THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

August 26, 2008

That Dress

Filed under: Uncategorized — georgene @ 12:53 am

I don’t know about you, but I thought the Maria Pinto turquoise dress that Michelle Obama wore during her Democratic National Convention speech was spectacular. It’s right up there with the gown Marilyn Monroe wore to since Happy Birthday to JFK. Just wow! Iconic…

A quick analysis shows us that it is a dolman sleeve empire sheath.

The front view with the wide V-neck and 3/4 sleeve is alluring and modest at the same time.

But the profile and back view, mama mia, this dress is pasted on!

Now Michelle Obama is no tiny little thing, she is not only statuesque, but full figured. It is amazing how wonderful she looks.

I have to go thru my vintage patterns and see what I have that comes close to this dress. I waaaahnt one!



  1. The latest Glamour has a spread on political fashion (including a hilarious Rainbow of Clinton Pantsuits.) and they have a page with advice and comment on each of the possible first ladies.

    Comment by becky — August 26, 2008 @ 1:00 am

  2. It looks to me like a grown up version of the backless Lorick dress of Gossip Girl fame.

    Comment by Martin — August 26, 2008 @ 2:17 am

  3. Georgene, I think Vogue 8313 (the red silk brocade holiday dress I made last winter) is almost identical to Michelle Obama’s dress.

    Comment by phyllisc — August 26, 2008 @ 6:32 am

  4. One word: Spanx

    Okay, more than one word: she looks fab.

    Comment by Gorgeous Things — August 26, 2008 @ 6:42 am

  5. Vogue 8181 is pretty close. The back neckline would need to be adapted slightly but that’s it. I’m assuming that the fabric is a knit of some kind, at least that’s how it looked to me.

    She looked gorgeous!

    Comment by Nancy (nanflan) — August 26, 2008 @ 7:13 am

  6. Let’s hear it for the statuesque, full-figured women out there looking good! Phyllis, thanks for the Vogue pattern # and wouldn’t you know it, they don’t have my size 😦


    Comment by Carla — August 26, 2008 @ 7:15 am

  7. It’s confidence, attitude and perfect fit. You know that dress did not come with the rear just that size! I like her guts, frankly. Wouldn’t it be great to be voting for her?

    Comment by judithgr — August 26, 2008 @ 7:27 am

  8. Yeah, she looks terrific.

    Comment by Cidell — August 26, 2008 @ 7:46 am

  9. What do you think the fabric was? I am itching to make a classic dress like this but I want to try doubleknit. She looked fabulous, but I think she looks stunning 24/7.

    Comment by Lindsay T — August 26, 2008 @ 9:13 am

  10. Isn’t it interesting that after a quick look at patterns currently for sale most are not cut into this fitted shape?
    Are we seeing the begining of a change in silhoutte here?

    Fit: The logical way to get the back view to fit like that is princess seams–from empire waist to the hem. Her front view is nicely ‘flat’, so maybe the front view has darts to shape her midriff, rather than princess seams.
    The bodice fits into an empire waistline–the only way to terminate those princess seams so the bodice isn’t cut with them, too distracting. The bodice probably has small bust darts only.
    Pattern: This can be drafted off of a basic sloper, especially a sheath pattern with princess seams that terminate at the armhole. I don’t see underarm gussets, so the armhole is deep enough not to need them.
    Fabric: The upraised arm shows really soft folds, I’m voting for a knit (cashmere?). It could be lined with a lycra-type jersey.
    Perfect: wow, and so how long do you all think it will take for this ‘look’ and silhouette to hit the stores?

    Comment by Jen O — August 26, 2008 @ 9:58 am

  11. I think it was either a heavy, spongy knit or even a light wool crepe. Michelle is definitely channeling Jackie Kennedy, even her hairstyle is similiar!

    Comment by phyllisc — August 26, 2008 @ 9:58 am

  12. I love the detail at the bottom of the V-neck. At first I thought it was a pin but now I’m wondering if it’s an open round hole with beads radiating out from it.

    I agree the dress is stunning; thanks for posting. I wouldn’t have noticed all the detail otherwise.

    How did you know the designer? You all amaze me!

    Comment by Mary — August 26, 2008 @ 3:48 pm

  13. Gosh, darn….I hate to disagree with such esteemed folks, but I was somewhat disappointed, considering she usually seems so well put together.

