From Publishers Weekly
Betts, a Time style and design contributor has been an avid observer of first lady Michelle Obama’s style since she first stepped into the limelight. More than a fashion handbook, this book serves as an exploration of the societal and political implications of Mrs. Obama’s style, a pondering of why style matters, and an argument for the notion that “[s]tyle is a part of the content of one’s character.” Betts parses the first lady’s choices of clothing (cardigans and floral dresses rather than navy blue pants suits) as well as her persona, from her warmth and openness to her decision to let cameras capture her hula-hooping on the White House lawn. Betts also takes a fascinating, well-researched look at first ladies throughout history (Mary Todd Lincoln was criticized for her fashionistaesque extravagance) and muses on the ways in which they were a reflection of women’s roles during their years in the White House. With its fine mix of deconstruction and designer interviews, well-sourced research and sumptuous photos, Betts has created a book that is eye and brain candy alike. Photos. (Feb.)
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Lots o’ buzz will accompany this fashion portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama. As befits another buzz-maker, ex–editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar and now author Betts, the book is filled with hyperbole, adjectives galore, comparisons across the century with other POTUS’ (Presidents of the United States’) wives, and a bit too much of me, myself, and I. Despite the use of superlatives, and even though Betts is no objective third-party observer, she not only takes great care in following Obama’s transition from power wife to power mom but also credibly examines the personal styles of Jackie Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, and Nancy Reagan, to mention three influential presidential companions. What is of prime importance is the recognition that style matters and that the careful expression of personal style—which all three women demonstrated—is the highest manifestation of a woman secure in herself. Great photographs add power to the author’s words; and sidebars, such as notes about couturiers (including Arnold Scaasi) and the 10 commandments of First Lady style, provide some additional intelligence. An easy read that is bound to be asked for by many readers. --Barbara Jacobs