How Michelle Obama's 'laid' locks and 2021 purple suit compare to her 2017 formal red outfit with messy updo

Michelle Obama is known for her 'sartorial diplomacy', so why did she choose to wear what she did and style her hair in direct contrast to how she looked in 2017 while leaving the White House?


                            How Michelle Obama's 'laid' locks and 2021 purple suit compare to her 2017 formal red outfit with messy updo
Former President Barack Obama and wife Michelle Obama arrive for the inauguration of President Joe Biden on the West Front of the Capitol on January 20 (Getty Images)

Many tweets on Inauguration Day called Michelle Obama their "Forever Flotus" as she slayed in a deep magenta coat and trousers paired with a purple top with an eye-catching gold buckle. And topping it all off was a bouncy, unreal vision of styled locks that stayed perfectly in place despite the wind. 

"Laid" trended on Twitter as people commented on how good her coiffed, bouncy hair looked and others left starry-eyed comments about her outfit with a cape-like coat that drifted behind her like she was royalty. Michelle Obama is known for her "sartorial diplomacy", so why did she choose to wear what she did and style her hair in direct contrast to how she looked in 2017 while leaving the White House?

Former U.S. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama at the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)

In 2017, Michelle Obama chose to style her hair in a messy updo and her hair was pulled back harshly from her face with no soft loose locks framing her face. She also wore a rather severe red formal outfit when she welcomed the Trumps into the White House. Back then, she had coordinated not only her husband, Barack Obama, but also the new POTUS and FLOTUS. While Donald Trump wore a red tie and Obama wore a blue one -- each representing their respective parties -- the leaving and incoming First Lady outfits flipped these colors to show a peaceful, conciliatory transfer of power.

From left, Michelle Obama, Melania Trump, Donald Trump and Barack Obama (Getty Images)

But it didn't mean Michelle Obama was happy about it. The severe lines of her dress silently signaled her sadness. Her 2017 dress had none of the oomph, joy and jaunty flounce of her 2021 Inauguration Day ensemble. Back then, her slightly unkempt hair also showed she didn't care enough to put in an extra effort.

It was apparent that she saw the transition ceremony of welcoming the Trumps into the White House as an unwelcome but necessary duty rather than a pleasure. In 2021, she is in party mode, celebrating the win, for the Democrat party and also for Black women. 

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden greet former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama after Biden's inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021, in Washington, DC. Vice President Kamala Harris stand to the right (Getty Images) 

It is interesting to note that Michelle Obama chose to wear Sergio Hudson on Inauguration Day. Hudson is a Black designer from South Carolina who was also worn by Vice President Kamala Harris just before Inauguration Day. Obama, Harris, and Hillary Clinton all chose to coordinate and wear shades of purple that reflect the merging of blue (Democrat) and red (Republican) to celebrate unity after four years of divisive politics. Dr. Jill Biden as the FLOTUS, however, still wore blue to symbolize the return of the Democrats to the White House.

After four years, we also have the first Black woman VP in Kamala Harris, representing Black American women in a seat of real power. Purple is not only a color of royalty but also symbolizes power. Michelle chose to wear a more reddish-hued purple to highlight the true purple Kamala Harris wore in an ensemble that mixed and matched pieces from both Hudson and designer Christopher John Rogers, a young, Black, queer 'emerging designer'. In some ways, Michelle Obama paved the way for Harris by exercising significant 'soft' power while in the White House. Harris has taken the next logical step by being elected and is there in her own right.

Newly sworn in Vice President Kamala Harris looks back at Jennifer Lopez during the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)

Purple is also significant because it is entwined with Black women's stories in America. Purple was used in the campaign flyers of Shirley Chisholm -- the first Black woman to run for president in 1972 under the Democratic party and the first Black woman elected to U.S. Congress. Then there is also the iconic book title 'The Color Purple' by Alice Walker about a Black woman finding her voice and independence despite years of abuse and mistreatment. In the book, the color purple signifies not just being a survivor but thriving and actively enjoying life and the beautiful things it offers. With the magenta-purple Michelle Obama chose, she is cheering on the new VP -- it is the time for Black women to thrive.

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