Why All Eyes Will Be on Melania Trump's Outfit at the State of the Union
When congressional women wear white, she wears black. When they wear black, she wears white. Will she do it again?
As the president likes to remind us, Melania Trump is fluent in multiple languages. And that includes the language of fashion.
The characteristically quiet FLOTUS likes to let her clothing do the talking — whether that be literally, by way of a statement jacket, or metaphorically, with a suspiciously timed pussy bow blouse. Based upon her history, there will likely be no statement from her spokesperson or tweet from the official FLOTUS account regarding her feelings on the politics of the State of the Union address. The only thing to interpret will be her outfit.
This year, the Democratic Women's Working Group is encouraging women of both parties to wear white as a nod to suffragettes and those who paved the way for greater female representation in our government. The organization encouraged the same in February 2017, during the president's address to a joint session of Congress. "Wearing suffragette white is a respectful message of solidarity with women across the country, and a declaration that we will not go back on our hard-earned rights," Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida, the chair of the working group, told CNN at the time. Dozens of women arrived in white.
However, Melania arrived at the 2017 joint session address in a black Michael Kors skirt suit, standing in exact contrast to those congresswomen. At the time, her defiance seemingly went unnoticed, with most focused on the glamorous suit's embellishments — and its $10k price tag.
Of course, the following year saw the rise of #MeToo, Time's Up, and the 2018 Golden Globes "blackout." During the 2018 State of the Union, congressional women acknowledged the #MeToo movement, and, taking a cue from Hollywood, headed to the Capitol building in head-to-toe black, many sporting Time's Up pins. The goal was to give a voice to the often voiceless survivors and victims of sexual harassment and abuse. In an interview with Vox, Rep. Lois Frankel, said they sought to send, “a message of solidarity with those who are seeking economic security and a cultural shift that enables men and women to work side by side, in safety and dignity, free of sexual harassment, and be paid fairly for the value of their work."
The sartorial display was also a statement of support for the 19 women who have accused President Trump of harassment.
And what did Melania wear? White, head-to-toe.
Her Dior pantsuit was a bold choice, considering the close association to her husband's own foe, Hillary Clinton, whose white Ralph Lauren pantsuit from the Democratic National Convention in 2016 was so iconic, many of her supporters wore the look to the polls that year.
Some onlookers took the opportunity to project an agenda onto an otherwise seemingly agenda-less FLOTUS: They called it subversive, a means to undermine her husband and to silently stand for the cause of feminism and the suffragettes. Members of that camp also noted that Dior's creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, is a fierce feminist.
Then there were those that insinuated that Melania's white look was a middle finger to the women in black. Like in 2017, they said, the First Lady's fashion defiance spoke volumes.
With congressional women planning to wear white tonight, we wonder, what will Melania wear? There is the possibility that the First Lady will opt for a bold color on Tuesday night, or perhaps a pattern for the evening's address. She's no stranger to either, for what it's worth. But one thing is for sure, everyone will be looking for clues that might point to her motivations.