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Posted at 12:02 AM ET, 12/20/2010

Michelle Obama's vintage fashion moment: a secondhand gown on a first lady

By The Reliable Source

Michelle Obama, with her family, in a 1950s-style Norman Norell dress at the "Christmas in Washington" concert. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Michelle Obama made fashion headlines yet again by wearing a vintage cocktail dress to the "Christmas in Washington" concert, which aired on TNT Friday night. It's believed to be the first time a first lady has appeared in a secondhand gown.

The black lace 1950s dress -- square neckline, sweeping full skirt -- was created by Norman Norell, a top American fashion designer who died in 1972. Obama purchased it from New York Vintage in Manhattan, a high-end store for couture clothing that dates back to the early 1800s, reports the Huffington Post. The owners would not disclose how much the first lady paid for the one-of-a-kind dress, but top-quality vintage pieces now easily run into four figures.

The choice of vintage proves that Obama's approach to red-carpet dressing has much more in common with Hollywood than traditional Washington, reports our colleague Robin Givhan. Vintage designer dresses are very popular with style-savvy actresses who frequent Decades and Lily et Cie shops in Los Angeles. Expect more secondhand on the first lady: The New York boutique owners said she purchased other pieces that will be unveiled later.

By The Reliable Source  | December 20, 2010; 12:02 AM ET
Categories:  First Family  
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That is a great dress and she wears it well.

Posted by: withersb | December 20, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

It is a great dress. I'm wondering who owned it before. Ms. Obama is tall for now; she's really tall for 55 years ago. Pat Buckley? Julia Child? What tall woman owned this dress before?

Posted by: margaretmeyers | December 20, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse


You are very late with this news item. Drudge Report had it last week. According to Drudge, the dress cost $2,500.

Posted by: solson1 | December 20, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

It's such a beautiful and flattering ballerina style dress. Perfect for Mrs. Obama and the occasion, but ...

I'm sobbing over your reference to "our colleague Robin Givhan."

Damn. I wish Robin wasn't leaving the Post. I know I'm not alone is that.

Posted by: dadada | December 20, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

The first lady spends thousands of dollars for one dress, hundreds of thousands of dollars vacationing in Spain, all on taxpayer money. Has any First Family in U.S. history ever acted so much like self-indulgent royalty?

It all seems very "Animal House" to me, especially in light of the current economic situation of most American citizens.

Posted by: FranWins | December 23, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

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