She has been likened to Jacqueline Kennedy, is as high-powered as Hillary Clinton was, and has praised Laura Bush's calm and rational approach to issues.
So what kind of first lady will Michelle Obama be?
This much is certain: She will be a kind this country hasn't seen in decades: the mother of young children.
Barack Obama has portrayed his wife as a top adviser, and it's a safe bet she will continue in that role, as first ladies before her have.
But aides say she is not interested in shaping policy. She prefers, at least for now, to focus on Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7 – getting them into new schools, settled and comfortable with a new way of life.
Not since 1977, when 9-year-old Amy Carter moved in, have such young children lived at the White House.
“My first job in all honesty is going to continue to be mom-in-chief,” she told Ebony magazine.
Michelle Obama was a high-level administrator at the University of Chicago Medical Center before taking a leave to help her husband. She knows about the juggling working mothers do and wants to work on the issue as first lady.
“How to make sure our policies are structured in a way that supports that balance, whether it's more work/family leave, whether it's better health care. There are a lot of policies that go along with allowing women that freedom,” she said.
Valerie Jarrett, a family friend helping to lead the president-elect transition team, said in a broadcast interview Sunday: “Being co-president is not something she's interested in doing.”
An Ivy League-educated lawyer, Michelle Obama was criticized during the campaign, and Jarrett's comments could be taken as the beginning of an effort to lower her profile, possibly to avoid the mistake the Clintons made.
Bill Clinton joked in the 1992 campaign that the country would get two for one if he were elected. A lawyer and children's advocate before he became president, Hillary Clinton took an assignment early in his administration to overhaul the nation's health care system. She failed, damaging herself and her husband's administration.
Laura Bush took things slow, but grew increasingly comfortable with her public platform. She championed the rights of women in Afghanistan, delivered some of her husband's weekly radio addresses and spoke against the crackdown on pro-democracy activists in the southeast Asian nation of Myanmar.
She even presided over a news conference in the White House briefing room this year to criticize Myanmar's military leaders for ineptness after a killer cyclone.
So, back to what kind of first lady Michelle Obama will be.
There are clues, including from her. Comparisons to Jacqueline Kennedy have centered on style. Watch for Michelle Obama to be a trendsetter, possibly a reluctant one. A sleeveless, off-the-rack, black-and-white dress she wore on “The View” quickly sold out.
Her approach to issues? Perhaps like Laura Bush.
The first lady defended Michelle Obama this year after Republicans criticized her for saying that for the first time in her adult life she was proud of her country. Laura Bush said comments made during the heat of a campaign are closely watched and misconstrued.
Michelle Obama said on “The View” she was touched and had sent Bush a note.
“And that's what I like about Laura Bush. You know, just calm, rational approach to these issues. And you know, I'm taking some cues.”