Michelle from every angle we see her triumphs as well as public missteps.  Channeling her life and career management skills to aid her husband on his quest for the highest office, Peter helps us understand the foundation of a modern and diverse First Lady.


Pretty Page Turner book review Commander in Chic

Commander in Chic

Essence Magazine Cover Editor Mikki Taylor helps us dissect the first ladies’ style DNA and develop our own fashion cheat sheet in this hands-on style guide.  Mikki uses her years of experience in the beauty and style industry to help you develop a winning working wardrobe of flattering ensembles that will help you channel Michelle’s effortless chic.



Pretty Page Turner book review American GrownAmerican Grown:  The Story of the White House Garden and Gardens Across America

I will not apologize for my obsession with Michelle’s wardrobe: her visual package informs her platform just as much as Jaqueline Kennedy’s set the stage for an American Versailles called Camelot.  However, credit must be given for every First Ladies’ platforms and initiatives.  Michelle’s focus on childhood obesity and healthy eating opened a valid conversation into food deserts and the need for culinary democratization.  Admittedly not a green thumb, Michelle is honest about building the garden and offers us help and advice from her experienced staff.  Because of Michelle, I might grab a pair of gardening gloves and put them to work.


Pretty Page Turner book review Everyday IconEveryday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style

Before I was entranced with My Paris Dream, one of my favorite authors, fashion journalist Kate Betts freed every fashionista from the ridicule of thinking our sartorial predilections are frivolous. She posits how and what you look like are the real statement of who you are and what you believe.  Placing Michelle’s style into historical context, the First Lady is given the proper credit of transforming the ideal of American style, power and femininity.



What Would Michelle Do? Pretty Page Turner reviewWhat Would Michelle Do? A Modern-Day Guide to Living with Substance and Style

Seeing this available was an exceptional treat, as the What Would series features subjects we consider icons:  Jackie O, Princess Grace and Audrey Hepburn.  To see a) a living and b) brown woman put into this company is confirmation that Michelle has made a monumental impact into the American psyche and earned a spot on the Mount Rushmore of classy, timeless and inspirational women. Drawing from her childhood to navigating the often derisive comments of public life, Alison Samuels gives us a witty and smart guide for living with style, sophistication and often basic common sense and decency.  Mine sits alongside the copies paying homage to Jackie, Grace and Audrey and serves as my go-to guides of how to be a woman of grace and substance when life around you provokes you to be anything but.

Mary Tomer ended her blog in 2014 but the final State Dinner pulled her out of retirement to make the following profound and true statement:

Style will be just one constituent of Mrs. Obama’s broader legacy, but it’s certainly more than a footnote, more than fluff. What captured my attention in 2008 and held it for years after was Mrs. Obama’s knack for using clothing as a visual medium to communicate, the message democratic, diplomatic, and diverse. The First Lady challenges convention and adds unexpected depth to the seemingly superficial.

I couldn’t agree more.  As we say goodbye to Michelle the First Lady, I look forward to watching Michelle the global citizen.  I am interested to see how she and President Obama navigate their forthcoming empty nest, the causes they champion,  the opening of his Presidential Library and of course, what she will be wearing.