Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My wish came true! The First Lady wears vintage!

When President Obama took office, I had sights on Michelle. Why? I truly felt she could make a difference in the world of thrift. Maybe it was her personal background. Or maybe I sensed she was not afraid to make a statement.

I made various attempts to contact her to endorse thrift shopping and join us in petitioning to honor a commemorative, American Thrift Store Month. We have a Frozen Food Month - that'd be March - so I thought it not asking too much. I've loads of schemes: grassroots designers recycling thrift sweaters and men's shirts, thrift fashion week, a parade of homes outfitted in thrift, daily tips on thrift...

But I can only imagine there are thousands of people attempting to have the First Lady endorse their cause.

Imagine my delight when the news hit the celebrity circuit that Michelle Obama wore a vintage dress to a holiday event! Some are claiming she is the first of her line to wear vintage. I'm not really certain if that could be true for it hasn't been that long ago that wearing old or reused items was considered tacky by culture at large. Think about how Coco Channel got her start.

Here is Michelle Obama is in a beautiful design circa 1950's. Bought at New York Vintage in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City, co-owner Jon Schneck noted, "Other dresses from our archive have been scheduled for use by the first lady later this year". What! More vintage is to follow?

This dress is classic, posh, elegant, feminine, and full of grace and a delicious dignity! Yes! Dignity and style do not need to be enemies when it comes to womens fashion! Tears of joy are forming in my eyes! Look at her! A timeless beauty!

Thank you Mrs. Obama. I certainly am eager to see your next vintage ensemble and have no doubt you will pull it off in spectacular style.


Anonymous said...

What a simply stunning dress! And timeless, too.

Wishing you and yours a truly wonderful Yuletide. I look forward to reading so much more of your insightful writings in the New Year.

Warmest regards

Ms Wanda said...

Vintage has landed! Such a gorgeous dress too. Hurrah!

Van said...

She pulls it off beautifully. I love the texture and color, she looks amazing in this vintage dress.

But I wonder, how much did it cost. Wearing vintage is recycling and preserving the past, which is good. You buy from vintage re-sellers and keep them in business, another positive.

Yet, this dress looks incredibly expensive. Is it really "thrifty" if the dress cost a fortune?

Shopping Golightly said...


I see your point, but a little context might help.

It is not confirmed but, it is estimated she paid $2,500 for it. Remember, this is a 60-year-old designer original. Absolutely one of a kind. And it is timeless and a dress that makes everyone stop when she enters a room.

Imagine what a NEW designer original {that will probably fall apart in five years) would cost today. Probably quadruple the amount of Michelle's. Think about Elvis or Liberace's attire. [Shiver] Would anyone buy any of those and expect to be taken seriously at a gala holiday event?

For us, $2,500 can cover monthly living expenses. But in the celebrity world? Ha! It's like a day at the spa with tips. Ridiculous but true. So not only is Michelle daring to wear re-used couture, but - hard to believe - she is being thrifty about it.

Take it down to our economic level when I wore a 60-year-old suit to the Colorado Womens Chamber of Commerce annual awards luncheon (a friend scooped me in). I received more compliments on that suit then I've fingers and it probably cost less than many of the bras women were wearing at that event.

So, as first lady, Michelle is starting a healthy trend. Like the organic garden at the White House. I was shocked that the place DIDN'T already have one for the kitchen. They're feeding heads of state from around the world. Doesn't the chef want the vegetables to be as fresh as possible? A tomato, lettuce leaf or green bean starts losing its best taste at the very moment they are picked. I'm not talking about having a slaughterhouse behind The White House but a pretty garden that produces good stuff.

Someone said...

Super gorgeous! And I kind of like the dress on the right too, it looks vintagy as well.

As for re-use, I just got this new-to-me computer yesterday...we have many computers at our house (husband is a software engineer), and if/when we need to replace one, we buy used. His main desktop is a "darned sock" at this point, having been replaced part by part over at least 10 years. To my honey's credit, he is not a "run out and buy the latest upgrade" guy, which can be rare among computer geeks. He still doesn't have a "smart" phone and doesn't even want one (and he's only 33!)

Yay for the secondary market!

Anonymous said...

I love the dress and also that Ms Obama is promoting vintage clothing. However, she is not the first high-profile woman to be proud of wearing secondhand. When Sarah Palin (disclaimer: I am not a fan of her politics) entered the scene back in 2008, she sported several outfits that she proudly told people she had gotten from her favorite consignment store in Alaska. Too bad the political machine found it unacceptable and gave her a clothing/image budget to get a NEW spiffy wardrobe.

I wish she had maintained her "Mama Grizzly attitude" about her choice of used clothing.

