The former first lady was setting examples since the moment she entered the White House.
Michelle Obama remains one of the most admired first ladies of all time and for extremely valid reasons. From the way she conducted herself to her inspirational presence for millions of young girls, she was always the one to lead with example and set the highest standards for moral and ethical behavior. While it may be a simple thing but the fact that she always paid for her outfits out of her own pockets does present an example of integrity which is encouraged in others as well.
Michelle Obama had reveled this fact for the magazine Elle and she speaks about the same in her memoir Becoming. She says that "I paid for all my own clothes and accessories—with the exception of some items like the couture-level gowns I wore to formal events, which were lent to me by the designers and would later be donated to the National Archives, thus adhering to White House ethics guidelines."
Not only this, but Michelle was also influential in highlighting lesser-known designers and providing them the exposure their work needed. She was also aware of the scrutiny that she would be under and that everything she wore would be analyzed to the smallest details. She found a wonderful way to deal with this situation.
She says in her book, "When it came to my choices, I tried to be somewhat unpredictable, to prevent anyone from ascribing any sort of message to what I wore. It was a thin line to walk. I was supposed to stand out without overshadowing others, to blend in but not fade away. As a black woman, too, I knew I’d be criticized if I was perceived as being showy and high-end, and I’d also be criticized if I was too casual. So I mixed it up. I’d match a Michael Kors skirt with a T-shirt from Gap."
She added, "I wore something from Target one day and Diane von Furstenberg the next. I wanted to draw attention to and celebrate American designers, especially those who were less established, even if it sometimes frustrated the old guard, including Oscar de la Renta, who was reportedly displeased that I wasn’t wearing his creations. For me, my choices were simply a way to use my curious relationship with the public gaze to boost a diverse set of up-and-comers."
Needless to say, she managed her time as the first lady with the utmost dignity and it was her incredible attitude which made her the adorable celebrity she'll forever be.