The style bible's annual best-dressed list, which proclaimed that America's First Lady is more chic than France's Première Dame, was unveiled on Friday, Nov 27.
It is the second year in a row that 42-year-old Carla has come second on the list; last year Elle put her behind Asma Assad, the British-born wife of the Syrian President.
The Elle style jury was led by Nathalie Rykiel, of the Sonia Rykiel house, reports The Times.
Elle said, "Mrs Obama resembles no one else - her style is unique. She encourages young designers and has succeeded in imposing the waisted cardigan as official dress."
Rama Yade (33) Nicolas Sarkozy's Senegalese-born junior Sports Minister, came third, with Princess Letizia of Spain fourth and Segolène Royal, the Socialist party maverick, in fifth place.
The winners in Elle's other seven categories were:
Stylista: Tilda Swinton
Total-noir: Valerie Lemercier (French actress-comedian)
British Girl: Alexa Chung
Sexy bombe: Scarlett Johansson
Fashion pointue: Natalia Vodianova
Red Carpet: Penelope Cruz
It Girl: Elettra Wiedermann