On January 20, we waved goodbye to arguably the greatest fashion legacy the White House has ever seen—Michelle Obama. In her eight years, she has endorsed homegrown brands and created a wave of bold power dressing that’s a far cry from the conservative looks of her predecessors. She isn’t called the First Lady of Fashion for nothing.
So it’s only natural to wonder what Melania Trump will bring to the table. Ever since since designer Sophie Theallet made a defiant plea to fellow designers to “not participate in dressing or associating in any way with the next first lady,” Melania’s wardrobe has been a contentious topic. Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford and Phillip Lim all spoke out in solidarity with Theallet, declaring that they will not dress the former model, while Tommy Hilfiger, Carolina Herrera and Vera Wang haven’t ruled it out. Today, WWD reports that both Ralph Lauren—who designed all three of Hillary Clinton’s debate pantsuits—and Karl Lagerfeld are believed to be dressing Melania for the inauguration’s daytime and evening events this weekend.
Going forward, will Melania take inspiration from Michelle, à la speechgate? (HA.) Or will she create her own wave of White House style? If her past looks are any indication, here’s what we’re in for.
White on white
The Slovenia-born model loves to contrast her rich bronzer with crisp white pieces—be it a sleeveless bodycon dress or a legit gown. For her first-ever speech on Donald’s campaign trail last April, she wore a fitted white dress with kimono sleeves. At her next appearance in May, she opted for a white sleevless dress with button details at the waist and in July she wore an ivory Roksanda with dramatic bell sleeves (below) to deliver her highly-anticipated speech at the Republican National Convention. From there onwards, she has been spotted in five other white outfits at significant events, including both her election day and night outfits.
The statement jumpsuit
As the Trumps took to the stage to celebrate Donald’s victory on Election Night, Melania posed in a one-shoulder Grecian jumpsuit by Ralph Lauren. She also dressed in a black belted Ralph Lauren jumpsuit for the final presidential debate in Las Vegas in October. In other instances, Melania has created the jumpsuit-effect with a fitted top tucked into a matching pair of high-waisted, wide-legged pants as seen as at the CNBC Republican Presidential Debate in 2015, and at the second presidential debate in 2016 where she paired a fuchsia pussy-bow blouse (another popular look we will discuss momentarily) with matching cigarette pants. The jumpsuit is also a favourite for formal attire, as seen below at a New York gala in 2014.
The kitsch bow
Google “pussy bow” and pictures of Melania in a $1,100, fuchsia Gucci blouse at the second presidential debate pop up. (Melania was criticized for not noticing the irony of wearing a pussy bow a mere two days after the now infamous Access Hollywood tape emerged.) But Melania was a fan of the bow well before “grab her by the pussy” trended. Last New Year’s Eve, she wore a black Dolce & Gabbana dress with bow details on each shoulder; her aforementioned Ralph Lauren jumpsuit at the final presidential debate had two long ribbons at the neck which she chose to keep untied. In 2013, she wore a pussy-bowed black jumpsuit to the Celebrity Apprentice finale. And in 2008 she was seen in a Gucci cocktail dress, a black satin dress and a ruched gown at red carpet events—all with bow details.
The skater skirt
From 2011 to 2015, Melania continuously opted for silhouettes that were fitted on top and A-line on the bottom (as seen at the 2011 Tower Heist premiere, below). We can’t guarantee she’ll bring back the skater dress in her new role, but we’re not ruling it out just yet. She was last spotted wearing the look at the Celebrity Apprentice finale in 2015.
Slashes and slits
While Melania isn’t a fan of prints (in fact, we couldn’t find a single picture of her in a patterned outfit), she does favour edgy slits and cuts for night. Akin to the slitted dress she wore in 2012 (below), she dressed in an ivory Mugler gown at the Time 100 Gala last April, which boasted a cut-out slash at the top and a thigh-skimming slit at the bottom. At the Republican Presidential Debate in New Hampshire last February, she wore a long-sleeved black dress with subtle triangular mesh inserts at the shoulders and hips—similar to the black cocktail dress she wore at an NFL event in 2012. Even the lace sleeves on her gown at last year’s Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner in New York resembled slits. Perhaps it’s Melania’s subtle way of defying conventional White House attire.
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