Caitlin McBride: 'Why there's no point in trying to analyse Melania Trump's wardrobe'
Melania Trump made - as she tends to - one hell of an entrance as she joined husband, US president Donald Trump in his official bid for re-election.
On Tuesday night, the American first lady sashayed on stage with the ease only wealthy, former models seem to possess, in a dazzling yellow jumpsuit by Ralph Lauren.
She was in uncharacteristically good form, arriving hand-in-hand with her husband of 14 years and seemed genuinely happy as she took to the microphone to launch their campaign for four more years in the White House.
But - what about that jumpsuit?
The canary yellow was in stark contrast to the bright whites she wore in the latter half of Trump’s 2016 campaign, including the white jumpsuit by the same designer the wore on election night that looked more fitting for a quick jaunt to Mar-a-Lago than an impending inauguration.
For the early days of the Trump administration, popular theory took hold that she was a damsel in distress, locked in the gilded cage of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: body language experts and fashion analysts made careers for themselves over the scrutiny of her every move - and outfit.
Few could identify a pattern or crack the secret code she was clearly trying to tell critics that she was secretly one of them. Melania gave only a handful of interviews, but in each, she dug her heels in further in support of her husband (notably condemning his policy in holding children crossing the Mexican border in detention centres).
Slowly, but effectively, general consensus is that Melania is not Rapunzel trapped in a tower, but an indifferent public figure who values the security her husband’s wealth and status affords her and has no desire to supplement his work by doing anything of her own.
Melania is, for all intents and purposes, a clothes horse. She may have hung up her modelling shoes long ago, but the woman knows how to carry an outfit, a task made all the easier when each ensemble is tailor made for her figure and comes at eye-watering price tags.
In 2017, for a garden event at the White House, she wore a $1,000 Balmain shirt, she has more Hermès Birkin bags than you can count and the furore around her $51,000 Dolce & Gabbana jacket at the G7 summit still follows her.
Her most controversial look was undoubtedly the ‘I Don’t Care, Do You?’ jacket she wore to visit the aforementioned detained children in Texas; which she later said was aimed at the media and not the issue of the small children who had been separated from their parents.
On the Trumps’ recent trip to the UK, she wore a sleeveless white column Dior gown, styled her hair in a tight French twist and wore a pair of inexplicable white elbow length gloves for a state dinner at Buckingham Palace. Throughout the trip, she displayed a veritable parade of undeniably beautiful looks, but ones which held no message or meaning.
It was the same pattern over three days in Ireland: her looks are flawless, but there is nothing behind them. While former first ladies and royals the world over, spend most of their careers strategising and perfecting ways to send the message they want through their clothes, Melania simply wears what she wants because she wants.
After Trump beat pollsters by winning the 2016 election, the deep dive into Melania’s character began and turned up few results, other than two profiles in GQ and Vanity Fair.
Her preference for white was at first thought to be in support of the women’s suffrage movement and a subtle dig at her husband’s misogynistic speech.
After his ‘grab ‘em by the p***y’ tape leaked in 2016, she wore a pink Gucci pussybow blouse, which many speculated was a silent protest to the audio. But, as it turns out, there is no grand plan of expression through fashion and Melania simply likes wearing white and pussybow blouses.
While she continues to soften the Trump image of fire and brimstone, fashion journalists have taken a step back from their usual devoted analysis because much of it is a fruitless effort. Her influence and reach is undeniable, but the only message she's sending is that she'll continue to do - and wear - what she wants.
As for that jumpsuit?
Well, sometimes a jumpsuit is just a jumpsuit.