Jan 25

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Michelle’s coat-suit – Color “Experts” Disagree

There’s been a lot of controversy and discussion about the ensemble First Lady Michelle Obama wore to the Inaugural Balls. Some say it’s yellow, some say gold, while othrs call it lemon grass. It looked like a warm yellow with subtle warm green undertones  to me . Experts noted that  the fabric’s shimmery surface made it appear to change color.  Even Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, would not commit herself to classify the color with a name. She noted the coat had “somewhat of a shimmery surface, which can pick up the light and throw the camera off.”

Most of the so-called color experts missed the whole point. Was the color warm or cool? Was it a pastel or  a primary-type color? Was it muted or clear? These are the questions that should be asked when it comes to  choosing colors for people, if looking better is the ultimate goal. Because she nearly blended into her garments, this coat-suit wore Mrs. Obama instead of her wearing it. Thus, the impact she generated was decreased.

Michelle Obama has cool skin, so the warm yellow-green fabric wasn’t as flattering to her as other shades of yellow. For example, a clear bright yellow that is one step down from the color wheel Yellow in terms or intensity and warmth. Her suit was also a pastel, and she looks better in clear, saturated,  primary-type colors such as royal blue, emerald green, purple, violet, fuchsia and magenta, to name a few.

Women are “instinctively” drawn to pastels, even though they do not necessarily make us look better. Nor do they increase our presence.  The darker the color, the higher the authority, so pastels convey low authority. There is a time and a place for pastels, but I think that it’s not Inauguration Day. Pastels are great for meeting your future in-laws. I would suggest wearing a pastel suit to traffic court when you get caught for speeding. You will look much more innocent than in a “power” color. It worked for me!

Permanent link to this article: http://sandydumont.com/michelles-coat-suit-color-experts-disagree/


  1. Nik

    I just gotta chime in.

    Mrs Obama’s inauguration day fabric actually had no shimmer to it whatsoever. The lace pattern used was investigated and it was revealed that it had no shine. It was the effect of light hitting on the white fabric underneath the lace overlay that gave the effect of shimmer. How nice it would be to see it in real life versus television.

    Also, I really think that gone are the days when people had to wear intense saturated colors to a hugely dignified event. It reminds me of a throwback to the 1980’s when people wore suits in intense, jewel tones. Think of the effect that would have made: Mrs. Obama would have seemed untouchable when the goal is to soften her appeal, allow her to express her modern individuality, make her more approachable and make people feel more at ease towards her.

  2. Sandy Dumont

    A lot of people feel that “understated” is the best way to look chic and elegant. The best way to look chic and elegant is to wear the colors and styles that suit you. Our First Lady’s green ensemble did not flatter her skin; it made her skin look a bit sallow. The fashion world is perpetually enamored of understated colors, except during the brief periods when primary clors are “in.” However, I never advise clients to choose colors or styles according to whether or not they are in fashion. Being “in fashion” is not the same as being “eternally fashionable.” I would have preferred seeing Mrs. Obama in a more flattering “understated” color such as navy blue – or even a wonderful red, the color of life itself. After all, fashion is about “making a statement” about oneself. I think the First Lady is perfectly suited to the rich royal purples (a regal color) that she has been wearing. And this is definitely not an understated color. When YOU wear the colors and garments, instead of them wearing you, that’s when you draw people to you.

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