Statement piece?

Deconstructing Melania Trump’s wardrobe for president’s State of the Union address

First lady Melania Trump at the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump delivered the first State of the Union address of his presidency Tuesday night and all eyes were on first lady Melania Trump, who made her first public appearance since a report emerged earlier this month claiming Trump paid off a porn star to keep quiet about a purported affair in 2006.

The first lady, who was “blindsided” by the report, according to The New York Times, has not been seen in public with her husband since, and traveled from the White House to the Capitol building, a short drive, in a separate vehicle from the one that carried her husband there. It was a break from tradition to be sure, but the White House explained that she rode separately from the president so she could accompany the guests she was hosting for the speech.

First lady Melania Trump arrives for the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on January 30, 2018. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

When Melania arrived in the Capitol’s chamber and received a standing ovation, her wardrobe drew immediate attention and quickly sparked speculation. The first lady wore a cream Christian Dior and a white silk Dolce & Gabbana, CNN reported. What was the meaning behind it? Different people decoded the first lady’s ensemble in different ways.

In a post on Twitter, New York Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman promptly observed that “Melania Trump is wearing a suffragist white pants suit.”

Others pointed out that the color white has been linked to the #MeToo movement. Just two nights earlier, women wore white roses at the Grammy Awards in a show of #MeToo solidarity. Some even pointed out, as Business Insider noted, that Melania’s outfit was strikingly similar to the white pants suit Hillary Clinton wore to the Democratic National Convention in 2016 to accept her party’s presidential nomination.

But was Melania making a subtle statement to her husband with the wardrobe choice? Or was she making a statement to House Democrats?

Dozens of Democratic women in the House of Representatives took part in the “SOTU blackout,” wearing all black along with Time’s Up pins in solidarity with women who have suffered sexual assault and harassment, including the more than a dozen women who have accused the president of sexual misconduct. Some observers suggested Melania’s white pants suit could’ve been intended as a challenge to that coordinated effort.

And, as The Hollywood Reporter notes, this is not the first time Melania has sported a white pants suit on a big night. At her husband’s victory speech on election night, she wore a $4,000 white Ralph Lauren jumpsuit.

Even though the East Wing denied reports of marital strife inside the White House, and Stormy Daniels, the adult film star at the center of the affair reports, issued another denial Tuesday saying an affair with Trump “never happened” — which she then cast doubt on in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel — people seemed to return to the idea that tensions in the marriage influenced Melania’s wardrobe and body language at the State of the Union.

One Twitter user astutely pointed out that, when President Trump delivered the line, “In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy are the the center of Democracy,” a remark that drew a standing ovation from many in the chamber, Melania applauded, but declined to stand.

Below, watch the full video of Trump’s State of the Union address and to read the complete text of the speech, click here.


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