History of the White House Christmas theme, started by Jackie Kennedy

JFK and Jackie Kennedy (jfklibrary.org)

Now that the official White House Christmas tree has been delivered, the only question remaining is “What will the 2010 White House Christmas theme be?”. This decision is left up to the first lady, and had been since the JFK Administration.

It was not until 1961 that the tradition of a White house Christmas theme began under Jacqueline Kennedy. Jackie, a lover of the arts, started a tradition of having a central theme for the White House Christmas season with her first theme of “The Nutcracker Suite”.

This tree was decorated with ornamental toys, birds, and angels reminiscent of Petr Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” ballet, and placed in the oval Blue Room. The following year, Mrs. Kennedy recycled these delicate pieces, placing them with other ornaments of packages, candy canes and gingerbread cookies on the tree for her second theme, “Children”. All the ornaments were made by disabled or senior citizens craftspeople in the United States. Since this time, the White House has never passed through the Christmas season without a central theme for the house.

Jackie Kennedy dress (AP Photo)

In the holiday photo above, Jacqueline Kennedy is seen wearing one of her iconic shift dresses from the 1960’s. This photograph, taken on December 12, 1962 at the White House Staff Christmas Reception, was when Jackie first debuted this deep pink dress, designed by Hubert de Givenchy. This sleeveless dress has a simple front, a classic look for Mrs. Kennedy, but the back of the dress consists of gathered material twisted together, forming a bow. It is now on display at the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts.

How wonderful it must be to be the First Lady of the United States around Christmas time! She must feel so honored to be in charge of the theme in which all the decorations of the White House are designed around. These decorations and themes are truly a deeper insight to each first lady’s own taste and style, as well as a reflection of their and style!

The Obama family cheers on the Oregon State basketball team

Michelle Obama (Getty Images)

Last Saturday night, the Obama family attended a basketball game in Washington, D.C. The entire family, including Michelle’s mother, Marian Robinson, watched Howard University take on Oregon State, coached by Craig Robinson, Michelle Obama’s brother.

The Obama family kept their wardrobe palette in line with the colors of the Oregon State Beavers, wearing all orange and black. Mrs. Obama was dressed in solid black. She wore black, slim-fitting trousers and a black turtleneck paired with a knee-length, textured vest. She then added a punch of color by strapping a bright orange belt across her waist.

Surprisingly, the first lady did not choose her signature style of placing the belt atop her vest. Instead, she layered the textured vest over the orange belt. Did this surprise anyone else?

The Obama family at the Oregon State basketball game (Getty Images)

Additionally, I must note Malia’s orange sneakers, how cute!

The Official White House Christmas Tree is Delivered

Delivery of the White House Christmas tree (Rod Lamkey/Getty Images)

The White House Christmas tree has been delivered! The Obama family shifted into Christmas gear Friday afternoon as the traditional horse-drawn wagon hauled in an 18 ½ foot Douglas fir, grown on a family’s farm in Lehighton, Pennsylvania. Christopher Botek, the farm owner, brought his wife and two daughters to the White House as he presented this tree to the Obama family. He said he was honored to hand over the tree, caring on tradition, as his parents had presented the official White House Christmas tree from the same farm in 2006 during the George W. Bush administration. As the military band played the Christmas carol “O Christmas Tree,” Michelle Obama, and her two daughters, Sasha and Malia, were outside to receive the tree this year.  Check out the video of the ceremony below.

For this occasion, Malia Obama was dressed in skinny pants, a green blouse and black print blazer. Sasha, on the other hand, wore plaid tights paired with gray shorts, a gray and white striped blouse and black blazer. Do you like this mixture of patterns in Sasha’s outfit?

While her daughters dressed in these trendy fashions, Michelle went for a more classic look. Mrs. Obama was dressed camel trousers and a white, ruffled blouse gold Merino sequin crochet cardigan from J. Crew (available here.) While the 3 Obama women wore drastically different styles, all opted to wear the ever so classic ballet flats with their ensembles.

Do you think a love for fashion runs in the family?

President and Michelle Obama interview with Barbara Walters

Barbara Walters interviews the Obamas (Official White House Photo/Peter Souza)

Last night, an interview of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama sitting down in the White House with Barbara Walters was aired on ABC. Barbara Walters has been interviewing the First Ladies on the United Sates since former First Lady Pat Nixon. In this joint interview, the first couple was asked about their life in the White House. To view a complete video and transcript for this interview, click here.

