Marking her 49th birthday this week, Michelle Obama – ever the giver – celebrated by gifting the world two things: another Twitter account (now four days old, it already has over 60,000 followers) and a new hairstyle.
Snapped meeting David Hall, a citizen co-chair on the Presidential Inaugural Committee, he was rather overshadowed by her red Zac Posen frock and a new 70s-style full fringe.
With fashion insiders already speculating what she might wear for Monday's inauguration – WWD even asked designers including Tommy Hilfiger and Vera Wang for potential designs – this is the first lady throwing us a style bone. If Kate Middleton caused a press storm when she debuted her new Farah Fawcett-ish flicked hairstyle – five days before the news of her pregnancy was announced, it had almost as much coverage – arguably Obama has even more sway over style. There's little doubt her haircut – a kind of longer, artfully messy version of Joanna Lumley's Purdey – will instantly be dubbed The Michelle and asked for by name in hairdressers across the land.
But, while Obama is without a doubt one of the most watched women on the planet, her new hairstyle is also part of a trend. The fringe – once tainted with memories of bowl cuts and that tortuous growing-out process – has been making a bit of a comeback. Beyoncé now sports a thick, neat fringe down to her eyebrows, and Kim Kardashian debuted a side-swept style last week. The New York Times even went so far as to call The Karlie – a pixie bob with fringe, named after model Karlie Kloss's hairstyle – the haircut of 2013. Obama's version, then, is the ultimate endorsement for the fringe.
As for any clues it provides for what she will be wearing come Monday's inaugeration, the jury is still out. A 60s-style shift with go-go boots, maybe? A catsuit a la Lumley? Perhaps not – our money is on something safe and stylish like J Crew. For this ultimate photo op, though, one thing is for sure: she should take note of Middleton's experiences and get the hairspray out. As the Duchess of Cambridge found out on a blustery trip to Cambridge post-chop, fringes don't take kindly to wind.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010