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Michelle Obama's Other Big Message: It's in the Necklace

Her 'vote' necklace goes viral as she encourages people to turn out in person
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2020 11:39 AM CDT

(Newser) – Michelle Obama took plenty of pointed jabs at President Trump Monday night, and he took notice. But another aspect of the former first lady's speech for the Democratic National Convention is generating lots of attention—and it involves her words and her necklace. Coverage:

  • The message: Obama's tweaking of Trump with the phrase "it is what it is" made headlines, but Ian Millhiser of Vox thinks a different set of five words were the most important of her speech. It was when she encouraged Democrats to vote "in person if we can." This is a "subtle but important shift in the party's messaging," writes Millhiser. With doubts surfacing about mail-in ballots, Obama encouraged Democrats to get out in person. "We have got to grab our comfortable shoes, put on our masks, pack a brown bag dinner and maybe breakfast, too," she said, per NPR, "because we've got to be willing to stand in line all night if we have to." Those who do cast ballots by mail should return them early, she added.

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  • The necklace: During her speech, Obama wore a gold necklace that spelled out V-O-T-E, and it's been trending on Twitter since, reports the Hill. In fact, Footwear News already has dubbed it the "must-have accessory of 2020."
  • The maker: The custom necklace was made by Chari Cuthbert, a young Black entrepreneur for her ByChari brand. Cuthbert says Obama's stylist ordered the necklace a few weeks ago. "But we had no idea where she was going to wear it," she tells the Daily Beast. When Cuthbert realized Obama was wearing it during her address, "it was surreal," she says. "I sat at my desk and cried."
  • Booming: Cuthbert's company, which has only five employees, all female, is seeing a "significant uptick" in business because of the publicity: "My finance guy just texted me a bunch of exclamation points, so I assume that’s a good thing."
  • The praise: At the New York Times, fashion writer Vanessa Friedman lauds the choice. The necklace "made a virtue of a recorded speech," she writes. "It beckoned you in, emphasizing the close-up, the intimate nature of her address, calling attention to the details. It wasn't bombastic, or made to be seen in a giant convention center. It was personal, as was her statement."
  • The influencer: ByChari wasn't exactly an unknown brand before this, and it "gained even more traction as the support for Black-owned businesses swelled this summer," writes Kenzie Bryant at Vanity Fair. "So now it's gotten another enormous boost. Obama still has her own influencing touch if one is judging by the instant gushing on Twitter."
(Read more Michelle Obama stories.)

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