By our count, she's worn the dress (which cost about $720 retail) at least seven times since she debuted it on January 21, 2009, the day after President Barack Obama's inauguration, at a non-denominational prayer service held at the Washington National Cathedral followed by a luncheon. On Wednesday, she donned it again to visit the historic Decatur House.
While we mortals might shop our own closets every day, many figures in the public eye shun recycling their own clothing. Joanna Douglas, Yahoo! Shine's senior Fashion and Beauty editor has a theory, "FLOTUS is very practical when it comes to dressing. She packs light for vacation and rewears the same dresses within a very short period of time, unlike celebrities who are afraid to wear the same thing twice. I think women appreciate that she just digs into her closet like anyone else."
What makes this particular dress so versatile? The ballet neckline, fitted bodice, and full, just-below-the-knee-length skirt are universally flattering and chic. While some women may shy away from a jazzy print, this one can be dressed up or down with the right shoes and clutch and doesn't require elaborate jewelry. The dark background adds elegance where a lighter color might be too girly for official events.
In a phone interview with Yahoo! Shine, Nikki Pennie, celebrity stylist and David's Bridal Style Council member, shared her tips for finding the perfect go-to dress.
Sleeve length: "The key element is the three-quarter sleeve length, because you don't have to wear a jacket over it which can look stiff," says Pennie who has dressed celebs from Madonna to Kate Middleton. "If this was a sleeveless dress, I guarantee you she would have only worn it once." Pennie says the three-quater length is the most flexible, but long sleeves work better than sleeveless or capped sleeves.
Color: If you don't go for prints, Pennie advises a rich color like navy or pewter. If you prefer lighter colors, she loves the trend of lace for day, which can look modern in shades such as lavender. "People are moving away from black, especially for day."
Skirt length: "The length of Michelle's dress is perfect and ladylike," says Pennie. If you want a shorter dress, she says stick with a classic shift cut.
Comfort: "It's an effortless way of dressing," says Pennie. "Kate [Middleton] and Michelle are pioneering this trend, they don't have stylists, and they buy their own clothes, it's about being comfortable and hassle-free."
More on Shine:15 Dresses Under $100