Looking forward to seeing more vintage on Obama though :-)

Shopping Golightly said...


My husband is a software engineer too. And he smartly elects not to rush out and buy the latest gadgets. Good grief! If he did, we'd have paid out enough for a home in a year.

We buy old/new printers on Ebay. Our TV is even thrift. It's not that much of a part of our family so it doesn't deserve to be a big part of our budget.

Second hand is so smart, I'll bet Yoda would endorse it.

Shopping Golightly said...


With the exception of Michelle's new statement, politics has been no friend to vintage or reuse.

A few years ago, former Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave ran an "poor me" television election ad stating that she had to wear "secondhand clothes" as a child.

It was one of our first posts: http://thethriftychicks.blogspot.com/2008/11/secondhand-clothes-used-as-poor-me-in.html

Anonymous said...

Last month my daughter gave a concern in an elegant dress (Talbot's brand) she purchased at a consignment store for $20. She had it hemmed professionally, which added another $12 or so dollars, but it was well under what the dress would have cost even on sale. Lots of times special occasion wear has been worn just once (or even not at all), so even fussy shoppers can feel comfortable buying something that is really nearly new.

Anonymous said...

It's Norman NORELL! Geez, at least get his name right. I've noticed in the FRENZY for everyone to appear righteous about wearing vintage and thrift, that NOBODY bothered to check out the info on the designer, Mr. Norell, who was a premier American designer likely decades before anybody commenting on this entry was born. How disheartening to read such self-serving, disrespectful, and egotistical shoulder-patting. Ms. Golightly, please check your sources before you reprint such fol-dol-rol. You are too much of a smart lady to get taken in by such political/fashion propaganda by hysterical youth.

Megan said...

I think that it's great that the First Lady wore vintage and let everyone know. Of course, several stars have been doing this for years. Think Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore, Sharon Stone, Barbara Streisand, Mandy Moore (hello to those under 25, she's a great model for vintage), Winona Ryder (from what I've seen, always elegant combining vintage & new) & even Michael Richards (Seinfeld's Kramer).

Why is this a great "new" thing since the 1st lady is doing it now? We all seem to hate the excess of celebrity, but they are (& have been) going vintage for some time. Streisand apparently got into it in 1997 & seemed to start the vintage craze. Julia Roberts made the best dressed a few years back b/c of her vintage dress. Heck Sharon Stone even has vintage cashmere sweaters remade into "new" cashmere sweaters.

Stars vintage is probably not as "thrifty" as say you or I, but also think of how much they are making...it's all relative.

Anonymous said...

It's certainly nice to know the designer, so thanks Anon. I reread the original post and for the life of me could find no disrespect in omitting the designer's name. I think the point for this forum is that there's quality in vintage and when the First Lady embraces the idea and the media embraces the choice as newsworthy it indicates that thrift is okay for folks in small doses and for specialty items like classic fashion by 'known' designers. It's trend information as much as anything.

Still, it adds spice when someone takes umbrage over some oversight, perceived slight, or seemingly off-kilter point of view, so thanks again for that, Anon. I really like the energy, tho I deplore the tendency to make disagreements personal in order to make a point.

Anonymous said...

To the other "Anon" who so sternly corrected re: the designer, whatEVer. Designer stuff yeah, thrifted designer stuff potentially better. Ultimately it's whether or not the clothes suck, and the statement of resurrection. New isn't necessary. Jump off the hamster wheel.

If just 10,000 Americans seeing that dress think twice about how something old they already own is worth holding on to (over buying something allegedly newer, hipper and better) then that's OK in my book.

I hope The First Lady takes it to the next level, and has a ghost thrift shopper. Just think, a whole new engine for our economy, secret thrift shoppers! Not only could the unemployment rate go down, but the use of re-purposed items would go up ;-)

suzieQ said...

She looks so lovely and has such style; I think her creative spirit comes through.
I once read an article about American's preoccupation with new and perfect. If a sweater has a tiny hole-get rid of it. If a chair is worn because of use, toss it to the curb. The article was explaining how, in Europe, old, worn pieces are kept and used. This is the essence of thrift to my way of thinking. If I love something in my home, it doesn't have to be the latest style.
I hope that the White House garden will not be plowed over in the near future but will be a part of the landscape in Washington.

Anonymous said...

In her defense, Palin was proud to say she shopped at consignment stores and did NOT use the petty sentiments of Marilyn Musgrave. I remember the consignment store owner in Alaska saying that the whole family shopped there on some new program. Again, not a fan of Palin's politics, but she deserves credit for her positive promotion of second-hand clothes.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that was supposed to be news program, not new program, lol.