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In case you haven’t heard, the new Duchess and the First Lady can seriously move some merch! Mrs. O has positioned herself as a fashionably refreshing alternative to the drab suit and TV anchor helmet-hair of First Ladies past and has been dubbed the “3-billion dollar woman” for her ability to impact retail and fashion with her clothing choices. Meanwhile Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge is proving to be a formidable opponent on the worldwide stage with her fashion choices being watched as closely as any celebrity or public personality. See how these two influencers stack up and let me know what you think!

Michelle Obama:

Mixing high-end designers like Alexander McQueen, Jason Wu and Azzedine Alaia with accessible options from J.Crew has made Mrs. O a serious pendulum swinger when it comes to fashion and retail. Analysts estimate that brands worn by Obama have generally seen a 2.3% increase in sales and her influence translates to roughly $14 million dollars for the label and stockists. After an appearance on The Tonight Show, the J. Crew ensemble Mrs. O wore caused such an upswing in traffic that the site crashed the next day, while other J. Crew pieces worn by the Obama clan have immediately sold out.


Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge:

The newest addition to the Royal Family is still fairly new to public life, however Mrs. Wales holds her own when it comes to influencing trends and sales. It’s been noted that Catherine wears mostly “high-street” brands that are much more accessible to the general public than some of Obama’s high-fashion choices. The white Reiss dress she wore in her engagement photos caused such a flurry of email and phone requests that the brand decided to re-release the piece, and the beige bandage dress she wore to meet the Obama’s at Buckingham Palace saw the retailer literally selling a dress per minute after pictures were released.


While Obama and the Duchess obviously have different tastes, they both dress in classic styles that flatter their bodies. Judging by her flirtings with designers like Isabel Toledo and Thakoon I dare say that Mrs. O might is a bit more adventurous in her choices, but Catherine obviously knows what works for her and always looks picture perfect no matter what the occasion. Check out a few BurdaStyle patterns I pulled together that echo the timeless style of both the First Lady and the new Duchess…

Patterns from left: Bustier Top, Pencil Skirt and Swing Trench Coat. Woolen Cardigan, Pleated Top and Pencil Skirt.

Do either one of these ladies influence your fashion and sewing choices? What do you think of Michelle Obama and Duchess Catherine as fashion icons?


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    Aug 24, 2011, 10.16 AMby lafn63

    I love Kate’s style. Michelle Obama a fashion icon? I bust up laughing everytime I hear someone say that. She needs an appointment with Clinton and Stacy from ‘What NOT to Wear’. Somebody help her. I love JCrew, but wearing their clothes does not make one a fashion icon.

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    Jun 17, 2011, 04.57 PMby tinybows

    Both women have classy style. They keep it simple. But honestly, Kate’s clothes are really quite boring. I do like how Mrs. O can really rock vintage style. I respect that.

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    Jun 17, 2011, 06.17 AMby dj1

    oh by the I DO love the fact the I can sew anything I like to include outfits i see on famous people but they surely dont influence what I wear ……

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    Jun 17, 2011, 06.15 AMby dj1

    I really like the fact that Mrs Obama changed what we ‘ve have seen from past first ladies and other women in washington . Its very feminine and flattering to her figure Although I dont agree with all her fashion choices , I like that she’s not afraid to try and is it not what fashion all about ?

    As for the new princess of cambridge , she have sometime to develop her look …..I really liked her wedding gown .. I was fortunate to purchase a pattern by another company (sorry burda) that really looks like her gown that’s selling like hot cakes right now …..

    2 Replies
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      Aug 1, 2011, 05.15 PMby SDCunni

      Hey dj1…can you give me that pattern number. Someone wants me to make them the dress for their wedding next year. I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.

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      Sep 15, 2011, 04.52 PMby dj1

      @SDCunni vogue #2979………

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    Jun 15, 2011, 09.24 PMby LimeSoda

    Mrs Wales is lovely but her clothing choices are nothing to write home about. Mrs. Obama is just freaking stunning with her off-the-rack and designer clothing combos! But I’m glad I’m getting back to sewing again so I can be unique.

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    Jun 15, 2011, 01.08 AMby caramia-made

    I think both of them are beautiful, natural looking women with amazing style. I agree with some of the other members that perhaps Kate dresses more conservatively since she’s now part of the conservative Royal Family – although she always looks beautiful and classy. Michelle looks like she is just so much fun! I love her bright colour choices and that sparkly J Crew cardi!

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    Jun 12, 2011, 11.35 PMby nouvellegamine

    seriously, every single thing mrs. o wears is frigging gorgeous. it’s a classic 60s style made incredibly fresh.

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    Jun 10, 2011, 04.47 PMby FashionSewingBlog

    I thinks its great that Michelle and Catherine are sending out positive messages that they will wear clothes that are accessible to us all.

    But! It must be hard for them to know which fashion brand to promote and difficult choices have to be made. We have to remember that we have to find out our own fashion icon from within, and not feel pressured into wearing something that does not suit our body shape simply because we see someone else wear it.

    As for fashion icon’s – they both have their place in history.

    Neither influence my sewing choices but I am so in love with Michelle’s cardigan. It is so exquisite.

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    Jun 10, 2011, 04.25 PMby jacquipardue

    I like the way Kate’s clothes are beautifully tailored, while I think Mrs. O really makes color work for her!

