White House Fashion

Yesterday, Marketplace ran a fascinating report talking to author Kate Betts about how the White House is influencing fashion.

Ryssdal: [Y]ou call it “approachable” at one point in this book. And I’m going to quote a friend of yours, you got an exchange from her at one point. Mr. Obama had been seen in a sort of informal jacket or something, and this friend of yours wrote to you and said, “You know what, I don’t want my Presidents to be approachable.”

Betts: Well, that’s interesting because the President has such an historic place, obviously, in this country….

Ryssdal: Do you see that being reflected in fashion trends and in style trends?

Betts: Oh absolutely. His use of color, the way he wears such beautiful colors so easily. Designers for spring have completely embraced that idea and you see color all over the runways….

Ryssdal: There are those that will listen to this interview and hear that it’s about style and fashion and clothes and kind of dismiss it as not substantive.

Betts: For some reason in this country there is this notion that style and substance should occupy two separate planets, really. And I think that actually Barack Obama is proof — living proof — that you can be stylish and substantive and you don’t have to make excuses for one or the other.

Oh, silly me, I got that wrong — the entire interview was about Michelle Obama. I should have realized, given how much discussion of First Ladies revolves around their sartorial choices. Next time I’ll remember that articles about Presidents are about what they’re doing and articles about First Ladies are about what they’re wearing.

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