Pearls, the most ladylike of adornments, are a classic fashion accessory. When I started thinking about pearls, what I like and dislike about them, my mind soon focused on Michelle Obama. Whether or not you admire her wardrobe choices (and oh, I do) it's hard to deny that she is a true icon of American style.
Mrs. Obama's pearls frequently feature an unexpected twist: oversize, layers, paired with other stones. Also, Mrs. Obama does not fear faux pearls, as long as they are lovely. Let's look at a few highlights:
When her husband claimed the Democratic nomination in 2008, Mrs. Obama showed off her best assets: bare arms, whittled waist, luminous smile. I love the contrast of the Barbara Bush-style oversize faux pearls with the black Azzedine Alaia belt.
Tons of sparkle, millions of pearls.
First of all, the cardigan and striped tee she's wearing are from The Gap. Secondly, I want a strand of opera length pearls, too. Finally, she wore the same cardigan a few days later to harvest the White House vegetable patch with a group of school children. See: there is no shame in wearing something that works well over (and over) again.
This statement necklace by St. Erasmus, which Mrs. Obama wore with a fuchsia Michael Kors sheath to the White House Correspondent's Dinner, is astounding. It's a combination of freshwater pearls, Swarovski crystals, and a fine gold wire thread. To read more about it, check out mrs-o.org.
Finally, Mrs. Obama was recently honored by the Council of American Fashion Designers. In her videotaped acceptance speech, she wore a classic white oxford shirt and a double strand of pearls. She says that the ingenuity and craftsmanship of American designers contributes to our economy and culture; this creates a global influence that exports the American spirit in addition to fashion. It's revealing that she thanks American designers for making fashion liberating, inspiring, but "most of all fun." She proves that you can be a wonderful mother, a smart woman of strong values, that you can have a successful career, and still look fantastic. Inspiring.