(Official White House Photo/Peter Souza)

In part on the interview, Barbara Walters asked Michelle if she grew sick of all the talk about her “toned arms,” to which Mrs. Obama replied that she will never get sick of it, reassuring that she is still a normal woman, and still enjoys a compliment. It was exciting to see how Michelle even brought fashion into her response, by adding, “I still wear what I like and enjoy, and I thought this dress is pretty. And in fact, my, my husband, he liked this dress.” To which President Obama replied, “It’s a nice looking dress.”

For this interview, Michelle was dressed in a chocolate colored, pleated chiffon dress adorned with black, velvet trim. She accented this look with an Alex Bittar brooch at the collar and a thick, silver belt at her waistline.

What do you think about this look? Do you agree with President Obama, is this “a nice looking dress”?

History of the White House Christmas tree, started by Caroline Harrison

Caroline Harrison (whitehousehistory.org)

Thanksgiving is over, and the Christmas season is quickly approaching. Whose tree farm will Mrs. Obama select to supply the White House with the official Christmas tree of the season? In honor of this event, let’s take a look at the great style of the woman who first began the tradition of the White House Christmas tree.

The first indoor White House Christmas tree was the tree of President Benjamin Harrison and First Lady Caroline Harrison in 1889. It stood in the Oval Room, located in the upstairs of the White House. Caroline, an artist, helped decorate this first White House tree, branched adorned with lit candles. Little did Mrs. Harrison know, she was setting the stage for a much-loved holiday tradition, the White House Christmas tree.

Following Caroline, not all first ladies chose indoor trees; however, Lou Henry Hoover’s tree began the yet unbroken custom of an indoor tree, known as the “official” White House Christmas tree. Since that time of 1929, the honor of trimming the White House Christmas tree has belonged to our nation’s hostess, the first lady.

Michelle Obama: stylishly giving thanks

Yesterday afternoon, in celebration of Thanksgiving, the entire Obama family gave back to the community. President and First Lady Obama, along with daughters, Sasha and Malia, The family served turkey and stuffing to underprivileged children, youth and families at Martha’s Table, a food pantry located in downtown Washington, D.C. This is the same organization the Obama family volunteered for last Thanksgiving as well (see last year’s Thanksgiving outfit here).

Malia and Michelle Obama (Getty)

For this occasion of serving the community, Michelle opted to wear an ivory knit vest layered atop another long sleeve, ivory knit sweater. This is a rather interesting choice of apparel. If she wanted to layer, you would think she would have chosen two separate colors, right? However, the monochromatic look is indeed in this season (see here). Perhaps, the first lady was trying to be on the cutting edge of fashion, as she so often is. She paired these sweaters with a silk, lavender colored Prova  scarf (similar to a scarf she was seen wearing over her head in an Indonesian mosque here). The scarf was highlighted layered fringes of gunmetal beads and white pom poms.

Malia also chose one of this season’s trendy looks by layering a polka dot cardigan over a button down blouse, Love this look! If the mother and daughter were to battle it out in the fashion ring, who do you think would win? Malia has my vote!

What do you think about this layering of look? I love Malia’s ensemble, but is Michelle’s look a fashion hit or miss?

Michelle Obama back in the Orange Suit

First Lady Michelle Obama (Reuters)

Earlier this afternoon, First Lady Michelle Obama made an appearance at Riverside Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia. At this appearance, the first lady discussed her new initiative to open 6,000 new salad bars in schools across the country within the next 3 years. This initiative is part of Michelle’s “Let’s Move” campaign, promoting healthy nutrition and exercise for children.

But, what did she wear to this event? She brought out her orange pantsuit again! She paired this suit with a striped, tulle top, (available here) and a vintage, flower brooch.  The blouse and suit were both designed by Jean Paul Gautier.

I know Jean Paul Gautier is a famous designer; however, I am not a fan of this look. Let’s find out what students on the Texas A&M University campus think about Michelle’s orange suit! According to freshman Skyler Herd, “It is in style! It is starting to be a new trend to wear all one color.” However, Jeff McCord disagrees, stating, “This orange is ugly. Why can’t she just stick to suits that normal people wear? It looks like she is just trying to stand out.” Finally, Renee Materne, when asked what she thought of this look, replied, “I don’ like it, but does it really matter? She is probably trying to dress the best she can, and doesn’t need anyone criticizing her, to each his own.”

