Choosing to wear American designers like Maria Pinto and shopping at retail chains like J-Crew, Michelle Obama has become the new face of the American design community. With U.S. retailers struggling to make a profit in our current economic climate, the future First Lady is leading the way for a new approach to fashion, wearing cheap and chic finds.

“Mrs. Obama is, first of all, very elegant and has wonderful taste. But she also recognizes the value of beautiful dresses and not big prices. She dresses like taste doesn’t necessarily have to do with brand or status, but with what looks well on your body and makes you look glamorous, bottom line,” Stephanie Solomon, the fashion director of Bloomingdale’s, told the Solomon adds she is “very refreshing and appropriate for this period.” —QS