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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Michelle Obama’s Red Dress: Great Style, Bold Gesture

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President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive to dance together at an Inaugural Ball, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, during the 57th Presidential Inauguration. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)This combo image shows first lady Michelle Obama as she arrives at the Inaugural Ball in Washington on Jan. 21, 2009, left, and Jan. 21, 2013, right. Michelle Obama made it a fashion tradition Monday night, wearing a custom-made Jason Wu gown to the inaugural balls. (Jacquelyn Martin, Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)U.S. President Ronald Reagan and his wife, first lady Nancy Reagan, wave to the crowd on the west front of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., after he was sworn in as the nation's 40th president, Jan. 20, 1981.   (AP)President and Mrs. Bush smile as they are welcomed by supporters at the Salute to Heroes and Veterans Banquet in Washington, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2001. (Doug Mills/AP)President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama dance together at an Inaugural Ball, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, during the 57th Presidential Inauguration. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)President Barack Obama, waves as he walks with his daughters Sasha and Malia, first lady Michelle Obama and mother-in-law Marian Robinson, to St. John's Church in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, for a church service during the 57th Presidential Inauguration. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama walk in the Inaugural Parade during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

Fashion journalist Kate Betts says when she first saw the First Lady’s choice of another inaugural ball gown designed by Jason Wu, this time in red, she flashed back to Nancy Reagan’s signature “Reagan red.”

What was different about Michelle’s bold gown was that it was made of soft, flowy fabric. It was romantic and optimistic, Betts said, seeming to reflect her story with her husband, and her family’s life in the White House.

The First Lady, in choosing the same designer, was not only making a fashion statement, but a style statement, Betts said.  And as in all things politics, there’s a message in it.

“Every political image is calculated,” Betts told Here & Now.  “I think that she wanted to make a bold gesture.”

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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