Beyond criticism for her “complicity” in the behavior of her husband, there isn’t much you can say against Melania Trump. She’s a poised and stylish first lady, said to be warm and friendly in person.
Yet, picking on her has become a hobby for those who have run out of new ways to criticize the president. One of the media’s strangest targets is the first lady’s fashion.
Trump has impeccable style, from her chic hats to her signature stilettos. Whether she’s meeting dignitaries or hosting at the White House, she knows how to work both a chiffon dress and a power suit.
But, according to a fashion critic at the Washington Post, Trump doesn’t know how to wear a coat.
After Trump appeared in this year’s White House Christmas video in a stunning white dress and coat, critic Robin Givhan took the opportunity to complain that Trump’s choice of outwear made her look stand-offish and absurd.
“The coat looks ridiculous,” Givhan wrote. “But more than a silly fashion folly, the coat is a distraction. It’s a discomforting affectation taken to a ludicrous extreme. In a video that is intended to celebrate the warmth and welcoming spirit of the holiday season, that simple flourish exudes cold, dismissive aloofness.”
That’s a lot to determine from a coat. The color looks lovely on Trump, but unfortunately, it would be shocking if some random aspect of her Christmas video was not criticized.
Last year, the White House’s red Christmas trees were compared to The Shining and The Handmaid’s Tale. Psychology experts even told the Guardian that the trees were jarring to the psyche. Apparently, no speculation is off-limits when it comes to the Trump White House.
As for Trump’s appearance in this year’s video, one writer at Mother Jones piled on, “During the entire video, she displays virtually no enthusiasm for anything other than periodically straightening something that the lazy servants apparently didn’t get quite right.”
In case you’re having trouble tracking the anti-Trump logic, it goes something like this: The fact that Trump wore a coat means she’s a bad hostess, and her appearance in the video shows that she’s fed up with the plebes.
And people say the media isn’t biased.
Trump made her most viral fashion choice in June 2018, when newsrooms had a collective aneurysm after she wore a jacket that read, “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” Critics wailed as if Trump had directed the message at the migrant children she was en route to visit. Shortly afterward, Givhan wrote: “She didn’t aim her disdain with the precision of a sniper. She sprayed everything within range with scorn. How does a de facto diplomat recover from such rhetorical carnage?”
How will she? She won’t, apparently, as the media keep insisting to us that everything she wears has meaning, and that meaning is never good. For what it’s worth, a new unauthorized biography of Trump claims the jacket’s message was directed at Ivanka Trump.
All of this hand-wringing and outrage over Trump’s fashion choices is perhaps best illustrated by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. When asked about Trump this summer, Wintour refused to acknowledge her as the first lady. She repeatedly turned the conversation toward Michelle Obama, insisting, “And for me, she is the example I admire.”
Trump has not made it to the front cover of Vogue like other first ladies, and this editorial choice is clearly political, as Trump appeared on the cover in 2005, long before she became a political figure. When asked whether Vogue‘s recent exclusion of the first lady was intentional, Wintour all but admitted it was.
“There’s so many women in politics that deserve celebration,” Wintour said, naming Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. But Trump, thanks to her connection to her husband, will never be one of them.
This says nothing about her style, but it does say a lot about the media’s frenetic mission to discredit anything beautiful that happens to be connected to President Trump.