Michelle Obama Forgoes Headscarf in Saudi Arabia, Wears Jimmy Choo in India

Michelle Obama Saudi Arabia
New Saudi King Salman (right) walks alongside U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama after the Obamas arrived at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh on Jan. 27, 2015.
Getty Images

President Obama and his wife, Michelle, took a quick trip to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to pay their respects to the late Saudi King Abdullah and to hold meetings with the country’s new leader, King Salman bin Abdulaziz. But the world’s attention soon turned to the First Lady for not wearing a traditional headscarf.

In Saudia Arabia, women are expected to cover their heads and bodies, and most women wear niqabs — a garment whose only opening is a slit for the eyes. More than 1,500 tweets soon hit Twitter criticizing Michelle Obama for not going along with the country’s strict religious and cultural customs.

In her defense, exceptions are made for foreigners, and in photographs from the event, other foreign female guests were also shown not wearing headscarves. The First Lady covered her body in loose clothing, wearing black pointy-toe shoes.

Before this trip to Saudi Arabia, Michelle was hitting all the right fashion notes during the President’s trip to India. There, her style focused on floral prints, including a blue-and-white poppies number from Indian-born designer Bibhu Mohapatra, which she paired with Jimmy Choo Aza pumps for her arrival in New Delhi.

She also wore Jimmy Choo — the Tide pump in gold — to the banquet that India’s president, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, threw in their honor.

Michelle Obama in Jimmy Choos India The Obamas arriving at the banquet thrown for them by India’s president, Shri Pranab Mukherjee (second from left). Getty Images