Since 2008, African-American women have taken pride in the fact that the First Lady is finally someone who looks like them. Not only is she smart; she’s also beautiful. And ask any sister, and she’ll tell you First Lady Michelle Obama can dress.
“Essence” magazine’s editor-at-large Mikki Taylor knows what it takes to have that kind of flair for fashion. She put it in her new book Commander In Chic: Every Woman’s Guide to Managing Her Style Like a First Lady.
MR. MARTIN: Well, Mikki, welcome to “Washington Watch.”
MS. MIKKI TAYLOR: Thank you. Love –
MR. MARTIN: Well, what –
MS. TAYLOR: — hearing you say that!
MR. MARTIN: — what caused you to say, “You know what? I” – “I need to put this together”?
MS. TAYLOR: You know, I – I – Roland, I was so inspired by the First Lady, and I think her philosophy concerning style is one that I think should work for every woman. I want every woman to embrace a clear-cut assurance. Mrs. Obama is comfortable in her skin. She’s established a dress code that works for her. And no matter trends that come and go. She’s always in.
MR. MARTIN: Well, the thing that ju- — that – that I think is key [is] you – you y- — you – you use a word, “style.”
MS. TAYLOR: Yes.
MR. MARTIN: There’s a difference between fashion and style.
MS. TAYLOR: Oh, my God – absolutely. And if women so got that, their lives would be totally simplified. You know, I can’t imagine the First Lady ever having to wear – worry about what to wear. And we don’t have time for that either, so it’s about that dress code. How do you establish what works for you? What is your style? Are you a romantic? Are you like Mrs. Obama, who has a classic-with-a-twist style? And once you know that, it’s about extending our wardrobe, cr- — or creating that mileage-making wardrobe, rather, that allows you to get dressed – and effortlessly – and always be ready to go.
MR. MARTIN: Mikki, Carl Lagerfeld made some comments about the First Lady that took some people by surprise, where he was critical of what she had to wear. What do you make of what he had to say – his comments?
MS. TAYLOR: You know, I think the mistake that designers like Lagerfeld and others make is that they expect Mrs. Obama to be the so-called trendsetter – or, trend follower, if you will; and she is, rather, a trendsetter. And she really has established what works for her. I love how she lives in this glass bubble, if you will; and, yet, it doesn’t matter to her what others think. You know, she has – unlike other first ladies, she’s made the cardigan, as opposed to a suit and jacket, her staple. She embraces a dress, which is her style star. She’s usually, 90 percent of the time, in a great dress. She works a little, black dress from day to night. The duster coat, which she’s shown that you can have another coat in your life other than a trench coat.
And I talk about all these things in the book, and I simply said that to say that she’s not trying to be anyone else’s fashion plate. And so that’s a big message that, again, I wanted women to take away from Commander In Chic: define your style, stay in your lane, and work it to death. And that’s exactly what she does. She does it so well, that she’s the first First Lady to make what I call those “repeat performances” in that you’ll see her in that great dress again and again and again.
MR. MARTIN: Yeah, which the average person does all the time.
MS. TAYLOR: Absolutely! Who buys a look for a single occasion? And that’s another thing I say in the book. Don’t do that, unless it’s your wedding.
MR. MARTIN: [Chuckles.] Absolutely.
Folks, the book is Commander In – I call her “chic.”
MS. TAYLOR: Yes.
MR. MARTIN: She’s – call it “chic.” Every Woman’s Guide to Managing Her Style Like a First Lady.