13 times first ladies wore affordable clothing

Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty ImagesMichelle Obama wearing a floral dress from Talbots in 2013.
  • While first ladies of yesteryear preferred high-fashion designers and custom creations, modern presidents’ wives like Michelle Obama and Melania Trump have been spotted wearing affordable fashion brands.
  • Michelle Obama regularly wore items from J. Crew, Gap, and Target during Barack Obama’s presidency.
  • Melania Trump has also worn affordable pieces, such as Timberland boots and Converse sneakers.
  • Barbara Bush famously wore a $US29 pair of shoes to her husband’s inaugural ball.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

From Jackie Kennedy to Melania Trump, first ladies have long been lauded as fashion icons.

However, in recent years, first ladies have experimented with affordable looks from brands like J. Crew, Gap, White House Black Market, J Brand, and even Target.

Here are 13 times US first ladies have worn affordable clothing.


Though she often prefers designer brands, first lady Melania Trump has been spotted wearing affordable accessories like baseball hats and Timberland boots.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty ImagesGovernor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rossello, President Trump, and Melania Trump before departing Puerto Rico in 2017.

Before departing Puerto Rico in 2017, following meeting victims of the devastating Hurricane Maria, the first lady was seen wearing a pair of $US170 Timberland boots.


Melania Trump has worn Converse sneakers on multiple occasions.

Win McNamee/Getty ImagesMelania Trump gardening in 2017.

While hosting the Boys and Girls Club at the White House in 2017, Trump wore a navy pair of Converse sneakers – which typically cost around $US50 – to plant and harvest vegetables.


After returning to the White House from a weekend at presidential retreat Camp David in 2017, she was seen wearing an affordable top from J. Crew.

Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty ImagePresident Trump, Melania Trump, and their son, Barron.

The pink gingham button-up shirt, which the first lady paired with casual pink pants, retailed for $US75.


After another weekend away, she was spotted wearing a pair of J Brand jeans.

Zach Gibson/Getty ImagesThe Trumps cross the South Lawn after arriving at The White House on June 18, 2017.

The jeans are on the slightly pricier side at $US188.


Michelle Obama has never been a stranger to affordable fashion. During an appearance on “The View,” she wore a dress from White House Black Market.

Steve Fenn/Walt Disney Television/Getty ImagesMichelle Obama on ‘The View’ in 2008.

While campaigning for Barack Obama’s first term in 2008, Michelle Obama made an appearance on “The View” in a $US148 black-and-white printed dress. The dress seemingly sold out overnight and shot designer Donna Ricco to fame.


While attending the G-20 Summit in 2009, Obama paired J. Crew items together.

Dan Kitwood/Getty ImagesMichelle Obama attending the G-20 Summit in 2009.

According to a previous article by Business Insider, the outfit came entirely from J. Crew, from the glitzy $US298 cardigan to the $US158 mint-green pencil skirt. Obama layered an $US18 tank top, the most affordable part of her outfit, under her cardigan.


While arriving in Arizona in 2009, Obama was photographed wearing an A-line dress from Target.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty ImagesMichelle Obama and daughter Sasha step off Air Force One after arriving in Phoenix, Arizona, on August 15, 2009.

The dress, from Target’s discontinued Merona line, retailed for just $US19.


The former first lady also wore a dress from Gap in 2011.

YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty ImagesMichelle and Barack Obama before their departure to Camp David in 2011.

The blue-and-white printed dress, which Obama wore as a tunic over a pair of white pants, cost just $US29.99.


That same year, Obama wore an affordable dress from H&M while appearing on the Today show.

Peter Kramer/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty ImagesMichelle Obama on the Today show in 2011.

She altered the $US34.95 polka dot dress to include sleeves, according to InStyle.


Michelle Obama turned heads in an ASOS dress while campaigning in Iowa in 2012.

Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post/Getty ImagesMichelle and Barack Obama campaigning in Iowa in 2012.

The fit-and-flare, ’50s-style dress originally retailed for $US93.34, according to Fashionista. Actress Jessica Alba later wore the same dress in 2014.


Michelle Obama wore a colourful floral dress from Talbots in 2013.

Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty ImagesMichelle Obama wearing a floral dress from Talbots in 2013.

The former first lady was spotted wearing pieces from the brand throughout her husband’s presidency, but this dress stands out as one of her most affordable looks. The yellow printed dress retailed for $US55 when Obama was spotted wearing it, down from its original price of $US169.


Barbara Bush wore a strand of fake pearls and a pair of $US29 shoes to George H.W. Bush’s inaugural ball in 1989.

Cynthia Johnson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty ImagesGeorge H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush attend the inaugural ball in 1989.

According to the New York Times, Bush wore the necklace many times throughout her life in the public eye – so much so that the pearls became her signature. Designed by jeweller Kenneth Jay Lane specifically for Barbara Bush, they cost just $US150 to this day.


Betty Ford was a fan of designer Albert Capraro, whose prices were affordable.

AP Photo/Dave PickoffBetty Ford and designer Albert Capraro outfits her for her new spring wardrobe in 1981.

After spotting designs by then-31-year-old Albert Capraro in a Washington newspaper, the first lady was impressed by his commitment to using American-made fabrics and his affordable price ranges. According to People, Capraro charged just $US80 for day dresses and under $US200 for evening gowns in 1975.

Ford asked Capraro to visit her to “sound out her spring wardrobe,” and the pair continued working together throughout her time in the White House.

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