Opinion » The Rant

Runway FLOTUS

Don’t read too much into Melania’s fashion choices. She’s not like you.

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Melania didn't wear a headscarf in Saudi Arabia, but she did wear a mantilla in Rome. She's not Muslim but is apparently Catholic, so I get it. I also get it's a great time for my conservative friends to champion her subtle political digs via her wardrobe and my for my liberal friends to remind them that most first wives cover their heads when in Rome. Never having met the Pope in Rome, or anywhere else for that matter, I can't comment upon my millenary choices or lack thereof.  

Here's the thing: I don't care that Melania wore an outfit that cost as much as most people make a year. The truth is I didn't expect her to go to Rome wearing something from the Kohl's Super Saturday Sale. And if she did, we'd get pissed that she was appropriating normcore. You know who could get away with that? Queen Elizabeth. I could see Betsy roll up to a Commonwealth meet-and-greet with a Marks & Spencer tag poking out of her cardi. I've read the woman eats out of Tupperware, so I don't think it would surprise anyone if she spent her evenings carefully rinsing out her pantyhose and storing them in the fridge so they don't get runs.

POOL NEW | REUTERS.COM
  • POOL New | Reuters.com

I get I'm supposed be outraged she wore a jacket that, at a little over $51K, retails for just a few thousand less than the median U.S. income. I'm not. People voted for Trump specifically because he gold-plates everything — including his face. He's a Successful Businessman (or at least that's what his supporters keep crying), so his wife should be wearing expensive clothing that looks like the satin version of every macaroni artwork your kid ever made for you. In this way, she's at least authentic in a way she wouldn't be by showing up in Talbot's suit separates.

A few years ago, money was super-tight at my house. Like too-small-bike-shorts tight. All I wanted was to be able to go to the grocery without a list. Just go and get whatever struck my fancy. Now, let me note for the grocery-phobic who might be reading, this is different than forgetting a list and coming out half an hour later with a bottle of ketchup, some olive loaf, and peach yogurt because you just panicked. We've all been there. No, I wanted to get smoked oysters, if they caught my eye. I wanted to buy the name-brand dental floss. This is my small, middle-class version of success. If I want the Honeycrisp apples, I'm not getting Red Delicious.

The First Lady operates in a different orbit, and her clothes reflect that. We don't need to pretend that as a Trump she's ever worried about getting the mealy apples because, Sweet Gussie, what exactly is it that make Honeycrisp apples cost as much as steak? This is a woman who posed for a magazine spread with her child in a gold baby carriage. Do you think she is concerned that her fashion choices may be decried as tone-deaf? She wears a diamond the size of that baby's fist; she's not exactly Erma Perma Press.

Michelle might have been the woman we are, but Melania is supposed to be the woman we want to be. Don't kid yourself. She's not going to come into her own or take up causes. That's not her bag. She's not like us, okay? Who knows if she has important things to say about cap and trade? Maybe she has a detailed plan to eliminate the deficit in three years or a way to fund Planned Parenthood. We'll never know. She's not the issues wife. She's the $50,000-dress wife. The two things cannot exist on the same plane. Have we not learned that by now? Did you really expect that a lawyer for a First Lady and a Ph.D. for a Second Lady meant we'd banished the Madonna/Whore Complex from the White House? FOOLS! Just read the comments on Breitbart! On second thought, don't. Really. Trust me.

Don't feel sorry for Melania Trump. Quit trying to read political tea leaves from her wardrobe. She's not sending out secret messages via her fashion choices. She's not ever going to be the First Lady you can have a glass of wine with. She's the one you'll never be cool enough for.

Her decision not to wear a headscarf was not a middle finger aimed at the patriarchy. No, the middle finger was raised with all those wide belts. She's a middle-aged mom without the middle-aged mom waist. Her pointed-toe stilettos, razor-sharp shoulder pads, severe tailoring, and wide belts are all very Alexis Carrington. And I can't do Alexis Carrington again. I just can't. I'm hoping our next First Lady has more of a Mrs. Roper vibe.

Susan Wilson also writes for yeahandanotherthing.com and likethedew.com. She and her husband, Chuck, have lived here long enough to know that Midtown does not start at Highland.

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