Since her husband has been in office, Melania Trump has been the subject of intense media coverage when it comes to her clothes. After all, the fashion choices made by first ladies of the United States often garner a huge amount of attention — from Michelle Obama’s choice to go sleeveless for her official White House portrait to Nancy Reagan’s signature red color, which marked one of the most impactful first lady moments in history, the public appearances of the first lady not only capture the public’s curiosity, but serve as a reflection of the first lady herself.
Many have assumed that Melania Trump has used her outfit to send messages to the public, while others have noted her fashion background and fashionable dress sense. Others still have seen her clothing choices as reflections of her values, not only as an individual, but as first lady.
Trump has worn some stunning ensembles, some outfits that would break the average person’s bank account, and some that are almost too wild to believe. We combed through Trump’s public appearances, her speeches, her brisk walks to Marine One, and her life in the White House to track down the following. Ever wonder what outfits have pushed the envelope? Or what fashion options Trump should’ve thought twice on? Wonder no more — here are the most inappropriate outfits worn by Melania Trump.
Melania Trump did not take this country's cultural expectations into consideration while visiting
It’s not a secret that many first ladies alter their dress codes while traveling abroad, and Melania Trump has been no exception. Trump has gone to great lengths in the past to adhere to dress expectations, and garnered a lot of attention when she wore all black and a veil while visiting Pope Francis, as is Vatican protocol (via Time). But shortly before her time at the Vatican, Trump did not adhere to Saudi Arabia’s cultural dress code and came under quite a lot of flack for it.
As noted by The New York Times, Trump wore a shirtdress, bearing a V-neckline and a mid-length skirt, while visiting the American International School in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Why was her shirtdress, of all clothing options, inappropriate? Well, as noted by Allure, women in Saudi Arabia (whether from the country or visiting) “are expected to wear loose black robes called abayas, and they also traditionally cover their hair and faces with veils called niqabs.”
Even if a female visitor does not adhere to covering their head, the cultural expectation of the country is for women to dress on the conservative side, which Trump’s shirtdress did not accomplish.
This jacket Melania Trump wore caused quite a stir due to the price
Talk about a price tag that makes our eyes pop out of our heads. When arriving at the Chierici Palace in Sicily during the G7 Summit in 2017, Melania Trump shocked the world with her jacket of choice — a floral embroidered look from designer Dolce & Gabbana. The actual jacket itself looked beautiful and the ensemble was very sleek, so what was inappropriate about it? The cost.
As noted by The New York Times, the jacket set the first lady back $51,500. Yes, you read that correctly. The jacket, called the “3-D Flower,” wasn’t even available in stores when Trump wore it to the summit, but as reported by the New York Post, it had already sold out on retail site Moda Operandi. If you wanted to snag the jacket while it was available, you had to put down a cool $25,750 deposit — don’t mind us while we hyperventilate.
Trump finished the look with a column dress, heels, and a $1,630 purse. Just to put the price in perspective, the average high school teacher’s yearly salary in the United States is $60,320. Cool.
First Lady Melania Trump's outfit in Africa was not a cute moment
Melania Trump has caught some flak for a number of her appearances, but few were as controversial as her outfit choices while on a trip to Africa. Trump stopped in Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and Egypt, and although she was traveling with the United States Agency for International Development, it was her colonial-indicative style that caught attention.
As noted by Vogue, Trump opted for “cream suit, white button-up, black tie, and matching fedora hat — seemed similarly drawn from Out of Africa,” while visiting Egypt. While on a safari tour in Kenya, she wore a white pith helmet, making for one of the most inappropriate outfits worn by presidential family members, and she was either completely unaware of the look’s historical implications, or seemingly didn’t see her choices as a big deal.
The pith helmet gained popularity after author John Murray published his book Handbook for Travellers in India, Burma and Ceylon in 1902. He concluded that European travelers needed to wear pith helmets to keep the harsh sun away from their alabaster skin, and as noted by The Washington Post, his conclusions were (and still are) based in “racist pseudoscience.” It’s safe to say that her looks were not warmly welcomed.
The jacket seen 'round the world had everyone up in arms
It was the jacket seen around the world, and the outfit choice that landed Melania Trump in some hot water. While traveling to McAllen, Texas in June 2018 to visit people impacted by President Donald Trump’s family separation policy, the first lady opted for an army green jacket from fast-fashion make Zara that had “I really don’t care. Do U?” written on the back in big white letters. As noted by CNN, the look caused an uproar very quickly and forced Melania Trump to backpedal.
The backlash got so intense that her spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham, jumped onto the scene to clarify the first lady’s choice. “It’s a jacket,” Grisham said. “There was no hidden message.” She then took to Twitter to reaffirm that the jacket had no hidden meaning. “Today’s visit w the children in Texas impacted @FLOTUS greatly,” she tweeted. “If media would spend their time & energy on her actions & efforts to help kids — rather than speculate & focus on her wardrobe — we could get so much accomplished on behalf of children. #SheCares #ItsJustAJacket.”
Hidden message or not, it was probably not the most appropriate choice on Trump’s part.
