There were the usual suspects: Kate Middleton post baby, Beyoncé in her jumpsuit, and a smattering of European royalty. There was even Justin Timberlake, a new first lady (Peng Liyuan of China) and a little-known L.A. fashion blogger who likes patterned jeans and Miranda Kerr.
But conspicuously missing from Vanity Fair’s 2013 International Best-Dressed List? Michelle Obama, arguably the best-dressed American woman in the public eye.
The first lady, who has been featured on the list every year since 2007, and recognized in 2011 with her husband as “Best Couple of the Year”—was excluded for the first time last year.
What did Michelle Obama do—or not do—to get snubbed for a second consecutive year?
For one thing, she has taken noticeably fewer fashion risks in the last few years than she did at the beginning of her tenure. At the beginning of the Obamas’ time in the White House, there were Alaia belts, pieces by avant-garde designers such as Junya Watanabe, and eye-grabbing outfits from undiscovered designers. In the past year, though, there have been more “recycled” outfits than ever before: the first lady has worn old favorites by designers such as Prabal Gurung, Rachel Roy, and Thom Browne for the second (or sometimes third) time.
Maybe people are just getting tired of her shtick, but they shouldn’t be. Obama’s biggest “fashion moments” of 2013 should have been enough to get her on the list alone. Take, for example, the shimmering Tracy Reese dress that she wore to the Democratic National Convention in September, which showed off her best assets while playing subtly to both sides of the aisle. The Thom Browne jacket and dress based on the fabric of men’s neckties she wore to Inauguration Day was a big hit (and the J.Crew belt and shoes she wore it with sold out immediately.) The dramatic, one-shouldered Jason Wu dress at the Inaugural Ball was a standout dress, even if it was her second Inaugural Ball wearing one of Wu’s designs.
Vanity Fair's best-dressed list, for the record, is determined by ballots sent to influencers—and then evaluated by a selection committee of “journalists and social figures,” according to the magazine.
And, for all the big names Obama brought out, she stuck with her signature move of mixing in affordable pieces, wearing, for example, a Target dress earlier in the year, multiple J. Crew accessories, and a $90 Asos dress following the election (which was recently copied by Huma Abedin).
If that can’t get you on the Best Dressed list, I don’t know what can.