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11 times Michelle Obama's dress had way more meaning than you realized

Catherine Conelly is a Senior Love and Health Editor at SheKnows.

#1/12:

Michelle Obama

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News
#1/12:

Michelle Obama

Our ever-so-stylish FLOTUS always nails her fashion choices, but she's also ever so careful about which designers she's putting in the spotlight.

#3/12:

Jason Wu

Michael Kovac/WireImage/Getty Images
#3/12:

Jason Wu

She rang in her husband's very first term by rocking a bold Jason Wu dress to the inaugural ball, a move that catapulted the Taiwanese-born Canadian fashion designer's career, who resides in New York.

Hmm... An American-based designer with a diverse cultural background. Probably not a coincidence. And the designer has become a staple of the first lady's.

#4/12:

Jason Wu

Alex Wong/Getty Images News
#4/12:

Jason Wu

Another Jason Wu masterpiece. Because look at it.

#5/12:

Naeem Khan

#5/12:

Naeem Khan

Here she is at a state dinner at the White House wearing Indian-American designer Naeem Khan. His father designed clothing for royal Indian families, and Khan moved to the U.S. to pursue his own design career with great success.

#6/12:

Naeem Khan

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News
#6/12:

Naeem Khan

She wore another one of the designer's dresses to an event hosted by Raúl Castro at the Museum of the Revolution in Cuba.

#7/12:

Narciso Rodriguez

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#7/12:

Narciso Rodriguez

Michelle has worn Narciso Rodriguez on several occasions, and as an iconic American designer of Cuban descent, it's easy to read into that as a calculated move that plays nicely and subtley into the political narrative.

Here she wears a marigold design (that flew off the shelves the next day) for her husband's final State of the Union address. Considering that one of Obama's last major moves as president reopened Cuba to the world, FLOTUS' fashion choice was also a very political one.

#8/12:

Vera Wang

Pool/Getty Images News
#8/12:

Vera Wang

And here she is at a state dinner at the White House hosting the Chinese president and his wife, wearing a (stunning) gown by Chinese-American designer Vera Wang.

#9/12:

Doo-Ri Chung

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News
#9/12:

Doo-Ri Chung

Similarly, she wore Korean-American designer Doo-Ri Chung while hosting the South Korean president in 2011.

#10/12:

Laura Smalls

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News
#10/12:

Laura Smalls

Laura Smalls is a black up-and-coming designer based in New York who was stunned and delighted when the first lady showed up to the Democratic National Convention in 2012 wearing one of her designs. 

Leave it to Michelle Obama to give a budding designer a chance when people of color are seriously underrepresented in fashion — yet another subtle nudge from FLOTUS through her fashion choice.

#11/12:

Tracy Reese

Charles Ommanney/Getty Images News
#11/12:

Tracy Reese

Probably with a similar goal in mind, she also flaunted a pretty pink dress by Tracy Reese on the national stage (the first time she wore the designer's work to such a notable event). 

There are far fewer success stories about black designers when you look at the New York Fashion Week lineups, but Michelle Obama helped launch Reese into that conversation. According to The New York Times, Reese is arguably one of the most well-known black fashion designers today.

So, knowing that our media loves to focus on how a female politician looks instead of what they've accomplished, Michelle managed to sew political messages into the inevitable conversations about her wardrobe. Clever, Michelle, very clever.

#12/12:

Michelle Obama

Leigh Vogel/WireImage
#12/12:

Michelle Obama

And, for her final State Dinner, of course the First Lady would go big — with a custom-made, rose gold chainmail Atelier Versace gown. Absolutely stunning.

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