Melania Trump's blouse at this 2016 event set off Twitter
Clothes are a great way to signal support for a designer, a country, or even a message, and social media was quick to jump to conclusions when Melania Trump appeared in this blouse during a 2016 debate between her husband and Hillary Clinton. As noted by Vanity Fair, Trump chose a bright pink pussy-bow blouse from Gucci — yes, that is the actual name of the bow neckline detail. What was so inappropriate about it? Well, the astronomical price tag of $1,100 didn’t help, but social media users pointed to the correlation between Trump’s choice and the words her husband used to describe his sexual advance tactics.
Earlier in the week, the Access Hollywood tape was released that captured Donald Trump bragging about “grabbing” women inappropriately. “When you’re a star, they let you do it,” he was caught on tape saying. So when his wife attended the debate in her outfit of choice, social media users jumped at the chance to draw parallels.
Did Trump choose the top just because she liked it? Or was she using it to make a silent statement about the audio tape? We’ll never know, but it was a bold option nevertheless.
The first lady chose this $1,000 button-down while gardening
First ladies are known for choosing important social causes to champion — Melania Trump’s predecessor, Michelle Obama, focused on providing healthy meals to children and established the White House’s vegetable garden. In perhaps a show of political friendship, Trump kept the garden operating after Obama’s time as first lady came to an end, but after a photo op in September 2017, Trump came under some serious fire for her inappropriate gardening outfit.
As noted by CNN, the first lady hosted a group of 10 kids from D.C.’s Boys and Girls Club of America for a harvesting event, but it was her outfit that received attention. Trump opted for a Balmain plaid shirt that cost over $1,000 and paired it with a pair of Converse sneakers that were out-of-the-box clean (via Business Insider).
The internet was quick to point out the out-of-touch outfit option. “When your H-1B visa application says your special skill is ‘r̶i̶c̶h̶ ̶m̶e̶n̶ gardening’ but you hate dirt,” one Twitter user mused. One thing is clear: Stick to your grubby shorts and overused sneakers while playing in the dirt.
Stilettos and an outfit worth thousands was maybe not the best choice for a tree-planting ceremony
We might start a GoFundMe for Melania Trump’s “I have to stand on grass and dirt” outfit options because she again picked a pretty inappropriate look for a garden White House event. As noted by The Guardian, Trump was seen planting an Eisenhower-era oak tree sapling, but again, it was her outfit that stole the show (and not for the right reasons).
Instead of opting for flats to avoid sinking into the ground and a pair of jeans she wouldn’t mind getting dirty, Trump wore a $4,000 floral skirt from Valentino and finished the look with a pair of four-inch Christian Louboutin stiletto heels (that easily cost her $745). The whole outfit felt out of touch, especially when Trump lifted her gold-tipped ceremonial shovel. Gardening expert Alys Fowler told The Guardian that Trump was most likely given the squeaky clean shovel to accommodate her footwear option.
After posing for the photo op and sprinkling some dirt, Trump left. “Even the Queen stays until the tree is watered in,” Fowler said. Chances are we won’t see the first lady personally tending to the sapling.
Suitable footwear was out of the question when she visited the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey
Melania Trump is a fan of stilettos, but, like most things, the expensive pumps have a time and a place. But that doesn’t seem to be a sentiment that Trump shares because she opted for a pair of high, pencil-thin heels while traveling to the areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. As noted by Vanity Fair, the first lady is most often seen in heels, but her footwear choice while visiting a region that had gotten 30 inches of rain was not an appropriate option.
She paired the footwear with an outfit that, honestly, would’ve fit the bill if she had been wearing a pair of sturdy boots — Trump wore a pair of pants, a khaki windbreaker, and, of course, an umbrella and boarded Air Force One.
The first lady must have gotten the memo that her shoes were not a celebrated look because she changed while on her way into a pair of far more sensible shoes and a baseball cap (that had FLOTUS printed on it, we should add). All in all, do yourself a favor and wear rain boots or your favorite pair of Timberlands when going to areas decimated by hurricanes.
Some compared this outfit Melania Trump chose to military looks often worn by dictators
All eyes were on the Trumps during the 2020 Republican National Convention, and although the night gave us one of the most awkward Melania Trump moments, it also gave us another inappropriate outfit.
As noted by GQ, Trump opted for an army green colored military jacket that featured an edgy, dynamic silhouette and a matching pencil skirt. The look was from designer Alexander McQueen’s Resort 2020 collection, and the jacket alone set the first lady back $2,450. But the large price tag wasn’t the aspect of the look that was deemed inappropriate, it was Trump’s choice to wear a design indicative of the military looks often rocked by dictators. Yes, you read that correctly.
As noted by The Cut, the designer outfit would have not been a big deal if anyone else had worn it, but Trump’s choice to wear such a look while standing at a podium situated in front of a line of American flags was an optic that didn’t look great. “Because she chose to wear this look to a convention with a particularly loud ‘fascist timbre,'” The Cut reported, “it’s hard not to read the look as dictator cosplay.”
