China First Lady Peng Liyuan's winning style

China's first lady Peng Liyuan poses for a picture with kids from Yu Ying Public Charter School (not pictured) during visit to the Smithsonian Zoo accompanied by United States first lady Michelle Obama (not pictured) in Washington on Sept 25, 2015.
China's first lady Peng Liyuan poses for a picture with kids from Yu Ying Public Charter School (not pictured) during visit to the Smithsonian Zoo accompanied by United States first lady Michelle Obama (not pictured) in Washington on Sept 25, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS
At a White House dinner held in honour of her husband, Ms Peng's (above left) teal-blue gown, matching the colour of Mr Xi's pocket square, features detailed embroidery. Lest you call her too conservative, she shows a bit of skin with cropped sleeves and
At a White House dinner held in honour of her husband, Ms Peng's (above left) teal-blue gown, matching the colour of Mr Xi's pocket square, features detailed embroidery. Lest you call her too conservative, she shows a bit of skin with cropped sleeves and a keyhole neckline.PHOTOS: REUTERS, BLOOMBERG
Ms Peng (right) in a power suit at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, with Mrs Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. The pairing of a collarless jacket with her white shirt highlights the mandarin collar d
Ms Peng (right) in a power suit at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, with Mrs Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. The pairing of a collarless jacket with her white shirt highlights the mandarin collar detail and the black skirt accentuates her figure. PHOTOS: REUTERS, BLOOMBERG
Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan attends a meeting on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York on Sept 27, 2015.
Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan attends a meeting on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York on Sept 27, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS
First lady Michelle Obama (right) escorts Madame Peng Liyuan, wife of China's President Xi Jinping, to the State Dinner at the White House in Washington on Sept 25, 2015.
First lady Michelle Obama (right) escorts Madame Peng Liyuan, wife of China's President Xi Jinping, to the State Dinner at the White House in Washington on Sept 25, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS
Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan listens to remarks delivered during a luncheon at the State Department, in Washington, on Sept 25, 2015.
Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan listens to remarks delivered during a luncheon at the State Department, in Washington, on Sept 25, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

China's First Lady Peng Liyuan is her usual picture of elegance during a state visit to the United States

Ms Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, touched down in Seattle, Washington, last Tuesday for a week-long state visit.

The couple have been married for 28 years and have a 23-year-old daughter, Ms Xi Mingze, a Harvard graduate who studied psychology and English. Ms Peng was born in Shandong and rose to fame as a folk singer.

While her husband was busy with political talks, she visited the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle and the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington.

While the media frequently compares Ms Peng's wardrobe to that of Mrs Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States, Ms Peng's style is the more formal and conservative of the two.

She incorporates Chinese design details into her outfits, occasionally donning a cheongsam or mandarin collar. Most of the time, though, the 53-year-old wears sharply tailored blazers over feminine dresses in neutral colours and patterns for official state events.


A demure look for Ms Peng Liyuan (left), who pairs a floaty white blouse with pink floral motifs with a satin pink skirt, as she and US First Lady Michelle Obama announce the name of the giant panda cub, Bei Bei, at the Smithsonian National Zoo. PHOTO: REUTERS


Looking fresh arriving in Seattle after a 14-hour flight, Ms Peng (left, with her husband, Chinese President Xi Jinping) wears traditional Chinese dress elements with aplomb in this two-piece skirt suit. Take note of her matching clutch. PHOTO: REUTERS


Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan attends a meeting on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York on Sept 27, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS


First lady Michelle Obama (right) escorts Madame Peng Liyuan, wife of China's President Xi Jinping, to the State Dinner at the White House in Washington on Sept 25, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS


Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan listens to remarks delivered during a luncheon at the State Department, in Washington, on Sept 25, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

Accessories and embellishments are kept to a minimum, although she is partial to a pair of pearl earrings, which she shows off by sweeping her hair into an elegant bouffant. Ms Peng, who appeared in Vanity Fair's International Best-Dressed List two years ago, particularly likes to highlight her waist with figure-hugging blazers or by belting up over her jackets.

And unlike the more fashion-forward Mrs Obama, Ms Peng rarely discloses the brands or labels she wears.

Nevertheless, she has earned a reputation for being stylish, thanks to her outfits by reclusive Chinese designer Ma Ke.

On the other hand, Mrs Obama has been spotted wearing gowns by designers such as Jason Wu and Vera Wang on numerous occasions. She wore a sexy black fitted off-shoulder gown with a tulle flounce by Wang for the White House state dinner last Friday. At the same dinner, Ms Peng chose to cover up in a long-sleeved teal-blue gown.

The South China Morning Post declared Ms Peng had "turn(ed) on the style" for the dinner, while Mrs Obama's gown "stole the show", according to New York magazine's fashion and style section The Cut.

Not to be outdone by her American counterpart, the Chinese First Lady was a picture of elegance during her US trip with her power uniform of skirt suits and ramrod-straight posture.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2015, with the headline 'Winning style'. Print Edition | Subscribe