    1 Reply
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      Jun 12, 2011, 10.32 AMby fifilina

      yes, totally agree on both counts!

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    Jun 10, 2011, 03.36 PMby missb-1

    Both women have a great sense of style and what looks good on them. Mrs. O convinced me to buy an H&M dress after I saw her wear it. ;) It’s refreshing to see ‘real’ (the non-surgery enhanced versions of) women dictate the fashion and I think both are good role models for other girls and women.

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    Jun 10, 2011, 03.30 PMby laha5822

    Kate is definitely my style icon… she doesn’t take huge risks, but she always looks great and is a big inspiration for me as I build my wardrobe. I think she looks best in the classic styles she wears and I don’t really think she needs to deviate. Michelle is the youngest First Lady we’ve had in a while, which may be why we’re seeing a lot more fashion from her than previous Ladies. I love that both women buy their clothes from accessible stores/brands, showing the public that you don’t necessarily have to have lots of cash to look great!

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    Jun 10, 2011, 02.52 AMby acpo

    Kate is keepin it safe but really really classy, Mrs. O oh God! she’s fresh, young and dynamic her clothes show her as a really confident down to earth person two thumbs up for her, I think the Dutchess should take a little bit more risks dnt get me wrong she has a super fashion style iq but too serious for her age :)

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    Jun 10, 2011, 01.33 AMby pambox

    from what i’ve seen, i think michelle obama often has the fresher and even ‘younger’ look than kate middleton. i guess kate’s very much playing it safe, so she might develop a more distinct style personality as time goes on. although kate’s dress sold like hotcakes after their meeting, i much prefer michelle obama’s blue dress and pink bolero – it’s so much more fun and interesting, while kate’s dress, especially in that colour, i find just fades into the background. they are both beautful and stylish women, though.

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    Jun 9, 2011, 06.37 PMby joen

    Both Ladies are always dressed beautifully and tastefully.

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    Jun 9, 2011, 06.20 PMby bohemiannow

    Don’t you feel more special that you sew? Look what’s going on. They appear with a dress and the next minute some fashion expert announces which brand dress that is and a bunch of women run to the stores and computers to buy the same look. How about your perfectly sewn clothes? That’s all they will see. The perfection, the unique you, that cannot be copied!

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    Jun 9, 2011, 10.44 AMby ichigogirl

    Thought Catherine may not be as fashion forward as Mrs Obama, she always strikes me as very smart. I do think she has a great sense of style.

    It’s probably not possible for her to be daring and different yet, as she has just entered one of the most conservative royal families in the world (though prince William seems like a really nice and pretty cool person). I think she HAS to wear “normal” clothes.

    I have high hopes for the future though :-)

    Mrs Obama, she has a great sense of style too, but I’ve seen her wear some rather unflattering styles. Maybe it’s just not my style as much as Kate’s is! I do like what Mrs O is wearing in the pictures above.

    And I do think Kate’s beige Reiss dress would have looked a lot better if worn with Mrs Obama’s bright pink jacket. Maybe they should team-up?

    2 Replies
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      Jun 9, 2011, 12.28 PMby ghainskom

      I totally agree with you. And I think taking a risk once in a while is what make a fashion icon, and of course, that means that once in while if you get too daring, the outfit is unflattering. But that’s exactly why I see Mrs. O as fashion icon and Kate not. But like you and I said, she’ll get there :)
      I also have to say that what I also like about Michelle is that she doesn’t have a model figure and shows that you don’t have to have one to look fabulous. Kate doesn’t “speak” to me that way but that’s something she can’t do anything about.

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      Jun 9, 2011, 01.56 PMby ichigogirl

      Yes, about Mrs Obama, I LOVE that she looks “real”, she’s definitely not a plastic surgery victim (nor a diet victim I think) which is SO refreshing to see in a famous middle aged American woman, and she looks great the way she is. Healthy and beautiful.
      A great role model.

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    Jun 9, 2011, 07.45 AMby ghainskom

    I don’t see Kate as a fashion icon yet but she’ll get there. She’s a celebrity wearing clothes anybody can get but there’s nothing daring or new about her picks and the way she style them, contrary to Michelle, who’s set a trend with her belts and brooches, among others. If you’re going to talk about Mrs. O’s style, then you should definitely link to this website.

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    Jun 8, 2011, 04.01 PMby taysha1128

    I am big fan of both ladies! I plan on getting a Mrs. O haircut for the summer and make myself some fab j cew-type skirts :-)

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    Jun 8, 2011, 03.46 PMby bodicegoddess589

    Great and timely post! You’re right – it has been a very long time since Americans have had a First Lady to look up to for fashion advice. I especially love that Mrs. Obama is sticking to choices that many of us can afford. I’d like to think that this is helping the economy! As for Duchess Catherine, man is she gorgeous, and very fashion-forward. My mother actually picked out her Christmas outfit based on news coverage – a blue jersey dress with black tights and black shoes. It’s good to see that there’s women out there who are politically active and have the guts to go out there looking AMAZING.

    1 Reply
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      Jun 8, 2011, 03.51 PMby themisslinds

      What I love so much about Mrs. O is that she has brains AND fashion smarts – the ultimate combo in my opinion!

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