First lady Melania Trump took a trip to the US-Mexico border on Thursday to tour an immigrant children’s shelter, but her trip is getting attention not only for her action, but also for her wardrobe choice before and after the journey.
As the first lady boarded her plane from Andrews Air Force Base, she wore an olive green jacket. The back of the jacket read: “I really don’t care. Do u?” in white graffiti-style lettering. Trump was not wearing the jacket when she landed in McAllen, Texas. She re-donned the jacket and wore it when she deplaned back at Andrews Air Force Base despite the media storm that had erupted over her initial wearing.
The $39 jacket is last season Zara.
The Daily Mail first reported the jacket, which was spotted by the press traveling with the first lady but impossible to read without a long-range camera lens.
The first lady’s team insisted that there was no hidden meaning behind the sartorial choice.
“It’s a jacket. There was no hidden message. After today’s important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn’t going to choose to focus on her wardrobe,” East Wing communications director Stephanie Grisham told CNN in a statement.
Later, President Donald Trump said the jacket’s message was a shot at the media.
“‘I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?’ written on the back of Melania’s jacket, refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!” he tweeted.
But a Republican close to the White House sent along a note to say that this explanation of the coat is “revisionist history.”
This Republican, who is supportive of Trump, but skeptical of some of what they consider to be the administration’s ham-handedness, says there was an urgent meeting among communications staff about how to fix this after it was becoming a story.
It’s unclear who, exactly, first had the idea to say her coat’s message was directed at the media. But it quickly won approval in the West Wing and by the President.
This Republican is citing conversations with people in West Wing who “were proud of themselves” for coming up with the explanation. It is true that they knew the media would overplay it, so that’s why they devised it.
Fashion as a leading role
But Trump’s fashion has often played a leading role during her tenure as first lady.
The notoriously private former model is intentional about her wardrobe choices: the instantly-iconic white hat for the French state visit, her white suit at the State of the Union speech and the pussy bow blouse she donned after the “Access Hollywood” tape surfaced all sent a clear message.
When she travels abroad, she’s careful to choose outfits that conspicuously reflect the country she is visiting, including a belted jumpsuit in Saudi Arabia, her colorful dresses in France and Italy, and her nod to an Asian influence in Japan, China and South Korea.
CNN’s Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report.