The First Lady’s Expensive Wardrobe Secret Revealed

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Along with being  the First Lady of the United States is the pressure to always dress to impress, but the job doesn’t come with a clothing allowance or a salary.

The FLOTUS recently made an impression with a forest-green Naeem Khan dress at a gallery opening at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art before shimmering in a silver Marchesa gown at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, and then wore a flowered shirtdress for a Mother’s Day tea at the White House. These three dresses by themselves could add up to more than $15,000, not to mention the purchase of accessories to accompany the ensembles, such as shoes and jewelry.

So are the bills getting paid by taxpayers? No. (Despite what critics say.)

Does she borrow gowns from designers? No.

Does she pay full price? Not likely. (Former White House lawyers said any discounts provided to the first lady would have to be in line with what designers offer other top customers to avoid being considered gifts.)

Mary Todd Lincoln considered selling manure from the White House grounds to pay off the tens of thousands of dollars she racked up in clothing bills. Jacqueline Kennedy’s father-in-law helped finance her wardrobe to keep her apparels from becoming a political liability for President John Kennedy, while Nancy Reagan was given grief for borrowing designer gowns and reporting them as gifts without returning them at times.

It takes money to pull off expensive gowns from month-to-month, so what’s Michelle Obama’s secret?

“Mrs. Obama pays for her clothing. For official events of public or historic significance, such as a state visit, the first lady’s clothes may be given as a gift by a designer and accepted on behalf of the U.S. government. They are then stored by the National Archives.” This saves the first lady a considerable amount of money, which is a contrast to Mrs. Bush, who has been accredited to paying for all her clothes.

Anita McBride, chief staff to Laura Bush during her time as first lady applauds Michelle Obama with finding a cost-saving way to “keep Mrs. Obama in all those incredible clothes” and in rotation. For example, the first lady wore the same dress to this year’s Mother’s Day tea for an audience of military moms after wearing it to lunch with Katy Perry in October 2012.

(Photo: Associated Press)