On January 21, 2013, the world watched as President Barack Obama was sworn in as the 57th president of the United States of America. The traditional Inauguration Day events kicked off with the president and his family attending the morning worship service and finishing up their duties well into the night at the Inaugural Ball. Every major news station covered all of the day’s events and analyzed how the president would perform in his second term. However, the headline that trumped all of the day’s activities, even the much anticipated inaugural address, was “What will Mrs. Obama wear?”
Michelle Obama has become a fashion icon in the last four years and has picked up the legacy that Jackie Kennedy left behind during her time as first lady. Whether it is her toned arms, energetic spirit or bold use of color, designers around the world are clamoring at the opportunity to have their artistic creations worn by Mrs. Obama. She has single-handedly brought in an interest to the White House that goes beyond politics. However, her choice of designers and clothing is somewhat political as well. She likes to choose American designers, especially young ones like Jason Wu, and support their development. She realizes that a woman of her stature has the ability to change the career of a designer overnight.
On Inauguration Day, every major news outlet and journalist, including CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper, were waiting with much anticipation as to what Mrs. Obama would wear throughout the day. Amidst the discussions of what the president would say to the people in his inaugural address, Mrs. Obama’s fashion topped the news. Everyone waited until the annual Inaugural Ball to see what gown she would reveal and she did not disappoint by wearing a stunning red number, made by Jason Wu, who also made her gown for the Inaugural Ball four years ago.
So, what does this ultra-focus on fashion at the nation’s highest level mean for business professionals? It means that even in the stuffiest and most “traditional” type of occupations, how you present yourself does not go unnoticed. The lines between fashion and the old business suite mentality are being blurred and it is becoming more acceptable to break away from the norm, especially in the PR industry. Granted, you still need to respect dress code policies, but professionals are finding ways to express their personal style in many ways. Whether it is using a pop of color or fun accessories, adding flair to your outfit while remaining put together is the new business dress code.
The next time your client or spokesperson has a press conference, speaking engagement or meeting with associates, remind them that appearance plays a role in their image. Getting a new hair cut or trying to find a new outfit the day before is never a good idea. You don’t have to be in a designer suite or dress, you just need to look well put together! Take some notes from Mrs. Obama and you will be well on your way to looking fashionable yet professional in the work place.
Article contributed by Shelcie Takenouchi