Melania Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention preached a return to unity, a commitment to finding a Covid-19 vaccine, and a surprising acknowledgement that this country’s history is far from perfect. But while Melania spoke of peace, her outfit notably painted a different picture, as the New York Times‘ fashion critic points out. Clothed in an army-green, military-style Alexander McQueen dress with a matching jacket, Melania looked every inch the wartime FLOTUS as she delivered her speech from the newly redone Rose Garden. And Twitter didn’t take long to dissect what exactly that might mean. With comparisons ranging from Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale to Nazi Germany, the theme of this theory is clear. In wearing decidedly military attire, Melania is sending a secret message about the type of future she and President Donald Trump envision — one in which the military may play a much larger role.
Before diving in to what the First Lady was wearing, let’s be clear that we don’t condone the general practice of picking apart women’s fashion at every public appearance for possible missteps — nor is that what the discourse around Melania’s attire seems to be. To many on Twitter, Melania’s uniform-adjacent outfit was too loud a statement to ignore for its political implications, not its style.
“As a rule, political commentators shouldn’t comment on what women in the public arena are wearing,” David Rothkopf noted. “Exception: If they’d also have made a similar comment regarding what a guy was wearing. If Trump showed up in faux-military garb like Melania did last night, we’d all be freaking.”
As a rule, political commentators shouldn't comment on what women in the public arena are wearing. Exception: If they'd also have made a similar comment regarding what a guy was wearing. If Trump showed up in faux-military garb like Melania did last night, we'd all be freaking.
— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) August 26, 2020
Some believe Melania is hinting at a fascist future for the United States: “Half the speakers are Trumps. Melania is in a military-type uniform,” Joshua Potash writes. “Do. Not. Normalize. Fascism.”
Half the speakers are Trump’s. Melania is in a military-type uniform. The Hatch Act doesn’t exist.
Do. Not. Normalize. Fascism.
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) August 26, 2020
What frightens me most about this picture is that Melania's outfit looks way too fucking similar to a military uniform.#TrumpIsAFascist
P.S., Trump, who claims to honor the American flag, routinely displays them wrinkled at the White House. pic.twitter.com/DFUUyV8Kak
— Dr. Jack Brown (@DrGJackBrown) August 26, 2020
Echoing concerns that Melania is hinting at a dictator-run future, other tweets made comparisons to Fidel Castro, Nazi uniforms, and the clothing worn by Aunts in The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s prescient vision of a theocratic future US.
Is it just me, or does Melania Trump look like Mrs. Fidel Castro in that olive uniform? #RNC2020
— Grant Stern (@grantstern) August 26, 2020
Why is Melania wearing a Brownshirt dress? Add a Trump armband & we’re there. pic.twitter.com/wJea6MLQFc
— DarkShadowMaster4Biden (@The_DebG) August 26, 2020
— Richard H (@RichardNYrealty) August 26, 2020
Melania’s fashion has gone viral before, when she donned an army-green coat reading “I don’t really care, do u” back in 2018. Then, the message was clear. But now, despite having heard more from Melania last night than ever before, we’re finding ourselves wishing the First Lady could have communicated a tiny bit more.
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Click here to see Melania’s quotes about Donald Trump, from their marriage to the presidential race.