Passing the presidential fashion baton
Barack and Michelle Obama welcome Donald and Melania Trump to the White House
There was no high drama at the first face-off between the Obamas and the Trumps.
After 18 brutal months of campaigning and 36 hours after landing a stunning come from behind Election Day victory, Donald Trump and his wife Melania met with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on Thursday to tour the digs at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Though President-elect Trump had a collegial 90-minute, closed-door conversation with Obama, his bitter political rival, in the Oval Office, the two families broke with tradition and declined to appear together in front of the White House. Melania Trump, who was clad in a black sleeveless shift dress, double-breasted black coat and black Christian Louboutin stilettos, had tea in the Yellow Oval Room with Michelle Obama and Jill Biden while their husbands met in the Oval Office.
There were no awkward hugs, frozen smiles or barely-there cheek busses between the two women. The one official photo released by the White House shows Melania Trump and Michelle Obama appearing cordial and (somewhat) relaxed as they sit side by side with their legs crossed. Michelle Obama is wearing a blue three-quarter sleeved dress with a bold orange vertical stripe down the front.
Considering all of the bad blood, it feels petty to hope for a fashion standoff between the two fashionable women. But birther nonsense, plagiarized convention speeches and nuclear code smackdowns aside, how the Twitter tongues would have wagged if Michelle Obama and Melania Trump had come out with guns and highlights blazing and gone full-on “Glamazon Wars: First Lady Edition.”
Except for her much-discussed speech during the Republican National Convention in July, Melania Trump has mainly stayed out of the public eye. But her fashion choices during the latter part of the campaign — especially her pussy bow blouse worn during the second presidential debate — were standouts.
Michelle Obama has not appeared in public since she attended a rally for presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia on Monday (the president and first lady both voted by absentee ballot). But the soon-to-be first lady Melania Trump wore a camel Balmain top coat and ivory Michael Kors dress on Tuesday to vote. Clinton also wore a camel-colored pantsuit to cast her vote. Apparently, camel is now the official neutral color political ladies can get behind.
Meanwhile, former first lady Clinton won praise earlier this week for her inspired sartorial choices, many of which were loaded with historical, political and cultural meaning.
Standing tall and sharp in a gray custom Ralph Lauren pantsuit, Clinton gave an impassioned concession speech before a teary audience on Wednesday. The suit jacket’s silk lapels and blouse were a vibrant shade of royal purple, which is a blending of red and blue, the colors of the Republican and Democratic parties. It was a striking symbol of bipartisanship, and a subtle call for both parties to come together after such a divisive and destructive campaign season.
A lasting part of Clinton’s cultural legacy may have a meaningful tie to fashion. Her masterful use of colorful, tailored pantsuits — many of which were designed by Ralph Lauren — became a trademark and was her go-to power uniform during the 18-month presidential campaign, as well as her busy years as secretary of state and senator. Many of the suits that garnered the best reviews and social media mentions were red, white or blue.
Clinton’s penchant for wearing white pantsuits at critical moments — at the Democratic National Convention when she accepted the nomination, during the final presidential debate and on Election Day — was an homage to the color worn by American suffragettes. She gave a lively shout-out during her gracious concession speech to the 3.1 million members of the Pantsuit Nation, the private Facebook group that has pledged to continue advocating for the rights of women, immigrants and other minorities during Trump’s presidential term.