While speaking about childhood hunger, Melania Trump wore this expensive outfit
Well, this outfit did not serve the first lady well. While speaking to the United Nations’ General Assembly about cyberbullying, Melania Trump brought up the topic of children’s hunger across the world. “No child should ever feel hungry, stalked, frightened, terrorized, bullied, isolated, or afraid, with nowhere to turn,” she said, as noted by Glamour. “We must teach each child the values of empathy and communication that are at the core of the kindness, mindfulness, integrity, and leadership which can only be taught by example.”
Sound advice, but people were quick to point out the first lady’s hypocrisy. For the event, Trump chose a $2,950 fuchsia pink dress from designer Delpozo — so while speaking about childhood hunger, the outfit made her look completely out of touch. As such, Twitter took notice.
“Melania Trump and her pink parachute need to take a hike. What a fraud,” one Twitter user commented. “Melania Trump, wearing a pink Delpozo designer dress worth thousands, says, ‘No child should ever feel hungry…’ #hypocrisy,” wrote another. Definitely not her best look.
Melania Trump set the internet on fire when she wore this ensemble
One of the aspects of her husband’s presidency that has worked against Melania Trump’s style has been his “America first” approach — that has limited the first lady in the designer labels she has worn, and that sentiment was on full display during the French president’s visit to the White House.
As noted by Glamour, Trump opted for an Hervé Pierre skirt suit in a bold, crisp white and topped off the look with an internet-breaking white hat. From the moment that pictures of the head-turning look made it to Twitter and to critics, public opinion was divided down the middle. The Washington Post reported that the outfit option, given that Pierre was a “freshly minted American citizen,” was a display of “diplomatic symbolism.” But the Boston Herald rejected the look, saying that it “[evoked] Europe roots, not America First” (via Glamour).
No matter the political sentiments associated with the ensemble, Twitter pointed out more light-hearted comparisons. “Why is she out here looking Carmen San Diego playing @Beyonce in the Formation video?” one Twitter user wrote. Others pointed to a similarity between Trump and Jude Law’s character from The Young Pope. Lesson from all of this? Keep your headwear simple.
Who knew that leather leggings would cause such a stir?
We wouldn’t be surprised if every woman has a story about leggings — maybe they ripped during a workout, or you wore them out only to then discover that they were see-through. Legging mistakes happen, and this is something that Melania Trump knows all too well.
As noted by Vanity Fair, the first lady’s choice of leather leggings caused such a stir, not because of the slim fit or the silhouette or (god forbid) them being see-through, but because the leggings were so close to her skin color that it looked like she wasn’t wearing pants at all. At first glance, it appeared as though Trump was walking hand in hand with her husband wearing just a green mini-dress — a bold option considering that it was December at the time. But at a closer look, commentators realized that she was wearing a pair of tan leather leggings — the illusion, however, fooled a lot of people on the internet.
“@FLOTUS returns to Washington at night wearing sunglasses and a mini-skirt. WTH?” one Twitter user wrote. “That is a MINI, mini-skirt,” wrote another. See the look for yourself, you do really have to look closely.
This critic went off on Melania Trump over this inappropriate coat
Melania Trump is responsible for the White House Christmas decorations, and her outfit during the 2019 unveiling did not please this critic. Robin Givhan, critic at-large for The Washington Post, shared her thoughts on Trump’s inappropriate look and pointed to a sense of disconnect between Trump and the public.
“For her tour, Mrs. Trump wears all white: a dress with a simple jewel neckline, white stiletto-heeled pumps and a white coat. The coat is draped over her shoulders as she strolls through the White House,” Givhan wrote. “The coat looks ridiculous.” Givhan continued, “But more than a silly fashion folly, the coat is a distraction. It’s a discomforting affectation taken to a ludicrous extreme. In a video that is intended to celebrate the warmth and welcoming spirit of the holiday season, that simple flourish exudes cold, dismissive aloofness.”
Givhan was onto something, because it was revealed in October 2020 that Trump had choice words about being responsible for the White House’s Christmas look. “I’m working … my a** off on the Christmas stuff, that you know, who gives a f*** about the Christmas stuff and decorations?” Trump said, as noted by CNN. “But I need to do it, right?” Yikes.
The first lady's official portrait came with a lot of heat for this controversial choice
Melania Trump’s fashion choices caused a stir from the beginning of her time as first lady, and her outfit option for her official White House portrait was not hailed as an appropriate one. As noted by Glamour, Trump opted for a sharp, well-fitted black blazer and soft makeup. But what captured the negative attention was her choice to wear her $3 million 25-carat diamond ring. Yes, we’ll give you a moment to try to wrap your brain around that figure.
Donald Trump gifted the ring to his wife for their 10th anniversary, and it was the price that put critics in a bind. Many said that it was inappropriate for the first lady to wear such a ring that could pay for programs that the president planned on cutting in his proposed federal budget — like Meals on Wheels and other social programs. But Trump wasn’t the only first lady to be criticized for her White House portrait. Michelle Obama came under serious fire for opting for a sleeveless dress while posing for her photo — so it looks like perhaps no first lady is going to please everyone.
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