Belfast Telegraph

The first ladies of fashion who say it with style

By Aisling O' Connor

Samantha Cameron, Catherine Duchess of Cambridge and Michelle Obama are among those with the highest profile engagement schedules in the world. Fashion press and fans alike watch their every sartorial move.

From the get-go, all three first ladies wowed the press with their own personal style but most recently have caused rumblings with the re-wearing of pieces and looks at public events. Where there are most definitely sky-high wardrobe budgets and designers banging the door down in the hope of global exposure, are these ladies revolving their wardrobes strategically?

Sam Cam: Sleek-onomic in 2008 Joseph and bargain price tag high street

Sam Cam has got style chops ahead of the bunch, having recently hosted a finale party for London Fashion Week at Number 10. Although she hasn’t been much of a headline grabber so far, with a sister on the inside at Vogue UK, no doubt Samantha is well on her way to fashion icon status. She’s all about professional attire with modern clean lines with big splashes of colour, quite like Miranda Hobbs from Sex and the City.

But make headlines Samantha did last month with a sleek-onomic look at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. While her PM hubby spoke about Britons reducing credit card debt, there she stood in a 2008 Joseph skirt, and two on-sale pieces from upper-end high street brands, Whistles and LK Bennett. She hit the right tone not just with that red and pink combo but with a nation who doesn’t need to see its political leader’s wife walking around wearing a month’s mortgage on her back.

Duchess Kate: In the sold-out Reiss engagement dressagain

Not a politico wife as such, Kate of Cambridge is the future Queen of England and therefore the same fashion stalking rules apply. With a style tastefully described as classic and refined, many call her this generation’s Grace Kelly.

Dubbed ‘The Royal Recycler’, Kate has barely worn an all-new outfit since her April wedding to William. Key pieces re-worked include her white Reiss dress from her official engagement photos later worn with a bizarre maple leaf hat for Canada Day, and the black and white print Zara dress for a friend’s wedding in June 2011 previously worn out to a club ‘pre-Duchess’. There is such an old lady vibe to Kate’s revolving wardrobe. You’ve got to love it.

Kate re-works a little Zara number

Unfortunately for Kate, her Vogue cover allegedly being vetoed by the Queen contributes to the general opinion that she is on a tight leash, fashion and conduct-wise. Her looks have not strayed from the pricey shift dress and LK Bennett sensible courts. Even with the odd smattering of McQueen, there is a feeling that she’s dressing for the palace rather than the public.

Clearly under scrutiny from the palace to not turn out like Diana and with pressure from the public to be a fashion icon, perhaps Kate’s style statement is reworking classic pieces from a modest yet elegant wardrobe. Not a bad way to breech the palace/public expectation gap.

Michelle Obama: Fabulous FLOTUS Fashion

Michelle Obama, Shelly-O. How could you not fall head over heels for this down –to-earth sassy mom? FLOTUS reflects a style that harks back to Jackie but with aggressively modern twists. She plays with colour, silhouettes, prints and even wears leather.

Michelle’s signature style is accessorising and layering with cardigans, t-shirts, belts and bangles. A big advocate of the American designer, she is most often seen in Jason Wu, Michael Kors, Isabelle Toledo & Narciso Rodriguez.

With the US economy still in recovery and President Obama on the campaign trail again, fashion-beacon Shelly has started recycling her iconic looks too. Last month Michelle donned her Maria Pinto cerise pink dress for the president’s address on jobs at the joint session of Congress.

Michelle airs her iconic Maria Pinto

This is the dress she was wearing at that historical moment when Barack got his Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2008. Recycling a look that recalls her husband’s first success in the presidential race, at a speech on employment - we are dealing with a very smart woman here.

To the wives of the world’s most prominent leaders and royalty, dressing with purpose is vital to a public image and fulfilling a political agenda. So these three are getting down with their people and re-wearing their clothes. No one wants to be dubbed the next Imelda De Marcos.

It’s a new era in politics, business and culture. They not only support their high profile husbands but they bat for their home-nation fashion industries and are respectful to their economically challenged publics. The world is hurting at large and the first ladies are falling in.

Belfast Telegraph


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