While Senator Barack Obama’s wife came first on the list, Senator John McCain’s wife did not make it on to the list at all and was dismissed by critics as being too conventional to be stylish. Mrs Obama joins French first lady Carla Bruni, Kate Middleton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Tilda Swinton, Daniel Craig and Angelina Jolie on the list.Notable among those missing was Victoria Beckham. But given that Mrs Obama topped the lot, it was Mrs McCain who stood out most among the American absentees - and critics appeared to relish the fact.
“Clothes make the woman, after all,” wrote the New York Daily News of the snub.
“Like it or lump it, the personal style of each candidate’s wife has become an important part in establishing individuality, likability and power. Michelle Obama, who has her own favourite high-end designers, has made sure to advertise her everywoman-frugality every chance she gets.”
Keren Eldad, New York fashion manager of the Los Angeles Times, said: “McCain’s style is like the political style of her husband: conservative and outdated. It screams 'safety’ and escapes any nod to change, to risk, or to bravado. She may throw on a tailored leather jacket every once again, but through her pearls and all that hairspray, can we really detect any semblance of inspiration? Of fun?
“Obama, on the other hand, gets it. She is a modern woman, she has fun with fashion, she embraces life with fury and grace - making apparel choices so varied, that time and again signal this woman never sees anything in life as constant. That’s change. And that is the essence of what fashion is all about”.
Vanity Fair’s style connoisseurs deemed Mrs Obama ready for the crown of the world’s best-dressed woman for her ensemble of a Maria Pinto purple sheath dress, with a black Azzedine Alaïa belt, worn when her husband claimed the Democratic presidential nomination. “She’s our commander in sheath,” the magazine said.
When Mrs Obama appeared on the popular US daytime talk show, The View, wearing a black and white Donna Ricci dress that cost $148 (£74), the dress sold out overnight and made the designer a household name.
Mrs McCain, on the other hand, has been criticised for her stiff appearance and dress — her hair until recently was always styled in a rigid “up-do” - and is often compared with a Stepford Wife or a cyborg in the media and on blogs. When Mrs McCain made an effort to soften her image and literally let her hair down for a Vogue photo shoot, the Washington Post ran a feature on the transformation.