    Love, love, love the fabric color, love the neckline and the rear fit…. but as one who is especially concious about upper body/bust fit, I kept wanting to streamline the top front….where it kept folding beneath the bust… she did not fill up the top (see the horizontal lines in the picture of her waving above? I noticed it when she first walked out and almost could not listen to the speech I found it so distracting!

    I’m sure my preoccupation with fit had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I spent last weekend with tissue and muslins trying to get a SB Vogue pattern (1058) to fit my small shoulder but busty hourglass self.

    Good luck with your pattern search. It’s a classic style.

    Comment by emelle — August 26, 2008 @ 5:02 pm

  14. She looked incredible. At another major speech a couple of months back she wore something similar and I was blown away by her feminine body and how it carried the dress. This is the standard we need to strive for, a real woman, with real curves, and the brains to blow you away.

    Comment by Bunny — August 26, 2008 @ 5:43 pm

  15. I’d love to see some commentary on Hillary’s pantsuit … from a purely clothing viewpoint. Fit, fabric, overall image, color, etc. The comments about Michelle’s dress were fascinating – I loved the point Bunny made – and wonder if Michelle would/could have chosen the same outfit had she been running for the office of the President instead of speaking as the potential First Lady. This has been a great discussion and I hope it continues!

    Comment by Mary — August 27, 2008 @ 9:38 am

  16. Great Discussion!

    Admit- I had not thought too much about the dress-was enjoying what she had to say too much. But I really thought it was an interesting choice to have a large brooch and asymetric neckline. Politicians are usually soo symetrical.

    Comment by Kate — August 27, 2008 @ 9:50 am

  17. It was a great dress and looked good on her, but comparing it to the Marilyn Monroe dress? That is a whole different era, a different type of dress and MM’s dress, if I remember reading correctly, was actually tons of hand beading/spangles and so form-fitting it had to be sewn onto her to fit like a glove. Michelle Obama looked classic and professional, MM was a different screen personality, I fail to see a comparison, but agree the dress was very nice and made her seem real.

    Comment by Myra — August 27, 2008 @ 11:05 am

  18. Yes, I am comparing the iconic nature of this dress to MM’s dress. Not the sequins, but the visual impact. I think that we may still be seeing photos of this dress and referencing in 50 years, the same way we look back to that other one.

    Comment by georgene — August 27, 2008 @ 11:54 am

  19. She was definitely wearing at least two pairs of Spanx to get that smooth look. I’m not sure if I agree that it is a dolman sleeve….looks more like a shaped kimono sleeve (built into the bodice ft and back) with side gussets.

    Comment by YoungSally — August 27, 2008 @ 1:02 pm

  20. I actually don’t like the dress. I think it is too loose on top and too tight on the bottom. Great color though!

    Comment by Allison — August 27, 2008 @ 3:36 pm

  21. She looked exactly as she should, radiant and confident, her dress a compliment, not a statement of who she is. Perfect color for her skin tone and the top was a excellent foil to the fitted bottom. I liked the length surprisingly, as it’s a departure from the abbreviated baby-doll hemlines (which I love also). It’s a fine line to walk because had she come out in anything more daring or fashion forward that would have been the topic of conversation. If it had been more conservative, we would have said it was dowdy. It was just enough to keep us focused on the headline speaker she is.

    Comment by dei — August 27, 2008 @ 4:25 pm

  22. I must say that I found the dress too slouchy and seemingly ill-fitting for the import of the occassion. More something for a casual dinner party. Though she did well not to wear a suit. She needs to appear ‘wifely’ and not upstage her husband… which I think she could well do if she put her mind to it! Here here the strong women of today!

    Comment by Aunt Michelle — August 28, 2008 @ 1:54 am

  23. I think the bodice of this dress may be cut on the bias. It doesnt appear to have any darts, she is fairly small busted so can get away with it. I think the bias is causing the fold of fabric under her bust. It’s got a zipper in the back so perhaps not a stretch fabric. Its very plain but spectacular at the same time. I need some spanx.

    Comment by MaryJ — August 28, 2008 @ 7:32 am

  24. I have to say, I think Michelle Obama is the first sophisticated potential first lady since Jackie O’, and she completely knows how to dress! – Where busy chicks come to unwind…

    Comment by DivaGuru — August 28, 2008 @ 10:12 am

  25. What DivaGuru said. Michelle is HOT!

    Comment by Miss Janey — August 28, 2008 @ 1:18 pm

  26. OMG it looks like a relic from the 1980’s. Where is the real style? I think it looks terrible.

    Comment by Simple Grl — August 28, 2008 @ 6:19 pm

  27. No, this dress has everything I love. It’s understated elegance. 3/4 sleeves, V-neck, eye-catching color but not flashy, and the brooch in the right place…..I loved it.

