We wouldn’t want to be in the first lady’s shoes when she chooses her outfit in the morning. (And yes, that’s even though she has an extravagantly expensive designer wardrobe.) Whatever Melania Trump wears attracts a lot of attention — most recently a jacket bearing the message “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” We wouldn’t blame Trump for sending that message to her critics. But she made the mistake of wearing the jacket while traveling to visit migrant children at the Texas-Mexico border.
As Vox explains, Melania Trump arrived at Andrews Air Force base in Maryland wearing the offending outerwear. By the time her plane landed in McAllen, Texas, she had changed into a cream-colored jacket instead. But she again wore the offending Zara piece upon landing in Maryland on her return trip. Many criticized the choice as insensitive and tone-deaf given public outrage over Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy and family separation policy.
Traditionally, what the first lady wears matters. And as Vogue notes, people have historically used fashion to protest policies they didn’t like and to bring about change. Our suggestion to the first lady? Swap out that jacket from Zara — a fast fashion brand that has come under fire for its exploitative labor practices — for something a little more socially-conscious.
1. ‘I am an immigrant’ jacket from Wren + Glory
If Melania Trump wanted to use her outfit to stand in solidarity with the migrant families being split up at the U.S. border, she could have opted to wear this jacket from Wren + Glory reading, “I am an immigrant.” The slogan rings true not only because it alludes the immigrant experience that remains a vital part of the history of many — but not all — groups of Americans, but also because the first lady is, in fact, an immigrant born in the Yugoslav republic of Slovenia. 10% of the proceeds go to help separated families via RAICES.
2. ‘We are all immigrants’ sweater from Lingua Franca
Sometimes, you want something softer than a jacket to stay cozy on a chilly plane. If the first lady did want the ultimate in (statement-making) comfort, might we suggest a cashmere sweater from Lingua Franca? We particularly like this style, reading, “We are all immigrants.” And if she wanted to get under Donald Trump’s skin, she could even opt for the label’s sweater reading, “I miss Barack.”
3. ‘The Future Is Female’ sweatshirt from Otherwild
On second thought, cashmere seems a little impractical for a trip to a detention center. If that’s a concern — good thinking, Mrs. Trump — Melania could have opted for a cotton sweatshirt instead. Our favorite? The iconic sweatshirt from Otherwild reading “The Future Is Female,” a slogan which Fast Company reports first appeared in 1975. The New York Times explains, “The original ‘The Future Is Female’ T-shirt design was made for Labyris Books, the first women’s bookstore in New York City. The photographer Liza Cowan took a picture of Alix Dobkin, her girlfriend at the time, wearing it in 1975.” In 2015, that photo was posted on h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y and spotted by Otherwild’s Rachel Berks.
4. ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ tee by Dior
If none of the options above are expensive enough, we have an even higher-end option, too. (After all, that Zara jacket represented one of the few fast fashion pieces that Melania Trump has appeared in as America’s first lady.) It’s not technically a piece of outerwear, but Dior’s “We Should All Be Feminists” tee — available on Tradesy — would certainly have made a statement. As High Snobiety notes, the slogan tee borrows the title of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s seminal essay, “which was catapulted to worldwide fame when Beyoncé sampled its accompanying speech in her hit ‘Flawless.'”
5. ‘Choose love’ anorak from Rachel Roy
Aesthetics are clearly important to Melania Trump. So if it was the military style of her Zara jacket that the first lady liked, we have a much better alternative. She could have worn this anorak from Rachel Roy, which bears the simple message, “Choose love.” The jacket is part of a limited-edition to benefit EveryTown and Time’s Up, a nonprofit that advocates for gun control and the movement against sexual harassment, respectively.
6. Recycled polyester windbreaker by Katherine Hamnett
And if she really wanted to make her statement subtle — a tact she might take in the future — Melania could have opted for this windbreaker from Katherine Hamnett. Vogue characterizes Hamnett as “the original anti-war eco-warrior designer-campaigner,” noting that Hamnett forged the movement toward bold T-shirt graphics as a way of making a statement with a simple tee.
Melania Trump’s spokesperson Stephanie Grisham addressed the jacket. “It’s a jacket,” she reportedly said, according to Vox. “There was no hidden message. After today’s important visit to Texas, I hope this isn’t what the media is going to choose to focus on.” But many agreed that the jacket was no mistake. As CNN reported, “There simply aren’t coincidences like this in politics.” Maybe Melania and her staff will be more vigilant about the messages her clothes send in the future.
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