What are your thoughts on this colorful ensemble?

Laura Bush’s take on fashion in autobiography, Spoken from the Heart

Laura Bush (North Valley Magazine)

Early this morning, I finished reading Laura Bush’s new book, Spoken from the Heart. In this autobiography, Laura mainly discusses her experiences while growing up in Midland, Texas and her time spent in the White House. However, in a small portion of the text, she describes her thoughts on fashion.

Mrs. Bush states that it was hard for her to be in the eye of the fashion critics, because she never kept up with the trends. She did not wish to be seen as on the cutting edge of fashion, but rather, Laura wanted others to view her style as elegant. She also said that it was the Bush family’s budget, not the government’s expenses that had to purchase all of her dresses which she wore to the many events she and her husband, former President George W. Bush, attended.

The media always expected her to wear a designer brand, so she tried to recycle her wardrobe as much as possible. Laura even recollects on a time when the recycling of her wardrobe went too far. She once showed up to FOX to be interviewed by Chris Wallace, when she saw a photograph of herself on the wall of the news station in the exact same outfit at her previous interview with Wallace. She describes how she tried to cover this accident by exchanging shirts with her press secretary.

Laura BushI am glad that Laura Bush is honest in her biography and doesn’t try to cover up mistakes that she has made in her past, like so many political leaders seem to do in their books. She is not afraid to speak her mind, as well as have a laugh at herself every now and again. As I previously stated, Laura said she wanted her style to come across as elegant, and I must say that if this was her main goal in her fashion choices, mission accomplished.

What do you think about Laura Bush’s fashion sense?

Serving the Troops on Veterans Day

Michelle Obama (Getty Images)

Mrs. Obama left the ten-day Asia tour today to head back to the United States. Could it be that the first lady is afraid of making another controversial fashion choice, like her head scarf worn yesterday? I think this is probably played a factor in her early departure. On her way back to the White House, she stopped in Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany to speak to military personnel, as well as their families, at Ramstein Air Force Base. The first lady not only thanked these military troops in speech, but also by serving them a warm lunch.

For this occasion, Michelle Obama was dressed much more casually than she has been seen the past few days in Asia. She wore black slacks paired with an eggshell white tank top and floral cardigan. Her look is very laidback, yet perfect for this service opportunity. She shows that a woman can still look absolutely stylish while serving others.

To view a special Veteran’s Day announcement from First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, please watch the video below.

What are you doing to say thank you this Veterans Day?

Michelle Obama wears Head Scarf while touring Indonesian Mosque, has she gone too far?

President and Michelle Obama tour Indonesian mosque (Jason Reed/Reuters)

This morning in Indonesia, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama took a tour of Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta. Michelle has been very respectful of the Indonesian culture while on this trip. Yesterday, when in a dress, Michelle chose to also wear loose-fitting trousers, covering her legs. Today, Mrs. Obama continues to honor the Indonesian traditions by wearing a loose-fitting pants suit, and even decided to throw on a head scarf!

While touring the mosque, Michelle Obama wore a yellow, matte jersey Stephen Burrows pant suit (previously seen worn this past July). She paired this suit with a custom head scarf, or hijab. However, Michelle’s head scarf has a little bit of stylish flair to spices up her look. This silk Prova scarf displays an animal print design and features 3 layers of fringing – teal material, gunmetal glass-beads and pale yellow pom-poms. With this ensemble, the first lady also wore stocking feet.

Michelle Obama (EPA)

Wow! I can understand the terms of “respecting” a culture, but if she was definitely not required to wear a head scarf. I do recall former First Lady Laura Bush wearing a head scarf at one point during the Bush administration, although it was presented to her as a gift. Michelle’s designer scarf was definitely not a gift, and while I do agree with her respect for the Indonesian culture, the hijab takes this just a little too far.

When students at Texas A&M University were asked what they thought about this head scarf, there were mixed emotions. Amber McAlister, a sophomore student, said that her fashion choices should be of no importance to Americans, but rather, we should only focus on her political views. Brett Parsons, a senior at A&M, disagreed by stating, “Her outfits represent America when she is overseas, and I don’t think she should have worn that. She can respect their customs, but she doesn’t have to join in.” Another senior, Lauren Stinson, also believed Mrs. Obama was in the wrong by wearing this head scarf.

Do you agree with Michelle Obama dressing in Indonesian customs? Yes, she has showed she respects their culture, but his this too much?

Let me know what you think!