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Manuel Balce Ceneta  /  AP
First lady Michelle Obama and her mother Marian Robinson pose with children dressed like elves at the National Building Museum in Washington, on Dec. 12, 2010. Michelle Obama wore a vintage Norman Norell dress.
updated 12/17/2010 3:18:58 PM ET 2010-12-17T20:18:58

It’s not old, it’s vintage.

No matter what you call it, it’s believed to be a first for the sitting first lady to wear a frock with, well, a bit of a past.

Michelle Obama’s stellar style led her to wear a thrift-store find for the “Christmas in Washington” concert, which was taped on Sunday and will air this evening.

The high, square-neck number from famed American designer Norman Norell had a fitted bodice and full skirt, all in black lace. The piece is believed to be from the 1950s and was purchased at New York Vintage, a shop that considers itself a source for some of the finest vintage couture and designer clothes and accessories worldwide.

Shannon Hoey, owner of New York Vintage, told TODAYshow.com that the dress was chosen for the first lady by her unofficial style consultant: Ikram Goldman, owner of the tony Ikram boutique in Chicago.

Sources in the apparel industry estimated that the gown cost no less than $2,000 and could have cost much more.

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“We’re honored to be part of the first lady’s wardrobe and truly happy to be a part of what’s believed to be the first time a first lady wore a vintage gown,” Hoey added, “It’s very green [to wear vintage, hence recycled, clothing], and the quality of these pieces is unmatched.”

Obama’s love of high fashion and support of mainly American designers and brands has led many of these companies to increased brand recognition almost overnight. The Council of American Fashion Designers recognized Obama with its Board of Director’s Special Tribute in 2009.

“She clearly is a woman who loves to dress up and picks clothes according to what she’s doing,” designer Diane von Furstenberg, president of the CFDA, told TODAYshow.com. “It’s nice that she has a sense of style.”

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

Photos: Michelle Obama’s effortless style

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  1. Michelle Obama's effortless style

    The first lady looks as sophisticated in designer dresses as she does in outfits from J. Crew. Take a look at her great style:

    First lady Michelle Obama and her mother Marian Robinson visit with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan at the Diaoyutai State guest house on March 21, 2014 in Beijing, China. (Andy Wong / Pool via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Ping-pong fun

    Michelle Obama plays table tennis at the Beijing Normal School, a school that prepares students to attend colleges overseas, in Beijing, China on March 21, 2014. (Andy Wong / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Welcome to China

    Michelle Obama waves as she and her daughter Sasha leave their plane at Capital International Airport in Beijing on March 20, 2014. (Alexander F. Yuan / Pool via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Green day

    Vice president Joe Biden, first lady Michelle Obama, and Irish Prime Mininster Enda Kenny's wife Fionnuala O'Kelly smile during a St. Patrick's Day reception in the East Room of the White House on March 14, 2014. (Ron Sachs / Pool / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. We're green with envy

    Kermit the Frog is welcomed by Michelle Obama at a screening of Disney's "Muppets Most Wanted" on March 12, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Win Mcnamee / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Seeking shades

    President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama make their way to board Air Force One before departing from Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead, Florida on March 9, 2014. (Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Pretty prints

    Michelle Obama delivers remarks during s workshop titled "I'm Every Woman: The History of Women in Soul" with (L-R) Grammy Museum Executive Director Robert Santelli, and music artists Melissa Etheridge, Janelle Monae and Patti LaBelle in the State Dining Room at the White House March 6, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Jump to it

    Michelle Obama sports a chic black jumpsuit during an interview with Jimmy Fallon on Feb. 20, 2014. (NBC; Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Pretty as a painting

    Michelle Obama, in a bold print skirt, is escorted by Rose Cameron, CEO and founder of WAT-AAH!, a line of bottled water targeted to kids and teens, as they view the "Taking Back the Streets" art exhibit at the New Museum in New York on Feb. 20. (Richard Drew / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Snow bunny

    Michelle Obama skis at Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen, Colo. on Feb. 15. This is the third year in a row that Michelle Obama has vacationed in Aspen over the long President's Day weekend. (Chris Council / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Ultimate elegance

    President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, in a dramatic Carolina Herrera ball gown, arrive at a state dinner at the White House on Feb. 11. The dress featured a sheer black top with hand-embroidered and beaded appliques and sleeves that dipped just below the first lady's elbows. (Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Lady in red

    First lady Michelle Obama, French President Francois Hollande, and President Barack Obama wave at the balcony of the White House on Feb. 11. (Alex Wong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Deep green

    Michelle Obama, in a hunter green Azzedine Alaïa dress, waves next to U.S. Army Ranger Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg, who was injured while serving in Afghanistan, prior to President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech in Washington on Jan. 28, 2014. (Joshua Roberts / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Vision in blue

    First Lady Michelle Obama smiles as she listens to President Barack Obama speak at an event on expanding college opportunity in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington on Jan. 16, 2014. (Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Bold bling

    Michelle Obama wore a festive lucite necklace while speaking about education in underserved communities in the State Dining Room following a screening of the movie "The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete" at the White House on Jan. 15, 2014. (Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image: First Lady Michelle Obama Travels to China - Day 2
    Andy Wong / Pool via Getty Images
    Above: Slideshow (15) Michelle Obama's effortless style
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    Slideshow (8) Kate Middleton's style secrets

Video: First lady’s most memorable fashion moments

  1. Closed captioning of: First lady’s most memorable fashion moments

    announcer: yeah. carry on.

