Kate Betts, on Michelle Obama

Kate Betts knows a fashion icon when she sees one. The former Harper’s Bazaar editor (and other top-of-the-masthead posts at Vogue and Women’s Wear Daily) was so taken with the first lady’s rule-breaking sartorial choices, she wrote the book Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style (Clarkson Potter, $35). Betts, who is 47 like Michelle, will be at Books & Books Coral Gables 8 p.m. Monday and attend a Grey Goose VIP party Tuesday evening at Mister Collins restaurant at ONE Bal Harbour Resort & Spa.

We talked to the author before the trip from New York, where she lives with her husband, writer Chip Brown, and their two kids:

Can you explain why Michelle Obama has such incredible style? How is it “All American?’’

She has a sense of confidence and self-possession that is uniquely American. Her ability to be true to herself in such a public position is something I admire and think of as a very American trait. She’s not following the rules or dress codes of Washington political wives, she is dressing for herself and standing tall.

She’s known for shopping at affordable stores like Gap and H&M. Is this what does it?

This high and low mix certainly defines an aspect of her casual style. When you think about it, Mrs. Obama is really the first “casual’’ first lady we’ve had. It’s clever because wearing accessible brands makes her seem more accessible. It also speaks to the economic tenor of our times.

What are your closet essentials?

This is a tough one because it’s constantly changing. I always have a black dress on hand, that is essential as are a great pair of flats like the Azzedine Alaia ones I’ve been wearing recently. Black patent pumps, a great statement necklace, a gorgeous printed blouse or scarf or dress, and sunglasses especially in the summer. I really could not go anywhere, though, without my iPhone, my MacBook Pro and my reading glasses.


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