Avoiding public criticism as the First Lady of the United States would be a near impossibility: Not only are you, essentially, the most visible woman on the planet, but you’re also held to standards that might not necessarily reflect your own views, but rather those of your husband. And since assuming the position in January 2017, Melania Trump has certainly experienced her share of controversy. Call it sexist or just call it the reality of assuming the post of First Lady, but a great deal of the wrath directed at Mrs. Trump—like others before her—has been centered around her fashion choices.
Former first lady Michelle Obama endured plenty of public punches over eight years, with pearl-clutchers crowing about propriety because—horror of horrors—the woman wasn’t shy about exposing her arms and legs in sleeveless tops and shorts. In 2009 it was considered a scandal when she wore a pair of $540 Lanvin sneakers to a food bank event. Nancy Reagan courted drama when it was revealed she frequently borrowed clothing and jewelry from top couturiers without disclosing it—an unethical move. Even Mary Todd Lincoln got dragged for buying extravagant ball gowns during the Civil War.
Point is: it’s nothing new to pay extra-close attention to what women in highly visible political positions buy—or don’t buy—and wear. Yet Trump’s choices have held a particular weight because, well, look who her husband is. And while the speculation around some of her fashion choices felt a bit forced, if definitely juicy (see: the one about her secretly supporting Hillary Clinton by wearing a white pantsuit to the 2018 State of the Union), other sartorial decisions have justifiably drawn global attention and public outrage.
The 48-year-old’s biggest gaffe, for example, was a shocker: While traveling to Texas for an unannounced visit to a shelter housing children separated from their parents at the U.S. border in June 2018, Mrs. Trump wore a $39 Zara jacket with a message on the back: “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?”
Many Americans were highly disturbed by the choice, and the jacket—which FLOTUS wore to board and disembark her plane at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland—ignited a fierce debate online and across cable news. A spokesperson for the First Lady essentially said the reaction was blown out of proportion, and that it was just a jacket, but it was difficult to see it that way given the tensions surrounding the visit, and the fact that Trump surely has advisers who easily could have said “Hey, maybe that slogan parka isn’t the best idea today.”
Because FLOTUS’s jacket choice might have just become the most glaring political fashion “don’t” of all time, keep reading for a look at her other style moments that have gotten America talking since she stepped into the national spotlight.
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