Y'all know I love Michelle Obama. I think she looks great. Most the time. Like the rest of us, she makes the occasional mistake, and last week's White House vegetable garden moment was one of them. At this event, she wore head-to-toe black. Why?, you might ask, and it would be a very reasonable question.
My answer: It was someone's idea of gardening wear. And this is where rural, farming, even just plain old gardening American gets to feel a little bit smug, because even the worst gardener (and I might be that person) knows that black is in no way the best gardening color.
Now, does it really matter? No, it doesn't. But for someone who is clearly sensitive to the sartorial demands of the various occasions she finds her self in, it is not the best choice. And it led to a basic principle that I haven't seen voiced very often but that's true nonetheless: Our clothes should sort of mirror our surroundings. The most obvious example is camouflage — where an animal or person blends into the natural environment. This is why people tend to wear black and dark colors in big cities, which are grittier and just feel darker than less urban settings. On the beach, where the sun is blinding and everything gleams, bright colors are fitting. The lesson here: Your clothes should reflect the colors, shapes and overall feeling of the setting you'll be in. Black against those earth tones? Not the best choice.
Her stylists should have looked to classic gardening clothes and tweaked that look a bit instead. And what do gardeners wear? This vest is the kind of clothes that come immediately to mind. Wouldn't Mrs. O have looked fetching in a pair of dark brown or olive trousers or leggings tucked into a pair of Wellies like these? Add a crisp stripe top, maybe with a thin orange or purple stripe — or maybe even a stylized floral cotton blouse in a nod to the whole cottage/nostalgia strand of gardening — underneath a vest like this. Top it off with a suede hat and voila — First Lady goes a'tilling.