Thrifty! First lady wore $35 H&M dress on TODAY

Just how approachable is the first lady’s style? Michelle Obama once again made her mark as ambassador for affordable fashion when she appeared Wednesday on TODAY in a $34.95 H&M polka-dot frock from the Swedish clothing company’s current collection.

Known for her fun, casual style, Michelle accessorized her dress with a red leather belt and bright yellow shoes — an ensemble that had fashionistas and fans alike praising her coordination. When questioned by TODAY’s Matt Lauer about  being called a fashion icon, the first lady responded that while’s she complimented, it’s not something she prefers to give too much attention to.

“Everybody's got to get dressed in the morning and put on something,” she said. “I hope people find it nice, but it's not something I focus on."

The first lady made waves in the past by choosing outfits from popular retail companies. In 2008,  she wore a $148 black-and-white, high-waisted print dress designed by Ricco — sold at White House, Black Market — on “The View." The frock sold out virtually overnight and put the designer on the map. Since then, she’s worn everything from J.Crew cardigans to Target dresses to designer Thakoon gowns.

An outfit donned by Michelle Obama offers immense exposure — and business — for retailers. According to New York University finance professor David Yermack, the first lady generated roughly $2.7 billion in value for the fashion and retail companies whose products she wore for over 189 public appearances between November 2008 and December 2009. It’s like the Oprah effect — but for fashion.

“It means so much to this country to see a first lady who understands that we are having tough economic times, and she is part of it,” said TODAY style contributor Stacy London in a 2009 TODAY interview. “She is representative of it and can still look great and convinces other women to look great, too.”

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