    >>> wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of president obama 's election, and over the course of the year, first lady michelle obama has become a fashion icon . this month's " harpers bazaar " takes a look at the first lady's top ten most memorable fashion moments. avril graham is the fashion editor. good morning.

    >> good morning.

    >> seems like we've been spending more than a year talking about her fashion, but let's get to it.

    >> exactly.

    >> so, she's played with a lot of different looks. what is it about her style that has become so iconic and relatable, too?

    >> i think the fact that she's very experimental. she's not the stiff, traditional, boxy suit first lady. she has those moments where she's a little bit more dressed up, obviously, but those downtown times, also, she looks so chic.

    >> and she mixes up high end with like j. crew , so well.

    >> exactly. like a regular lady.

    >> let's look at the top ten list. first, of course, the inaugural gown by jason wu . why was this such an important look for her zlrks well, it's interesting because this is obviously going to go down in history. and traditionally, first ladies are so starchy, full of satiny, silks, and here she comes out with a frothy light look. and at first, everyone's like, is it more bridal, do we like it? but as you see it almost a year on, it stands the test of time.

    >> and the trend, one shoulder, right?

    >> and she looks so comfortable, too. it's not something you have to stand always to attention. she's comfortable. she went to one million ball after another. so, dancing and looking great. she looked fabulous.

    >> certainly made a statement. next, a gorgeous gown she wore at the governors dinner.

    >> i love this, because it's so fashion-forward. we see her with an up do, the metallics, layers of necklaces. it's one of the earliest gowns she wore as an evening dress , and i think it stands, again, the test of time, because we're thinking it shows that va voom figure, perfect toned shoulders.

    >> very jackie o. in that way, too.

    >> beautiful.

    >> next, this look she wore at the white house honoring stevie wonder .

    >> and this was designed by stevie wonder 's designer wife, camilla.

    >> oh, right.

    >> and again, it shows off the fact that she softens up her hair, the makeup slightly different. great, very flattering neckline. and uses a sort of umpire line as well, which is very chic and a great use of color.

    >> the color is gorgeous, okay. she was quite a hit in europe, of course, and she wore this outfit to buckingham palace , the black and white , ever so classic.

    >> yeah, it was. and actually, i loved it with the jason wu upper coat. the toledo is the day dress she wore for the inauguration. the monica look, fabulous. i would love to see her wear this gun. she obviously wore it to meet the queen.

    >> that's the other thing. she's been known to wear things twice, which is relatable to all of us.

    >> i'm always saying on this show, we have to shop our wardrobes, but add a little pep.

    >> exactly. and she certainly does.

    >> classic. she looks so chic and gorgeous.

    >> next, the visit to germany, where she met german chancellor angela merkel .

    >> this is the day she met angela merkel , who is not known for her fashion prowess, exactly. and she wore a two-piece. and i loved it with the coat off and this use of a modern take on a chic dress. great, sort of shiny fabric. it's modern, elegant, it's chic and it's very her.

    >> very black and red , which she also wore on election day, too. okay, now, date night in new york. here she jazzed it up. very chic.

    >> yeah. she's wearing --

    >> sassy.

    >> what can i say, that's a fashionista's favorite.

    >> wow.

    >> it's fabulous. if you're going on a date night, who doesn't want to look like this? va voom gorgeous. she looks chic, beautiful. she's got a great accessory, a handsome husband, too. and just that little pop of color with the little clutch and acres of bangles. she looks fabulous.

    >> okay, now, d-day commemorations in france. she wore this beautiful white dress.

    >> you know. as a european, i kind of love this, because not only did she wear a light color, a bit -- princess diana used to do things like that. she used to surprise us at somber moments with like a different hat. she's wearing white to d-day commemorations, and wow, does she not upstage two other nations' first ladies? carla bruni from france, sarah brown from england.

    >> real standout.

    >> she looks amazing. she's upstaged them both with this great white look.

    >> okay, then here at the white house , again, back in bright colors.

    >> i just wanted to show this, because the modern take, again on a chic dress by moises delaurenta. favorite of laura bush , actually, the father was. and i think this shows that you can be traditional, you can be chic, the makeup works, and the idea of this matching belt. she just looks quite fab.

    >> again, the monochromatic look, which works so well.

    >> and he's accessorized with that red tie, too. so, they must have a conversation at the closet, i think, perhaps.

    >> avril brown, thanks so much for sharing these images with us. appreciate it.

    >> my pleasure.

    >> the november issue of " harpers bazaar " is on newsstands now.

    >>> coming up next, find out


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