Michelle Obama is one of the most fashionable first ladies in history. (She also of course graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School, and has spearheaded initiatives to help young people worldwide gain access to education — an extremely cool woman in many ways.)
Now that she has left the White House and won’t as frequently be photographed in show stopping gowns at state dinners and government events, admirers can still glimpse her unique outfits — picks from emerging designers, on-point athleisure-wear, and chic travel looks — as she globe trots and pursues the causes she’s passionate about outside of DC. Here are some of Michelle Obama’s best looks since she left the White House.
Elegant Inauguration Day crimson coat
While she wasn’t fully out of the White House just yet, Michelle Obama ended her White House fashion years with a classic, tailored long red coat on Inauguration Day in January 2017. The (hopefully warm) outerwear and matching long red short-sleeved dress underneath were both from designer Jason Wu.
As Teen Vogue highlighted, this was a statement, as Obama has frequently championed Wu as well as other fashion insiders since she became first lady. She brought the then-26-year-old designer into the national spotlight when she wore one of his gowns to her first Inaugural Ball in 2009, and chose a Jason Wu gown again for the Inaugural Ball in 2013.
Color block maxi
At her first speaking engagement after January’s Inauguration, Obama took the stage at the American Institute of Architects conference in Florida in the same signature style that made her a fashion icon from the time she first emerged in the public eye.
She wore this long, loose color-blocked dress in gray, white, and taupe. As Vogue notes, Obama is “continuing her commitment to promoting the best in homegrown design talent” in this piece from Lafeyette 148, an American label based out of New York.
One-shoulder gown at the Kennedy Center
The formal, one-shoulder royal blue dress that the former first lady wore to the Kennedy Center in May 2017 is classic Michelle Obama. When President Barack Obama received the John F. Kennedy Profile In Courage Award, Michelle was by his side in one of her favorite style gowns.
As Yahoo Style notes, she also wore one-shoulder gowns at her first Inaugural Ball in 2009 as well as a number of state dinners during her tenure in the White House. This particular outfit featured one long, flowing, cape-like sleeve and was paired with dangly chandelier earrings in a matching primary blue hue.
In the president’s speech, he lovingly thanked Michelle for her companionship and hard work for the country, saying, “I also want to thank Michelle Obama for after the presidency sticking with me because I think she felt an obligation to the country to stay on. But once her official duties were over, it wasn’t clear. I love my wife. And I’m grateful for her. And I do believe that it was America’s great good fortune to have her as first lady.” And based on this photo from Boston Globe photographer Keith Bedford, he seemed pretty fond of her outfit too.
At MTV’s National College Signing Day event, Obama’s outfit was all about her alma mater: Princeton. She wore a v-neck gray T-shirt emblazoned with the college’s name and tiger mascot. To complete the ultra-casual monochrome look, she wore gray cropped skinny jeans, a comfy, draped gray sweater, gray bracelets, and gray sneaks. And is that even a gray manicure?
This is a hip, everyday look. The kind we don’t usually get to see a first lady wear. But it’s cool to see that Obama’s strong sense of style extends to her less formal appearances too.
Vacay one-shoulder blouse
Now that the Obamas are out of the White House, they are all about vacations. And it makes sense — it probably takes more than a weekend away to recover from being president and first lady. Think about how many episodes of Gilmore Girls the average person needs to watch to recuperate from an averagely busy week at work.
While the Obamas have been all around the world (and Time has a handy timeline of their vacationing), there haven’t been too many photos available of Michelle’s vacay outfits while chilling on Richard Branson’s yacht or petting exotic sea turtles in French Polynesia.
But social media has highlighted some of her great looks while vacationing in Italy, including this beachy pink one-shoulder top by Teija, which the designer shared on Instagram. Vogue explains that the top, which Obama wore to an al fresco dinner with friends in Montalcino, “felt worlds away from the structured dresses she wore while her husband was in office — though no less chic.”
On-point athleisure wear
Hey, have you heard that Michelle Obama loves to exercise? It’s just this random, little-known fact about her that only hardcore biographers or anyone who has lived in the United States over the past decade has probably heard about.
Well now that Obama is a private citizen, she’s keeping up her public love for working out. On Instagram, she explained that she puts together bootcamps with her female friends where they can all exercise together no matter their fitness abilities. She wrote that while she started this tradition at the White House, she’s keeping it going now: “My girlfriends have been there for me through all kinds of life transitions over the years – including a pretty big one recently! – and we’ve done our best to stay healthy together.”
And you’ll notice from the photos that, no surprise, Obama has great workout outfits to go along with her passion for moving, like the cropped pants, matching orange and white tank top, and black cap she’s wearing above.
Cutout bodycon at the ESPYs
At the ESPY Awards in July 2017, Obama wore a custom, form-fitting Cushnie et Ochs dress to posthumously present the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage to Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
This is a glam look with interesting, dramatic cutouts around the neck. And may we all be as capable of chicly and boldly pulling off body-con when we’re 53. Vogue notes that this “fresh new take on the LBD” is paired with modern earrings and a ring from jewelry designer Jennifer Fisher.
Floral Tanya Taylor
The designer Tanya Taylor is all about strong women, and even recently launched a line of extended sizes after being inspired by a collaboration with Aidy Bryant on a size 18 dress. So it’s no surprise to see the designer’s work on another powerful role model.
Obama wore this flowy, flower-covered, light (even… millennial?) pink wrap dress at an event for the Women’s Foundation of Colorado. And according to Vogue, those oversize earrings are Simone Rocha and the heels are Jimmy Choo. The dress also kind of matches the vibe of the chair she’s sitting in, which probably wasn’t planned… but when you match your chair, you know you have a look.
Solo yacht traveling
While Labor Day weekend might bring to mind barbecues and pool parties, for Obama it means solo vacationing on a yacht off Spain. Not bad. InStyle reports that this pic was taken while Obama was boarding a yacht during a trip to Mallorca. Obama can be seen wearing a high-waisted, extremely high-slitted coverup skirt and a crop tank, along with a Madewell tote bag and oversized shades. No shoes, of course.
Later in the day, InStyle reports, she kept with the beach vibe when she changed into “a LBD perfect for summer” along with “a hat we’d honestly like to borrow.” Will we be exposed to more Beachy Michelle now that she isn’t stuck in DC?
Since Michelle Obama has been out of the White House she’s still bringing awesome looks and lesser known designers to the public. Hopefully as we get to see her participate in a wider array of activities in private and public life, she’ll keep inspiring us aesthetically and in many other ways. Like, basically all of the ways.
And if you’re missing that Michelle Obama glamor in your life, now you know how to nail her signature style: rip off one of the sleeves of your favorite outfit, put on some matching bold-colored earrings, grab your biggest vacation accessories, run some laps, and empower somebody.