Michelle Obama’s $7,000 Jacket Has Critics Grumbling

The First Lady in J. MendelThe First Lady in J. MendelFirst lady Michelle Obama looked fit for a queen when she attended an Olympics reception at Buckingham Palace on July 27, and some critics are complaining that her silver embroidered jacket cost a king's ransom. Although not yet in stores, the white, capped sleeved number by J. Mendel lists for $6,800.

"The jacket cost more than the average American family makes in a month ($4,284)," kvetched the conservative blog thegatewaypundit.com. "And, she does this as Americans continue to suffer through a deep recession and record unemployment." A commenter called Granny points out, "I had better not EVER hear another word about a mere $900 blouse on Mrs. Romney's back or Sarah Palin's $300 shoes. EVER."

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Since she first hit the campaign trail with her husband, Obama has been an international style icon and has appeared on numerous "best dressed lists." Defender Robert Verdi, a celebrity stylist, shot back to the NY Daily News, "She isn't just wearing a $6,800 jacket--she's supporting the commerce of the nation." He added that "It's not wasteful, it's inspiring: it's a New York company-selling a product made in the US…and it helps the tailor and the little dry cleaner on the corner stay in business."

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Like Kate Middleton, who also attended the reception, Obama is known for mixing both "high" and "low" fashion. Last winter, the First Lady was spotted wearing a $39.99 Jason Wu for Target dress. Previously, she had tapped the designer, who was then unknown, to create her couture one-shoulder gown for the inauguration ball. Wu, who studied at Parsons in New York City, credits her for launching his career.

Love it or loathe it, when Michelle Obama wears something, people look--whether it's the mid-priced J. Crew separates she often dons on the road or when promoting her Let's Move campaign or a $2000 cardigan by swank designer L'Wrenn Scott. One result of her visibility is sales. It's estimated that the "Obama effect" has generated over $2.7 billion for the fashion industry since her husband took office, despite the shaky economy.

Is First Lady Michelle Obama's fashion an inspiration or insensitive? Please let us know what you think in the comments below.

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