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Fashion-forward first lady turns backward — to vintage

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.

“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.”