Wardrobe Oxygen: Michelle Obama Fashion Inspiration Goes Beyond Basic Black


I have often written on my blog about wardrobe staples and I feel that every woman should have a simple black dress in her wardrobe. Owning such a dress means you’re ready for a wedding, a funeral, a date or a cocktail party.

However, sometimes it’s nice to go beyond basic black. And one of those times is the holidays. Right around the corner is the season for eggnog, mistletoe and wining and dining with friends. While you could use a simple LBD to ring the season in with style, choosing color can add a festive touch to your ensemble while also making you stand out in a crowd.

Take a cue from Michelle Obama, who at the South Korea state dinner stood out in a sea of black in her ultraviolet one-shouldered gown from designer Doo-Ri Chung. Her choice of a must-notice color allowed her not to have to rely on sparkly jewelry, a fancy updo or unique makeup. The dress was elegant yet relatively simple, letting the color steal the show. Choosing a color for your holiday party ensemble means you will be more likely to find a dress at a price that is wallet-friendly. Like Michelle Obama, you can let the color steal the show and worry less about labels or unique silhouettes.

Here are some great colorful cocktail dresses that are also at great prices:


One-Shoulder Drape-Front Dress from Newport News.

This gorgeous rich berry color is flattering to so many different skin tones, and will look great with everything from strappy silver and gold heels to simple black silk D’Orsay pumps. With the striking one shoulder and elegant pleating, accessories should be kept to a minimum.

Such a dress will make people think you’re wearing a designer gown, when actually the dress is only $79.00. This dress is a fabric and silhouette that can be worn year-round–meaning you will get even more for your money with this dress!


Dress With a Flounced Skirt from Zara.

Zara is a fantastic place to shop for on-trend garments at a far more reasonable price than designer. Now that Zara has an online store, this brand is accessible to all, regardless of location.

This modern orange dress is so stylish and show-stopping with the bright color and bold silhouette. As seen on the model, there is no need for many accessories–just a shoe in a soft metallic or contrasting color. While a similar dress could retail for $500 or more, this one from Zara is a cool $89.90.

Even better, come Spring pair with a nude heel for a great warm-weather look!


One Shoulder Long Gown from American Living.

No need to blow an entire paycheck when you’re invited to a Black Tie affair. Matte jersey is a budget-friendly fabric, and can dress up with ease (if you don’t believe me, Michelle Obama’s state dinner dress was made of jersey!). This gown from American Living for JCPenney is only $89.99, but incredibly elegant and sophisticated.

Strategic draping adds interest while whittling the waist, a modest slit is feminine while still leaving much to the imagination. Red is a great color for holiday parties, wear with soft metallic heels and simple earrings for a simple elegant look, or up the glamour factor with long jet beads and black satin platform pumps.


Kimono Maxi Dress from Victoria’s Secret.

While I find much of Victoria’s Secret clothing line lacking quality and style, I have had much success with their dresses. This maxi dress is a wonderful choice for one who would like to show less skin but still look elegant and festive.

While the Eggplant is a lovely choice, I am partial to Olive, which would be positively stunning with a modern gold necklace and platform heels. A similar dress from a department store brand would be at least $250 while this version is just $98.00.

Get more miles from this dress by pairing it with wood beads, a brown camisole and tall boots for a daytime glamour look.

What are some ways you incorporate color into your evening looks? Share your style tips in the comments!

Alison Gary has over ten years experience as a personal shopper, stylist, and visual merchandiser. Her blog Wardrobe Oxygen provides fashion advice to all women, regardless of age, size, budget, or lifestyle. She is a full-time working mother, blogger, wife, and frugal fashionista located in the Washington D.C. area.

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  1. ChuckG

    4 years ago

    Can’t go wrong with a simple black dress, as Coco would say.


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