Mary Alice Stephenson: How To Style Michelle Obama

by Ross Kenneth Urken · January 12, 2011

    Stylist for the stars Mary Alice Stephenson talked some fashion strategy in a political context when we caught her at the Waldorf Astoria for the 45th Annual YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund Awards.

    "I don't design; I style," goes Stephenson's motto, and she discussed the how she enhanced Michelle Obama's style for the September issue of Harper's Bazaar.

    First off, Stephenson is loath to change  a person's inherent fashion instincts; she works within that framework so the person's aura incurs as little change as possible.

    "Michelle Obama is a beautiful, elegant woman," she said. "She's surrounded by kids and she didn't change. She wasn't advertising fashion. It was her dress."

    Having served as co-host of the show America's Most Smartest Model and consulted for such stars as Will Smith and Beyonce, Stephenson knows that public figures do not need to sacrifice sexiness for heady appeal. She applied the same philosophy when working this fall with the First Lady, who chose a red dress from her own wardrobe.

    "I think Michelle Obama is an extremely powerful, glamorous woman," Stephenson said, "and she shows you that you can look your most fashionable and glamorous and still be taken seriously and still be powerful instead of being dumbed down wearing clothes that aren't feminine just to make people think you're  smarter."

    Take that, pant suits!