Thomas Whiteside
Kelsey Glein
Sep 08, 2016 @ 8:00 am

Michelle Obama is arguably one of the most stylish First Ladies in history, a fact that she's proven time and time again since she donned her now-iconic Jason Wu gown at the Inaugural Ball with husband Barack Obama in 2009. FLOTUS, who graces InStyle's October cover, has managed to strike the perfect balance in her wardrobe over the years, wearing everything from well-established fashion houses like Alexander McQueen and Oscar de la Renta to up-and-coming young American designers like Brandon Maxwell.

When we sat down with the First Lady earlier this summer, she opened up about the important role that fashion plays in her life as a political figure. "It goes hand in hand for anyone who’s in the public sphere. Your first interaction with people is what they see. So you can’t take it for granted," she says. "When you’re traveling in a country, the colors you wear, the cut of a dress, the hem length, whether your shoulders are showing—those are all important statements of respect and appreciation and understanding of a culture. But it’s also just as important for the wearer to be comfortable, and that has always been what drives my choices—do I feel good in this? I don’t really care what the trend is."

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Speaking of trends, Mrs. Obama is much more focused on what she's personally drawn to as opposed to what's in style at any particular moment. "I tend not to worry about the trends, because what works for an 18-year-old selfie queen may not for a 52-year-old First Lady who is a mom of teenagers she is trying to be a good role model for," she wisely shares.

But do the mother and her two fashion-forward daughters, Malia, 18, and Sasha, 15, make fashion a family affair? "No, no. The girls do their own thing," the First Lady tells us. "They have their own style that’s very much connected to that of their friends and their community. How we dress when we’re in public may or may not reflect how we dress in our real lives."

And in regards to her off-duty style, the Let Girls Learn founder likes to keep it simple. "Very casual. No makeup, a T-shirt, and a pair of ripped jean shorts or workout pants because I’m always on the verge of going to or coming from [working out]," FLOTUS says of her ideal outfit. "I love color and pieces that make me feel good, but it’s much more informal."

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In addition to being a very stylish first lady, Mrs. Obama also helps girls go to school worldwide with her Let Girls Learn initiative. To get involved and help support girls' education, you can shop InStyle’s super-chic designer tote collection to benefit the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund. Visit Shop.InStyle.com to purchase your limited-edition tote today!

Photo (above): Thomas Whiteside/Eiger Agency; hair: Johnny Wright; makeup: Carl Ray; styling: Melissa Rubini

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