Melania Trump’s address to the spouses of world leaders of the United Nations on Wednesday resulted in an unexpected strain of backlash.
While the first lady addressed issues of bullying, much of the discussion following the speech was about Trump’s dress: a $2,950 bright-pink Delpozo, with voluminous sleeves that billowed out behind the podium.
Trump covered serious issues that need to be addressed. For the speech to be derailed by discussion of the dress reveals a crucial misstep by the first lady.
What I learned today from Melania Trump: Never dress like a bright pink hot air balloon.
— Enough (@ehartman1975) September 20, 2017
The dress Melania Trump wore during her anti-bullying speech was puffy because it was stuffed with irony. pic.twitter.com/S9rwlJlva8
— The Incredible Sulk (@TurnUp_TheTweet) September 20, 2017
Just watched Melania Trump speech.
— Elaine (@rosalita2740) September 20, 2017
“First lady Melania Trump became a victim of cyberbullies after she donned a hot pink, oversized dress to a United Nations luncheon Wednesday, where she gave a speech about the dangers of bullying,” Fox News reported.
While we don't condone any cyberbullying of the first lady, we noticed something peculiar about the dress.
From a purely stylistic perspective, this looked like a rare misstep for the typically fashionable first lady. While critics may find fault with the cost of her clothing, Trump usually looks quite sharp. Avowedly "apolitical" fashion Instagram accounts chart her looks, and conservative-leaning media outlets regularly celebrate her style.
However, behind the podium on Wednesday, Trump looked as though she had been enveloped by a hot-air balloon. On overly bright monitors, it appeared as if her dress were half of a wide oval. It looks "oversized" - and is even described as such in an article defending the first lady.
If you zoom out, it's a different story. Photos of Trump entering the UN luncheon show her in a well-fitted dress balanced stylishly by billowing sleeves. It's clear the dress isn't oversized.
The problem with the outfit is that it is incredibly ill-suited for speaking behind a podium.
Trump is typically measured and strategic in her fashion choices. This slip-up says more about her lack of public-speaking experience than her fashion knowledge. She knows how to dress - she just didn't fully think about how things would look through the lenses of cameras focused on the podium.
It's a mistake reminiscent of various "scandals" surrounding Michelle Obama. More than once, there were controversies about Obama's fashion choices - like her wearing shorts on Air Force One, or $500 sneakers - that distracted from issues the first lady would have preferred to discuss.
However, one area where Obama never struggled was in public speaking. In fact, Trump once copied parts of a speech by Obama.
Trump's misinformed fashion choice isn't a problem. But it does reveal something about the first lady: a lack of public-speaking experience, which would serve her well to develop.