The title of First Lady specifically refers to the spouse of a president. However, most women who have held the title have gone above and beyond the duties of just being an important man's wife. Today, it is understood that the American First Lady must fulfill the role of public woman, political celebrity, political activist and political interloper. And aside from political duties, the First Lady holds a responsibility in the fashion world as well. As the nation that she helps her husband to govern over watches her every move, people scrutinize and seek to imitate her wardrobe as well. It is known that whatever designer's work she chooses to wear at formal events will gain success from that exposure. From the inauguration ball to the last day of a term, whatever the First Lady wears will serve as inspiration for students in fashion college, as well as influence the way in which every-day women dress themselves. But two First Ladies, have gone above and beyond the normal First Lady fashion protocol. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, wife of the late president John F. Kennedy, and Michelle Obama, wife of current president Barack Obama have created style legacies that have set precedents for future wives of presidents. They have dressed themselves with such political awareness and elegance, that their influence on American women's fashion has made history.
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy became the First Lady when her husband John F. Kennedy was elected president on November 8, 1960. She later took on the last name Onassis when she re-married a Greek Shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis several years after her President Kennedy's assassination in 1963. While she lived and worked in the White House, she commissioned friend and designer Oleg Cassini to create an original First Lady wardrobe for her. Onassis became known for her sophisticated style, setting specific fashion trends like sleeveless A-line dresses, above-the-elbow gloves, three-quarter-length sleeves on jackets, big, dark sunglasses, and her famous?illboxhats. In the years after she moved out of the White House, her style evolved from a safe, presidential sophistication to full-on fashionista glamour. In the late sixties and seventies, Onassis wore wide-leg pantsuits, Hermes head scarves and gypsy skirts. She even began to wear jeans in public, which was unheard of for a woman of her political and social stature in her time. On the day in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was shot, Jackie Kennedy made the most shocking fashion statement of all time, as she stood before the world and refused to change out of the suit that had her husband's blood splattered all over it. In doing so, Onassis sent a message to the world that transcends politics or fashion design: That she was willing to accept reality and stand strong in the face of incredible grief and sadness. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was not afraid to stand out.
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama became the First Lady when her husband Barack Obama was elected president on November 4, 2008. The Obama's are the United States of America's first African-American president and First Lady, and this alone has made a huge impact on American race relations. Since assuming the role of First Lady, Obama has made headlines with her bold and elegant, yet simple style choices that emphasize her position as a modern, empowered woman. She is often seen wearing a simple strand of pearls, with clean-cut suits. She is also known for re-popularizing sleeveless and one-shoulder dresses which gracefully show her strong, toned arms. Obama often wears clothes by designers, Calvin Klein, Isabel Toledo, Donna Ricco and Oscar de la Renta. She is the second first lady in American history to have appeared on the cover of Vogue magazine.