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Video: What will Michelle Obama wear?

By
TODAY contributor
updated 1/19/2009 11:36:43 AM ET 2009-01-19T16:36:43

Don’t bother asking Michelle Obama what she’s going to wear to her husband’s inauguration or the inaugural balls on Tuesday. Reportedly, the busy mom and first-lady-to-be doesn’t know herself what she’ll be wearing.

“It is going to shock women across the country,” NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie told TODAY’s Matt Lauer Monday morning. “I am told by a very good source that Michelle Obama has not yet chosen what to wear for either the inauguration tomorrow or the inaugural balls.”

Guthrie explained that it’s a matter of priorities. “The simple fact, as it was explained to me, is this is a woman who has moved her family three times in the last few weeks. She’s got a 7- and a 10-year-old,” Guthrie pointed out.

“Clearly, she has an array of choices, but apparently it’s going to be a game-time decision and Michelle Obama tomorrow — not even today, but tomorrow — will be in a position that so many women have been in, looking in their closets the day of a big event and thinking, ‘All right, which one should I wear?’ ” Guthrie added.

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What the first lady wears is a big deal to many, and the subject of debate beforehand and sniping afterward. It’s not a recent phenomenon.

According the The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, historians say that 148 years ago, Washington society tut-tutted over the extravagantly showy off-the-shoulder dress Mary Todd Lincoln wore to Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural ball.

The subject is important enough for the Smithsonian to have a collection of the gowns worn by first ladies going back to the white silk-chiffon gown Helen Taft wore for William Howard Taft’s inauguration in 1909.

Whatever Michelle Obama chooses to wear, it will be discussed and dissected by fashion critics, who still swoon over the sleeveless ivory sheath that Jackie Kennedy designed herself for her husband’s 1961 inauguration.

Video: First lady fashion Current first lady Laura Bush wore a crystal-embroidered red gown to her husband’s first inaugural ball. Nancy Reagan wore a $10,000 gown that designer James Galanos loaned her for the occasion.

And Rosalynn Carter, thinking she was being practical, got bludgeoned by the fashionistas for wearing the same blue chiffon gown to husband Jimmy’s inaugural ball that she had worn six years earlier when he was sworn in as governor of Georgia.

One final note: Michelle Obama will want something comfortable. There are 10 official inaugural balls that she and her husband will drop in on, and dozens of unofficial balls they could also decide to honor with a surprise visit.

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