Michelle Obama: first lady, Harvard-educated lawyer, mother of two, style icon and three-time Vogue cover star.
Dressed in a white Carolina Herrera dress and Monique Péan earrings, "the first lady the world fell in love with," as the fashion magazine's December cover blurb reads, looks as gorgeous as ever while posing for famed photographer Annie Leibovitz. In her accompanying interview with the glossy, the Chicago native opens up about her eight-year tenure in the White House with her husband, President Barack Obama.
"Everything we do is by choice," she says of her role as first lady. "I could have spent eight years doing anything, and at some level, it would have been fine. I could have focused on flowers. I could have focused on décor. I could have focused on entertainment. Because any first lady, rightfully, gets to define her role. There's no legislative authority; you're not elected. And that's a wonderful gift of freedom."
Since moving into the White House with her family, Michelle has achieved great success with programs like Let Girls Learn, and assisting veterans and their families. Not to mention, she's delivered incredibly moving speeches, with her most recent at a campaign rally for Hillary Clinton prior to Election Day and bringing the crowd to tears.
Michelle says that during her husband's campaign trail, the question she was asked most was, "What kind of first lady will you be?" to which she always replied, "I won't know until I get there."
"Michelle never asked to be first lady," Barack tells Vogue. "Like a lot of political spouses, the role was thrust upon her. But I always knew she'd be incredible at it, and put her own unique stamp on the job."
"That's because who you see is who she is -- the brilliant, funny, generous woman who, for whatever reason, agreed to marry me," he continues. "I think people gravitate to her because they see themselves in her -- a dedicated mom, a good friend, and someone who's not afraid to poke a little fun at herself from time to time."
"I will take the same approach leaving as I did coming in," she explains. "I won't know until I'm there. I've never been the former first lady of the United States before. But I will always be engaged in some way in public service and public life."
"The minute I left my corporate-law firm to work for the city, I never looked back," she continues. "I've always felt very alive using my gifts and talents to help other people. I sleep better at night. I'm happier. So we'll look back at the issues that I've been working on. The question is: How do I engage in those issues from a new platform?"
"I can't say right now," she adds, "because we can't spend that much time really doing the hard work of vetting offers or ideas or options because we're still closing things out here. We're still in full implement mode. Don't feel like anyone's letting me slow down."
Aside from everything she's done to support her husband as president, Michelle will also forever be remembered and loved as one of the most stylish first lady's America has seen since Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the ‘60s. Her No. 1 style secret? "Comfort level."
"If I’m going to make you comfortable, than I have to be comfortable first," Michelle dishes. "So my first reaction isn’t ‘Who made this?’ but ‘Let’s try it on. What does it look like? Oooh, that’s cute. Oh, wow. I never thought of wearing something like this. Let’s put a belt on it. I feel good in this.'"
"There are definitely designers that I love, people I love to work with," she admits. "And who they are as people matters. Are they good people? Do they treat their staff well? Do they treat my staff well? Are they young? Can I give them a boost? But! When all of that is equal… 'Is it cute?!"