Mary Tomer is the first to acknowledge she's not the biggest fashion follower — or she wasn't until Michelle Obama burst onto the media scene. Since then, Tomer has become an almost daily chronicler of the first lady's wardrobe on her blog, Mrs-O.org, which now boasts site traffic from 221 countries and territories.
Tomer says she created Mrs-O to keep tabs on the outfits, accessories and designers that were reinvigorating the American fashion world. She learned so much, she says, that it's all become a new book “Mrs. O: The Face of Fashion Democracy” (Center Street).
It includes commentary, photos and interviews with designers Jason Wu, Kai Milla and Michael Kors, among others.
"I don't work in the fashion industry and other than me studying the pages of Vogue, I don't have a lot of information about it. I started with Style.com, sometimes got a few leads on what she was wearing," says Tomer, a 28-year-old brand strategist at an ad agency.
Fast-forward a year and Tomer finds herself in the loop, sometimes getting word on what Mrs. Obama is wearing straight from the designers. Otherwise, followers of the blog offer tips.
Tomer recalls last summer, when Mrs. Obama wore a Merona for Target dress, one user wrote into Mrs-O and said she had the same dress from a few seasons ago in her closet.
It's exactly because people relate to the first lady's fashion choices — with her eclectic taste and high-low mixes — that keeps the public so interested, Tomer says.
She's mostly a fan of Mrs. Obama's clothes because she's "stylish, modern and polished."
"I am a total sucker for glamour, and there has been some occasions with super high-wattage looks. I loved the orange-gold Rodarte dress in Copenhagen — that dress was classic, timeless and perfect for fall," she says.
Tomer has borrowed a few ideas from Mrs. Obama's wardrobe too:
She's now wearing vintage brooches instead of necklaces.
She wears flats with dress-up outfits.
She wears belts to create a feminine silhouette.
Tomer has visited the showrooms of some of Mrs. Obama's favorite designers and has spent countless hours studying the actual garments. "I now appreciate high-end designers," she says. "The craftsmanship of something like a Jason Wu dress is incredible."