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Shelley O Watch, Day 3


Hurricane Shelley is still barrelling through Europe and we've got the goods and the opinions to go with them.

The first ladies Michelle Obama (in a Thakoon coat and Thakoon floral silk jacquard dress) and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (in a Dior suede coat) at the NATO Summit Arrival Ceremony at the Palais Rohan.

She looks SPECTACULAR. Shelley honey, until you hire us as your Secretaries of Taste, we'll give you this advice for free: ONLY wear tailored looks at ALL times. It's not just that it's the most flattering style for you because it goes beyond merely being flattering. It's the one style that makes you look incredible. Now throw out those horrible Mamie Eisenhower dresses and stick to the Jackie Kennedy look, mkay?

Case in point:

First Lady Michelle Obama (in a Jason Wu dress and a Junya Watanabe cardigan) and Prime Minister's wife Sarah Brown (in some horrible, ill-fitted, cheap-looking, off-the-rack, office manager's drag) visit the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in London, England.

We'll get to the cardigan in a minute, but seriously, girl. Those full skirts don't look good on you at all. Ditch them. And can we say, we become less impressed with Jason Wu with each dress of his she rolls out? They all look like old Simplicity patterns.

Before we proceed, let us just say this: We are THRILLED to have a First Lady who's got some style to her. It's been decades since we had one. Nancy Reagan was arguably the last stylish First Lady, but her looks have all become so dated. Prior to that, you have to go all the way back to Jackie herself. It's BECAUSE she's stylish that we feature her so much and it's because she's clearly learning as she goes and making mistakes along the way that she's so much fun to write about.

Having said all thing she really needs to work on is how to pair up pieces. Her matching skills are mostly awful. She has a tendency to pair pieces that are different shades of the same color. Now, there's nothing wrong with a little tone-on-tone when it's done correctly, but she rarely does it correctly. A light blue cardigan over a teal blue dress over greenish-blue shoes is eyesore inducing. Honey, pick a color on the opposite side of the wheel every once in a while! Everything doesn't have to match! Have Stacey and Clinton taught you NOTHING?

Believe it or not, we think the cardigan has the potential to be quite chic. We just don't think it's meant to be worn with a dress like that and to be perfectly honest, it's a little too "edgy" for a First Lady to pull off. We could see this cardigan with a pair of skinny jeans or a tight little pencil skirt, but the whole "deliberately askew" thing doesn't work for her. Still, we give her credit for trying something a little different, especially since we suspect this was a bit of tweak to all those bitches like us who criticize her ever-present cardigans.

[Photos: Getty Images/]

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You're on target, as usual! Poor Mrs Brown. And I'm not liking Carla's ensemble, either--suede bathrobe?

Oh, Honeys. Thank you for pointing that out.

I absolutely HATE that coat. HATE IT, HATE IT, HATE IT.

You say Mamie Eisenhower, I say Queen Mother. She's too young, and has too much of a fantastic shape to be wearing something so old and dowdy looking. That beautifuly-tailored dress is a primary case in point.

And I like the asymmetrical cardigan. She just needed a better dress underneath it.

And pardon me if I'm mistaken, but aren't those the same green Jimmy Choos that she wore for the inauguration?

Just wanted to say thanks. I really enjoy reading your blog.

Also, suede bathrobe! That's what I was thinking. I don't care if it's Dior, it's a sad sack. Also, don't like Carla's hairstyle at all. You would think she could find something more flattering.

I don't like the argyle cardigan with that full skirt. As TLo mentioned, it would be cute with a different outfit. But I don't like the full skirt at all...with anything, it's just making her look bigger than she probably is. The tailored look is more flattering.

I really like the pink/violet color dress on Michelle, that color is great. Also, I like Michelle's hair and makeup. She always looks appropriate.

Thanks, TLo!

Agree with you. That Thakoon dress is perfect for for our gal. And thank you for posting about her. There's something so fresh and warm and appealing about this couple and it, honestly, NOT just the politics.

Myra Flection

Thanks for the shots. Can't say as I disagree with anything stated here. That silk dress is gorgeous on her!

Makes me want to start singing about the new "Rainbow Tour".

What do you think that Sarah Brown was thinking as she launched herself into that skirt?

Is that cardigan buttoned wrong, or is that my imagination?

AGREED, guys! That magenta dress is fantastic on her. That blue look, not so much. What was she thinking with that cardigan with that dress and those shoes??? Seriously, oy vey.

