Throughout the election campaign, whenever President-elect Donald Trump’s wife made a public appearance — and there were just a few times — the future first lady made headlines. Generally not for what she said (she made just three speeches in the run-up to Nov. 8), but for the subtle messages her clothing supposedly sent.
Take, for example, the $2,190 dress designed by Roksanda Ilinčić that she bought for herself (on Net-a-Porter.com) for the Republican National Convention in July. The “Margot” dress sold out shortly after Melania took the stage to deliver her controversial speech, with many praising her appearance. Yet beyond the accolades from critics, there were also those that found symbolism in the sartorial selection.
First, it was created by a United Kingdom-based designer who also happens to be from Serbia, which was previously a part of Yugoslavia, which happened formerly to include Melania’s native Slovenia.
— Vanessa Friedman (@VVFriedman) July 19, 2016
In addition to seeing Melania’s choice of designer as an intentional nod to her homeland, many speculated that the color white was intended to evoke purity, a sense that would be especially important to Melania, considering that she’s often portrayed in the media as nothing more than an armpiece and bikini model.
Yet the RNC dress was just the start of the fun new spectator sport enjoyed by the masses on the Internet of reading into Melania’s fashion choices and finding meaning behind them.
The most notable of Melania’s ensembles had to be the hot-pink pussy-bow blouse from Gucci with matching flare pants that she wore to the second presidential debate, in October.
The top, which retails for $1,100, set off a social media firestorm, with users on Twitter, Facebook, and more platforms hypothesizing that Melania was, in fact, a Hillary Clinton supporter.
— Jay Newton-Small (@JNSmall) October 10, 2016
More evidence for this? The future FLOTUS wore the pussy-bow style, which gets its name from the similar ties around the necks of kittens and cats, just days after the leak of an Access Hollywood tape that featured Donald saying, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything.”
The fashion speculation persisted until Election Day, when Melania voted, presumably for her husband, in a white sheath that some thought could mean she was actually #WithHer (many across the nation adopted the color throughout the campaign to honor feminists and suffragettes), and it carried into election night, when she slipped into a slinky white one-shoulder jumpsuit from Ralph Lauren (Clinton’s designer of choice). The guessing has continued after Melania’s husband’s win.
When the president-elect and his wife went to the White House to meet with its current residents, Melania opted for a simple black dress with a matching coat. “Melania looks like she is going to a funeral,” one Twitter user wrote. “Melania Trump wearing all black to the White House because she’s low key mourning America too,” another added.
Melania wore all black to the White House. Like she was attending a funeral. She really does speak with her clothing.
— Ethan O (@EthanObama) November 12, 2016
Of course, even though many have perceived Melania’s fashion decisions to be so much more calculated and complicated than a woman shopping online for a big event or picking her favorite piece out of her closest for an important meeting, she could’ve been doing just that. Wearing what she likes when she wants, without any cryptic connotation at all.
The only remaining question: What will Melania be wearing to the inauguration?