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New York Times Fashion Diary: She Dresses to Win

What Ms. Taylor read in Mrs. Obama’s appearance on Tuesday, she said, was a message that she is primed to become first lady, although not necessarily first hostess. “Every woman I talked to was saying how she has this confidence that is empowered,” Ms. Taylor said. “The purple dress, the legs that I have to believe were bare and not wearing the prerequisite suntan stockings, all say, ‘I’m here to do business.’ ”

If the gumball pearls were a retro wink at traditional decorum, they still read as anything but wifely jewels. “Those are not little ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ pearls,” Ms. Taylor said. “Those are large pearls. Those are pearls you have to deal with.” It could be, of course, that voters won’t warm up to a pearls-you-have-to-deal-with personality.