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Michelle Obama's Fruit-Flavored Fashion Problem

It doesn't matter that it's spring, clothing the color of produce should never be worn.

Maybe it’s because I hail from a climate with no spring. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a holiday celebrating gefilte fish rather than jellybeans. Either way, year after year I find myself shrinking in dismay as retailers put forth their collections of clothing in a palette of pastels no thinking woman should ever wear.  

So it was with a failing heart that I checked into my favorite website, Mrs-O.org, to see that my hero, first lady Michelle Obama, has succumbed to the allure of fruit-flavored clothing.

“Mrs. O wears a melon, doubleface stretch wool crepe sheath dress and one button blazer, both by Michael Kors.” 

A heavy sigh of despair follows. Alas.

No one above the age of consent should wear anything described as "melon" to work. In fact, I’d go so far as to rule out most of the colors found in the produce department: cherry, banana, kiwi, carrot. These make delicious lunches and disastrous blouses.

It shouldn’t stop there. The palette cleansing needs to extend to the ice cream parlor. Adult women need to put their collective well-heeled feet down and say "no" to wearing anything suggesting sherbet. Mango and raspberry have no place in our closets.

Don’t misunderstand me. I agree there’s more to wear than just black and white and gray. There’s blue. And dark green. I can see the occasional merit to, say, um, two shades of blue. But just because the calendar says spring is around the corner doesn’t mean I have to dress like I’m on a seasonal menu.

Does this make me a clothing curmudgeon? Lots of women think nothing perks up a pair of black pants better than a jaunty jacket bursting with color. My mother, bless her southern-born soul, has a soft spot for citrus. Walking into her closet filled with orange and lime green (in cotton, wool, cashmere and linen) might just supply you with a year’s worth of vitamin C. No fashion scurvy for her.

My closet, on the other hand, is wilted and funeral-ready. I’m not necessarily proud of this, but I can say with complete candor that I think more clearly and take myself more seriously when I’m wearing clothes that show no hint of mint, sprigs or gardens.

The feminist in me cries out, “People should wear whatever they want. Who am I to condemn those who want to wear festive fruit flavors? After all, it seems ill conceived to take our fashion cues exclusively from the Supreme Court wardrobe, right?"

Would I feel differently if our landscape were ablaze in color rather than its current state of mid-spring mud? Maybe. But I don’t see Michael Kors, proud designer of our first lady’s melon sheath, showing up on Project Runway in anything other than black, black and black. Maybe I should call him Justice Kors?  

Still, there’s no justice in dressing to match your melon. I’m just saying. 

Sue Blumberg April 16, 2011 at 01:31 PM
Mrs. O looks pretty though. Color it up Sal - break out! By the way - fruits and vegetables are good - color and all!
Karen April 16, 2011 at 01:51 PM
I was with you until I saw the photo and that's a rather subdued and pretty 'melon.' I'm just saying.
Glo April 16, 2011 at 02:33 PM
I have to agree with Sue and Karen: Mrs. O has the coloring and figure to rock this look and wear these colors! I adore almost al of Michael Kors' designs and think this is a perfect outfit for Michelle, although I myself would probably not wear both pieces at once.
Beth Olderman April 16, 2011 at 05:15 PM
For a moment there I thought my kids were "pranking" me with a Mrs. O.com website all about my fashion choices! But now I see its about the other Mrs. O. Frankly, I'm just wondering if maybe you'd be happy, Sal, with fashion colors inspired by our favorite Baker Boy selections -- oatmeal cookie, red velvet cake, banana muffin (oh yeah, that's a fruit)....
ronnie schwartz April 16, 2011 at 07:31 PM
Daughter dear, I think women's fashion designers name colors after fruits as a reminder of where they think a woman's place is: in the kitchen. Alternately, I think a man's shirt would never be called "Apple Red" but would sell better if labeled Bull's Crimson. The lime green in my wardrobe is chosen to vibrate gently with my "coral" lipstick (complementary colors) which seem to be suitable distractions to the pallor of winter (spring,fall, summer) skin. I do agree that black is basic and certainly does its funeral duties nowadays. It also helps with memory lapses, as everything goes with black. By the way, how about your raspberry and black paisley gloves??? Love, Mom
Beth Olderman April 16, 2011 at 07:37 PM
Can I borrow the gloves? I still have a few more Spring HPHS LAX games & AYSO soccer games to go to this Spring ....
Linda Goldman April 16, 2011 at 10:03 PM
Your writing is always so persuasive....but then I saw the picture and thought the First Lady looks awesome. Hmmmm....I wonder if I'd look good in Melon.
Jill April 17, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Well at least Mrs. O dresses her age, color choices not withstanding. She looks great in most of her clothing choices If I see one more middle aged mom trying to dress like their teenaged daughter, I am going to scream.
Diane April 17, 2011 at 05:01 PM
You need to shake it up Sal! Blues and greens get us through the drabs of winter. But, it's spring darn it! Forget that it snowed yesterday and break out the brights.
Sally Higginson April 18, 2011 at 05:06 PM
You know, if the sun would ever shine, maybe I'd sport a little citrus. Why not?
Sally Higginson April 18, 2011 at 05:07 PM
You need to remember: my gal Mrs. O looks great in everything. She would look good in pale asparagus accented with hollandaise. But does that mean she should wear it?
Sally Higginson April 18, 2011 at 05:09 PM
Okay, I'll give you that I love Michael Kors. But a melon sheath? Can't we all agree that the fruit salad accessories should be confined to the pashmina's and the scrunchies?
Sally Higginson April 18, 2011 at 05:10 PM
Now this is a suggestion worth considering. "The columnist was seen in a chocolate fudge skirt and blouse." Yes, I see your point. Fashion should originate at the bakery. Everything should originate at the bakery!
Sally Higginson April 18, 2011 at 05:15 PM
Totally busted on the gloves. I love my raspberry and black paisley gloves, which were a gift from my dear mother. As for the salad bar names for women's clothing versus the farmyard/athletic field names for the men, you make a brilliant observation. You are clever and wise, dear mother. Now, do you think I can teach my own daughters to ever utter that sentence or that observation about their mother?
Sally Higginson April 18, 2011 at 05:16 PM
You'd look divine in melon. But would anyone take you seriously? That's the question!
Sally Higginson April 18, 2011 at 05:18 PM
I will join you in that scream. To that end, when will the insanity of low-rise jeans end?
ronnie schwartz April 18, 2011 at 08:26 PM
Did everyone see that you think your mother is clever and wise? I am having that engraved. Oh dear, I had a good thought and just forgot what I want to say. oops - now I remember: If I had arms like Michelle Obama I would wear whatever I feel like.

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