First Lady Fashion Face-Off: Cindy McCain vs. Michelle Obama

Tune out the pundits and celebrate the frivolous side of democracy with some first lady fashion.
Michelle Obama at the Democratic Convention (August 25, 2008) / Cindy McCain at the Republican Convention (September 4, 2008)
Michelle Obama at the Democratic Convention (August 25, 2008) / Cindy McCain at the Republican Convention (September 4, 2008) - Getty Images
Nora Ashkar

If you're like me, you'll do anything for a break from the current climate of politics and party wars. But with all the campaign ads, chatty commentators, scourging political movies and SNL sketches, there seems to be no escape. So with only two weeks to go -- when hibernation is not an option -- let's celebrate the frivolous side of democracy with some first lady fashion!

It's fair to say that both potential first ladies are sophisticated, well-spoken and beautiful. Both Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain embody the characteristics associated with the title of first lady. And while they let their husbands do most of the talking, these women show their true colors through their wardrobes.

cindy mccain fashion

Representing the Republicans, Cindy McCain is a reserved and sophisticated gal who oozes southern charm. She hails from a conservative party, and while the style of her clothing is conservative too, the fabric and colors lean more towards the showy side. Cindy usually opts for traditional and well-tailored skirt-suits, but most of the ones that she's sported have been in bright colors and shiny silks. With their sheen and shocking palette, some of the ensembles could seem over-the-top on other women. But Cindy McCain has a certain regal air about her that allows her fashion choices to be bigger and bolder. The designers she wears have styles that can easily be described as All-American: Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera, Escada, and of course, Oscar de la Renta. My favorite part -- and perhaps the most recognizable aspect of Cindy McCain's look -- is her hair. Whether it's half up or pulled back into an elegant French twist, her bleach blonde locks assure me that she's a lady who knows how to kick it GOP style. Because most of us cannot pull off such an exclusive style on an daily basis, it serves as a reminder that the role of first lady is iconic and cannot be filled by just anyone.

michelle obama fashionOn the Democrats' side, we've got Michelle Obama bringing approachable rather than aspirational style. Her husband stands for change, and that's something that Michelle embodies in her fashion sense. Her look is modern, but gives a nod to the icon of first lady fashion, Jackie O. With her simple sheath dresses and collarless cropped jackets, Michelle dresses in a fashion-forward manner that portrays casual elegance. While her pearls and flipped-out do are quintessential First Lady, a ruffle halter, wide belt and pencil-skirt ensemble she wore was far more Lipstick Jungle. Michelle has also proven to be quite the trendsetter; she's already been placed on best dressed lists by People and Vanity Fair, and dresses that she wore sold out at H&M and White House Black Market. Although to be fair, I'm pretty sure most Americans simply couldn't afford Cindy's silk designer styles, even if they wanted to emulate them.

Regardless of whose fashion you prefer, it's fair to say that both women have boldly brought their personal styles to the presidential race and made politics a little more fashion-friendly. And remember: Whatever your politics, pearls are essential. American flag pins are fine, but multi-layered pearl necklaces are as Pro-America as you can get.



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