Inappropriate Outfits Michelle Obama Has Been Caught Wearing

Michelle Obama may as well be known as the first lady of style. After all, Mrs. Obama seldom makes a fashion faux pas. In the eight years Barack Obama was in office, she rarely made a misstep. Michelle has transformed her look and regularly makes headline news with her stylish outfits. The bold, outspoken author is not afraid to show some skin, and with her snatched figure, she easily pulls off most of her choices.

For instance, critics applauded the magenta outfit Michelle wore at the January 2021 inauguration of President Joe Biden, per Marie ClaireThe strong, dark hue typically represents bipartisanship, uniting the red and blue. She chose to wear the purple shade after a divisive election. To former president Donald Trump's 2017 inauguration, the Harvard Law School graduate wore a red coat dress by Jason Wu. Vanity Fair wrote that "her fashion legacy will continue to cast a long shadow on her successors." At the 2013 inaugural ball — her second as first lady — she wore the same designer. Another fashion critic delivered their verdict about the ensemble, also via Vanity Fair, and noted that Michelle "clearly understands the power of clothes."

However, the former first lady's fashion choices have not always been met with applause. There have been times when Michelle's clothes had critics shaking their heads and calling the fashion police to issue citations. Keep scrolling to see some of Michelle Obama's more inappropriate outfits.

Michelle Obama goes sleeveless in her first official photo

Michelle Obama has never been afraid to challenge the status quo. One of her more controversial fashion choices was when she went sleeveless in her first official photo as wife of the sitting president. In the photo, she wore what became her signature look while her spouse was in office. She looked elegant in a black shift dress and a classic pearl necklace glistened around her throat. According to ABC Newssome people felt that her look was too informal and was out of season. It seemed as if they were taking issue with her bare arms. The portrait photograph was taken in March 2009, and many felt that her clothing was not appropriate for the weather. 

Interestingly, however, Obama was not the first president's wife to wear sleeveless dresses. In the late 1800s, Frances Cleveland, President Grover Cleveland's 21-year-old spouse, showed off her bare neck, shoulders, and arms. The Women's Christian Temperance Union was outraged, of course, and drew up a petition because they insisted that she was corrupting the "morals" of impressionable young women, per Time.

The petition did not stop Frances from flaunting her assets, though, and the outrage certainly did not stop Obama 100 years later. The fashion-forward Obama continued showing off her sculpted arms every chance that she got. More power to her!

Michelle Obama puts on a leggy display in shorts

Even on vacation, Michelle Obama's fashion choices were put under the spotlight. In 2009, the former first lady and her family were enjoying the Grand Canyon. Obama went super casual in the hot summer weather as she relaxed on her holiday. The wife and mother-of-two wore jean shorts that hit her mid-thigh. On her upper half, she wore a white t-shirt and threw a short-sleeve checkered shirt over the top. Still, she caused a stir when photos of her in said shorts hit the press.

Today reported that the shorts drew a mixed reaction from the public. Some loved that her style showed an accessible first lady, while others felt that it was inappropriate. Obama also weighed in on her look in an interview with BET's 106 and Park, per US Weekly. When asked about her biggest fashion regret, she revealed that sometimes she forgot that she was always in the public eye.

"Sometimes I forget I'm the first lady and I'm running around in shorts," Obama told the show's hosts. "I know the first time we went on a family vacation I had shorts on getting off of Air Force One. That created a huge stink because people were like, 'She's wearing shorts getting off of Air Force One.' And I thought, 'We're on vacation! ' So, I've avoided shorts getting off of Air Force One," Obama revealed. In that heat, though, who could blame her?

Michelle Obama meets Queen Elizabeth II in a J. Crew cardigan

At least one highly regarded fashion designer was scratching his head when Michelle Obama met with Queen Elizabeth II in a cardigan. Oscar de la Renta did not mince his words when it came to the former FLOTUS' style choices on her trip to the U.K. In an interview with Women's Wear Daily from April 2009, de la Renta lambasted her attire. "You don't... go to Buckingham Palace in a sweater." Photos revealed that Obama wore her signature look — an A-line black skirt, a cardigan, a white shirt, and a simple strand of pearls. However, de la Renta ripped into the first lady for not making a more fashionable statement on this occasion.

"I don't object to the fact that Mrs. Obama is wearing J. Crew to whatever because the diversity of America is what makes this country great," de la Renta noted. "But there are a lot of great designers out there. I think it's wrong to go in one direction only," he added, urging Obama to support the American design industry, which was in a slump at the time of his criticism. It seems as if he thought that Mrs. O could have gone glamorous and supported local designers at the same time.

As for the queen, she stuck to her tried-and-trusted pink dress, and everyone thought she looked lovely.

Michelle Obama's $540 sneakers had tongues wagging

Michelle Obama also drew heat when she went for a casual look while volunteering at a food bank in Washington, D.C. in May 2009. The former president's wife looked chic in her toned-down ensemble. She sported a cardigan over a white tee, stone-colored Capri pants, and a pair of Lanvin sneakers. At the time, the French designer's shoes retailed at a whopping $540. Immediately, the cost of the suede shoes started a buzz as people aired their opinions about Obama's sneakers.

CBS News reported that the shoes sparked controversy because she wore them to a food bank. It seems as if many felt that she was insensitive by wearing them to a place frequented by people who were in need. When Obama's reps allegedly pointed out that they were "just shoes," per the New York Daily News, it sparked outrage. 

A few years later, Obama's pricey sneakers seem laughable when compared the cost to former FLOTUS Melania Trump's $51,000 Dolce & Gabanna floral coat that she wore in 2017.

In former president Barack Obama's recent memoir A Promised Land, he revealed there is one item of clothing Michelle Obama never wanted to wear during her husband's tenure. She avoided wearing swimsuits in the public eye. A few years after his term in office, however, she was spotted in a bikini in 2018 while enjoying some time with her family in Miami. Way to go, Mrs. O!