One thing I find so refreshing about her, though, is that (to use a Stacy-ism) she "embraces color". Perhaps a little too much, but ok. She'll get there.

Would give a LIMB for the raspberry dress-and-coat ensemble, but I don't think I could carry off the color as well as Mrs. O does.

I'm surprised that y'all didn't go into the horror that was the BACK of this cardigan. From the photos I've seen, it either has some weird, inexplicable pleating detail, or she is wearing some kind of weird microphone/security device that has a wire up her spinal column, or someone with poor tailoring skills was trying to take it up with safety pins, and then she had to rush out on stage and they didn't get a chance to finish it.

Explanations, anyone?

Mrs. O. also needs to work on her posing-for-photo-op skills a bit. Remember "frame your back, not your stomach" from elementary school dance class? NO ONE looks good with their hands clasped in front of them like that. I'm surprised Carla B. didn't set a better example.

While I like the idea of a first lady wearing something so "daring" as that cardigan (I mean, face it: on a first lady it's practically avant garde), it looks ridiculous.

Loved the Thakoon dress, but not the coat.

Now what about Carla Bruni's dress? Not so hot.

I love a good cardigan, but that harlequin cardigan was simply awful. But the reception she got from all those squealing schoolgirls rendered the argyle invisible. Genuinely touching.

I do agree that she should stick to the more classic/tailored look, as those dresses make her look truly stunning.

But I cannot help but think, again, that she is, in fact, dressing down - being modest - so as not to outshine others. I think that indicates true confidence. It's great to FINALLY have a First Lady to be proud of.


The dress looks fab on her, the coat not so much.
I do love Carla's Dior coat though, it looks soooooo soft. I assume it is some kind of suede. I wonder what she wore under it.

I also notice that Bruni has on flats so she will not be taller then her wee little husband.

Girl needs a cardigan intervention. Maybe she's honoring the Queen's Cardigan Corgis?

That sweater and dress don't go together like rama lama ding dong at ALL. The dress might be cute on it's own and on someone else, but it's not working here.

Love love love the Thakoom dress on her. Not so much the coat. But at least she didn't throw a belt over it.

I love you guys! And I love your Shelly O watch. And yes, that Thakoom dress is glorious.

I had read somewhere (which I can't find now that I need it) that she is traveling with an entire entourage, which includes her hairdresser and a stylist, so there should be no excuse for some of these combinations. That being said, she definitely should stick to classic, tailored pieces. For the most part, she looks fine, though. Totally appropriate for these times in this economy.

oops, spelled Thakoon incorrectly.

and while i'm doubling up on posts, I ditto gothamtomato.


I love Michelle's outfit for today, the coat and dress are divine!!!
I am conflicted about yesterday's outfit: I like the cardigan and the dress, but indeed they don't work together. But it definitely shows that she is confident enough to show some pizazz in her wardrobe choices.

Anonymous 11:20 said...

"... aren't those the same green Jimmy Choos that she wore for the inauguration?"

Good call. I think they are, and I didn't like them then either. They appear to be teal patent leather. Not a good combo.

That said, I love that we see her wearing the same things multiple times.

oh my gosh! follow the link to the cardigan.... it is $800!! and indeed there was no problem with her buttoning it, it is asymmetrical on purpose. they show it in a purple combination, somehow I like the blue/teal better.

Please find a picture of what Ms. Bruni was wearing under that coat, and post it! I'm dying to see the dress.

I love the Thankoon dress. It really suits her. The coat is very nice too.
I think the Jason Wu dress would be very pretty on her with out the cardigan or with the black one she wore to meet the Queen.
The Watanabe cardigan IS edgy (thanks for the link). I think the concept is two sweaters, one sporty one dress, sewn together . I agree it would look good with a straight skirt, or how about a fitted sheath of English tweed?

Anybody (else) having trouble with the comments or is my computer buggy?

TLo said:

"They all look like old Simplicity patterns."

"Prime Minster's Wife Sarah Brown (in some horrible.., office manager's drag)"

Gold. Pure Gold!
Thanks, boys!

I'll say it again, I LOVE cardigans. But that one is HORRIBLE! And $800??? Yuck. I love how she looks better than the "first lady" of France though since I'm pretty sure she used to be a model. if you follow the link to the cardigan you can see that the back of it IS supposed to look like that. i also prefer her blue/maroon version to the magenta/navy on the boutique web site.

i personally like mid-century-style full skirt dresses, but wish we could see the whole thing on her! i'm assuming it's sleeveless.


WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREE. Wish I could pull off a pencil skirt the way she does!

did you see the reaction of Oscar de la Renta to Michelle's fashion designer choices?
wow! some people think they are entitled to something!

Sewing Siren,

I had trouble too - had to switch from Internet Explorer to Firefox.


As to to the Sarah Brown outfit. Her figure isn't that bad, but she really needs a slip and foundation garment with that dress. The thin jersey fabric is clinging to the stockings . If you are even slightly overweight or slim with a protuding abdomen you never what to wear a skirt that hugs you just below the bulge.

Spot on. I gasped when I saw her in that Thakoon piece. Absolutely divine. And she downright OWNS that color.

Double kudos for ditching the pearls just this once.

you guys are so right.
the asymetrical cardigan... dary. especially in England.

Carla looks a bit on the frozen side.

potty mouth princess

I can't stand the floral coat, but FLOVE the dress. I've never seen her look better. She'd also look absolutely fabulous and classy in violet (maybe for a gown at a State Dinner).

That cardigan is horrid and yeah, she has hips, but she also has a gorgeous waist and legs up to her neck that most women would kill for. Mamie Eisenhower skirt indeed. Ugh. But compared to Mrs. Who Forgot My Spanx Brown, she looks like Jackie O.

What happened to Carla Bruni? The grey totally washes her out and speaking of washing, it doesn't look like her hair's been washed for a few days. Reverting to modeling days and the coke binges that may have went with them? Triple ugh.


Thakoon dress, yes. Coat, a BIG no. Reminded me of a grandmotherly housecoat.

Ms. Obama. Ms. Brown. Put down the PDAs, the phones, and focus. Ladies, listen UP! There are fashion professionals for good reasons. Most people are not good at figuring out what they will look like in an outfit, can't even see themselves objectively standing in front of a mirror. And virtually NOone except the pros can visualize how something will photograph.

It may be stunning on another woman, it may be the most amazing piece of fascinating design and execution ever to emerge from a designer's brain. It may even be your very favorite cut or color in the whole wide world that everyone has told you you look marvelous in since the 4th grade.

You are married to world leaders and are no dopes yourselves. GET HELP. (And don't forget the power of posture.)

mommyca said...
did you see the reaction of Oscar de la Renta to Michelle's fashion designer choices?
wow! some people think they are entitled to something!

Oh, I am very disappointed to read that remark from Mr. de la Renta. He of all people should know that you do not have to be born in the US to be an American designer.
Isabel Toledo is Cuban born, but has been struggling in the US fashion industry for 20 years! About time that someone took notice of her.
Jason Wu was born in Taiwan, but his fashion business is based in the US. Only 23 y.o. good for him!
Thankoon Panichgul I believe was born in Thailand. His business is also based in the US.
I have know idea if they are naturalized Americans, but does it really make a difference? Their business is here, and therefore it is American fashion.

In terms of style, she looks light years ahead of all of the women she's been photographed with, especially Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who knows better.

Why do you call her Shelley?

The woman gets enough disrespect from the freakright blogs to annihilate the souls of a thousand.

Somehow I expected better for Michelle from the two of you. :(

I love her jacket and the tailored dress. She looks better than the Mrs. Sarcozi. Ha!

I'm glad she stepped it up for France! :)

The Thakoon dress is a stunner and possibly the best thing she's ever worn. Don't love the coat but it works as an ensemble. And just as a point of interest, in Thakoon's recent collection for Target he did a similar black and purple coat - I have it. Of course the Target coat is much, much cheaper and made with inferior materials no doubt, but it's still a great buy and a chic look.

The cardigan is ridiculous. One of her big missteps is that she repeatedly wears things that are much too young and edgy for her. This would be the case even if she wasn't First Lady but since she is they're just absurd.

And for those who object to calling her "Shelley" even though it's obviously done with affection, please take the giant stick out of your ass. She's the wife of an elected official, not a saint, and there's nothing wrong with this at all.

Anonymous @ 1:55 said...
"And for those who object to calling her "Shelley" even though it's obviously done with affection, please take the giant stick out of your ass. She's the wife of an elected official, not a saint, and there's nothing wrong with this at all."

ShelleyO is an official TLo title. Personally, I think that they should have it copywrited. I love it!

You know --and I say this with total Michelle love-- I wonder if she's slightly colorblind. Her mix-n-match sometimes goes off the rails, but that kooky cardie was cool and perfect for her visit to the girls school. What she told the girls about never cutting class and loving to get A's. She's just letting her inner-nerd shine out.