    Comment by odumnobles — August 30, 2008 @ 9:34 am

  28. I don’t think that it fits her well at all. Nor do I think that this is particularly flattering. Great color for her though.

    Comment by Nancy Karpen — August 30, 2008 @ 3:02 pm

  29. According to WWD, the fabric is double-faced wool.

    Comment by Jen — September 1, 2008 @ 12:07 am

  30. I know this may be the wrong “place” but do any of you fab sewing divas know how I could turn a dolman sleeve into a regular-looking sleeve on an existing dress?? Thanks a million!!

    Comment by Erin — September 1, 2008 @ 12:14 am

  31. It’s not vintage but it might work: Vogue 8181

    Comment by lorrwill — September 1, 2008 @ 7:38 pm

  32. Erin – If you mean by “regular sleeve” a separate sleeve fitted into an armhole; that is actually pretty difficult to do on a RTW dress. The dress would need to be almost completely taken apart and laid flat to do that to do that accurately because a sleeve cap and armysce need to be drafted as a pattern, the existing dress fabric cut into the new pattern pieces and the resulting two sleeves sewn back into the dress. You’re better off sewing the dress you want from scratch – much easier.

    Comment by Phyllis — September 2, 2008 @ 7:01 am

  33. Agree! She looks great.

    Comment by WendyB — September 4, 2008 @ 10:08 pm

  34. I liked the blue dess but did think it looked a bit loose on top.

    I had a big problem with the dress she wore the next night. There were these round embellishments that were too big and looked like a ring of armour around her neck. I am not sure what the rest of the dess looked like because I got fixated on the neck.

    I liked the top part of the Wednesday night dress. Didn’t see the rest of it.

    Comment by Linda T — September 5, 2008 @ 12:28 am

  35. Well, a couple of things…. I didn’t particularly like the dress, it was just okay IMHO.

    However, I do think that she looks very good in her clothes.

    I disagree with the statement that she is ‘full figured’. I think that she’s tall, and smaller than the American ‘average’ figure. I’ll bet it would be surprising to see her IRL, and that if so, she’d appear a lot smaller…after all, the camera does indeed add poundage.

    As to the spanx statement, well it didn’t occur to me, but maybe. Since I wasn’t there when she dressed, I wouldn’t know, but based on the pictures I’ve seen of her, I wouldn’t be surprised if she wasn’t wearing them. Or was, for that matter.

    Comment by sewsy — September 9, 2008 @ 9:39 pm

  36. I agree with the comments about the bustline. I’m not sure at all about the broach, and the sagging chest made her look older then she is, but I think with a few alterations the dress could have been spectacular.

    Comment by Tommy — September 16, 2008 @ 12:27 am

  37. Loved the dress! I really enjoyed the comments! I love this blog.

    Comment by Sylvia — September 21, 2008 @ 1:32 pm

  38. Well, it did not take Vogue patterns very long to get this one out.

    Comment by TobyWollin — October 1, 2008 @ 11:29 am

  39. I dont know. I think some of you are on crack. This dress looked like a horrible flashback to 1992. The color and the fit were both disasterous. I think that about most of her outfits she wears. They never fit on top and they are of aweful style. At least Hilary’s pantsuits are from this millenium…

    Comment by artsyfartsyau — October 11, 2008 @ 10:22 pm

  40. She looks wonderful. She is an Intelligent, feminine and beautiful woman. Hope she could hear all these nice comments, all women like a bit self-esteem boost….

    Comment by Glo — October 16, 2008 @ 8:04 pm

  41. I don’t like anything about it; I think the color is overpowering and I don’t care for the fit, especially in the back. As an African American woman with a somewhat similar shape, one reason I’ve been trying to learn to sew is so that I’ll have more options.

    Thankfully, I’ll not be voting on Tuesday based on anyone’s fashion choices.

    Comment by Reader — November 2, 2008 @ 4:28 pm

  42. amen sister!

    Comment by reader — November 8, 2008 @ 10:04 pm

  43. […] the Obama’s meeting at the White House.  Michelle’s dress appears to be based on the same sloper as the blue Maria Pinto design she wore to the convention.  This version has a different neckline and sleeve length, and also is not as skin-tight as the […]

    Pingback by Learning from the Past « The Sewing Divas — November 11, 2008 @ 7:48 am

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