One key element of the Barack & Michelle cool is that they're both dorks! Said with love.

She really hit the chic target with today's look. Carla was smart not to even bother getting dressed.

" Sage said: Why do you call her Shelley?

The woman gets enough disrespect from the freakright blogs to annihilate the souls of a thousand."

But this is NOT one of those freakright blogs (though occassionally a rightwingnut shows up).

If you cannot see that Tlo have dubbed Michelle 'Shelly O' as a term of endearment, then I don't know how you can get through the vagaries of an ordinary day.


Okay, let me say before all else that I love Mrs. Obama, and I applaud her for her patronage of young American designers and for her chance-taking.


And I say this as Tim Gunn would - with love and concern, not to be nasty.

But that Thakoon coat is a lotta look, even on her. And it looks even worse next to Carla's sedate gray.

The dress looks good, but it's too tight both through the sleeves (look at the draglines) and the torso.

And that cardigan - hmmmmm.... I thouht it was buttoned wrong.

"Why do you call her Shelley?

The woman gets enough disrespect from the freakright blogs to annihilate the souls of a thousand.

Somehow I expected better for Michelle from the two of you. "

As others have mentioned, lighten up, it's a term of endearment. It is also a reference to that other stylish first lady, Jackie O. Get it, Shelley O, Jackie O??

I am stunned that Carla Bruni didn't "BRING IT". She looks like a wrung out old chamois next to Mrs. O. Was she advised to tone it down so not to appear trying too hard? A way to downplay the media's attempt @ a manufactured "fashion smackdown" as they called it?
The Thakoon ensemble is amazing. Must find it, STAT!

(sotto voce)
We won't discuss what's underneath the cardigan (which would have been kicky in a different context).
It's the polite thing to do...

PS: Wow, Mr. de la Renta, a slice of cheese w/ that whine? I adore him, buy his line a lot, but give some of the kids a chance! I honestly don't think given his preeminence he's got anything to worry about (though given his statement in that article, maybe he does).


Love the dress under the coat-the coat is meh to me.

Definitely ditch the full skirt with the cardigan-I agree with TLo that the cardigan has possibilities - a pencil skirt comes to mind.

Regards Oscar de la Renta's comments: my my my, who left the sour grapes on the table? After all, he dressed Hillary and Laura, as well as two other women in identical outfits. What, it bothers him that someone new might be coming up?

While I have always loved his styles, I feel a good deal less charitable towards him now.

PS - Michelle should start meeting with some of her favorite young designers for more precise fittings. As a bonus, I like imagining her hanging out at Isabel & Ruben Toledo's studio! That's a fun thought.

Oscar de la Renta has had his bitch pants on since the inauguration. He was very unkind about those looks.

Plus, (couldn't read the whole story without subscription) WWD says "some" in the industry are complaining that she doesn't reach out to Donna, Ralph and Calvin Klein. The fashion bitch gloves are off!

Michelle would look fab in Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein, though, wouldn't she?

Oh! I'm a dork. Now I see you can get the WWD thing from HuffPo link above.

Lots of fashion panties in a twist, I see.

I actually like the cardigan but not with the full skirt. It's definitely better with pants or a pencil skirt. Your pictures really show the difference, due to the way they're cropped.

Love the magenta dress even if it has a couple of fit issues.

I guess I'm the only one who likes Carla B's suede coat?

Carla looks like she's wearing a salon smock-- her hair sure looks like she's waiting in line for the next available shampoo boy.

Mommyca: thanks for the link!

Wow. Sense of entitlement is spot on.

(Kudos to Donna Karan:
"I hope to be able to dress her, and not only dress her but address her, sit down -- I'm interested in her totality as a woman.")

On another note - I totally feel the love with the moniker Shelly O!

First: THE CARDIGAN! I actually love it, BUT, I would not under any circumstances wear it with that dress. I don't care who designed the dress (Are you listening Mr. Wu?). It's not flattering at all. My choice would be a very good looking, well tailored pair of black or charcoal slacks.

The Thakoon coat and dress, gorgeous. Even though I am rarely a fan of flower prints, Shelly O looks like a beautiful bloom next to Mrs. Sarkozy, who disappointingly looks dull and drab. And, OY, Mrs. Brown, please order some Spanx!!!
Thanks for the Friday Treat, boys!!

Breaking news! Michelle Obama apparently has bangs. A reporter at the Chicago Sun Times just put out a call to area hair stylists to comment on her new do: Michelle Obama has bangs! We want to hear from professionals whether they like it or not, what bangs say about a person, and if they think this will start a trend. (To see a picture of Obama, go to

Some sort of a trend...? You mean like it has been for about 2 years now? Hmmmmm....

Now see, this is why the Sun Times is going under. They should focus on the news and let the professionals handle Shelley Style Watch!!

This comment has been removed by the author.

Does anybody know who designed the LBD she wore later on this evening? Because I really want it in my closet.

another laura

sixgables wrote:

"Girl needs a cardigan intervention."


I love that MO is evolving and I hope to see more of her style as this presidency moves forward =)

I love your insights which are honest without being vicious and mean. As usual =)

I know some people have been having an issue with her wearing the same Jimmy Choos - IMHO, there's nothing wrong with wearing the same shoes with a different outfit. I think it sets the right tone in these economic times - you can chic and fabulous and not broke at the same time =)

Poor Sarah Brown - dowdy one day and ill fitting the next. She desperately needs a new hair style as well...

I love the dress; I'm not so crazy about the coat. Thanks for the post, Tlo! I hadn't see these pictures yet.

As soon as I saw Michelle in that stunning dress I said to myself, "I bet they've written this up on PRG" and you guys didn't disappoint. I'm getting a huge kick out of your posts about her, and about Europe's reaction to her. It's nice to have a president and first lady that people actually like for a change.

I think the cardigan looks really juvenile. I also like the full long as they're not coupled with a cardigan that would be better suited for one of her grade school-aged daughters.

Agree about the Mamie Eisenhower dresses doing NOTHING for her figure. And also agree that that floral Thakoon coat looks like my grandma's housecoat. I love that she's wearing something other than a red skirt suit, but... she needs someone to moderate some of her more out-there choices.

Actually I thought FOR HER AGE, that Barbara Bush has alot of taste. (Too bad she instilled too much of her own taste into the much younger Laura Bush.)

She was always very stylish and those pearls are the perfect accessory to everything she wears. It's her trademark and nothing wrong with them.

Mary, I'm sure you've found this already, but per Cathy Horyn, it's Azzedine Alaia. So if you MUST have it in your closet, it'll probably cost you. Definitely not JCrew.

I wish I could get in Michelle's closet and mix and match. I would take the black Jason Wu swing coat that she wore to meet the queen and pair it with the fuschia Thakoon dress of today.
My main problem with Michelle is I wish she would edit more. She has a laudable adventurous fashion spirit that just needs a little restraining. Less is more with Michelle.
Sometimes she really hits it out of the park; tonight's black evening outfit at the NATO dinner is the bomb. Her hair especially looks great, with flirty, modern looking bangs. And TLo, did you guys see the brown off the shoulder Narcisso Rodriquez at a recent WH function. Impeccable! Google it, she looks gorgeous.

OK, here's the Narcisso Rodriquez off the shoulder number that I just mentioned. This is one of my all time favorites,body hugging perfection.

Okay, seriously boys, you are making me reconsider my fashion wardrobe so much lately. Cardigans and just-below the knee black skirts are ALL I wear! Maybe I need an intervention too....

But seriously, I love that Michelle Obama takes such fashion risks, so I give her snaps for that. But you're right--she needs to err more on the side of that fierce tailored dress and less on the side of tone-on-tone frump city.

Love the cardigan...not with the dress.

Believe it or not, that's the best I've seen Sarah Brown looking these last few days. I sort of love that she clearly doesn't care about fashion, and certainly in the UK media she rarely appears at all anyway. Unlike Cherie Blair who always tried too hard and failed spectacularly, Sarah Brown basically just dresses like 90% of British women who also buy their clothes at M&S. It won't win any prizes, but it's also not particularly newsworthy.

I think you're quite right about Michelle Obama and the fitted look. That full skirt looked awful, not to mention the matchy-matchy problem with the cardigan. But I agree, it's fun to watch her learning and having fun with it.

"I think the cardigan looks really juvenile. I also like the full long as they're not coupled with a cardigan that would be better suited for one of her grade school-aged daughters."

I really think that when we see what she is wearing it helps to remember the function she is at. She wore that fun dress and cardi to a girls school for an "arts" program. Mrs. O does make mistakes (those blue boots with the fur?ugh) but this outfit was fun, made her look approachable and probably helped her connect with the girls.

What she wore to meet the Queen the other day had to go from tea to dinner so the cardi (not J. Crew) made it less dressy for tea and then later for dinner she ditched the cardi for the simple, but elegant dress underneath.

Carla Bruni looks incredibly french and fabulous

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