Over the years, Melania Trump honed her style savvy early on the runway as a model and as Donald Trump’s companion at red carpets.
But in her role as first lady, the 46-year-old has made a few missteps, some fashion industry observers shared on Friday during CNN’s documentary special “Melania Trump: The Making of a First Lady.”
“You see her undergoing a crash course in first lady 101,” NewYorkTimes.com fashion director Vanessa Friedman said on the program. One of Melania’s most high-profile fashion fumbles was on Feb. 5 when she stepped out for a Super Bowl party wearing a semi-sheer light blue Derek Lam sweater that she teamed with white trousers and matching Christian Louboutin pumps.
“The Derek Lam sweater when photographed was slightly sheer — that’s a little racy for a first lady and probably wasn’t intentional,” Friedman explained.
While the widely seen photo was a boost for the American designer’s brand, Melania’s penchant for European labels presents a conflict with President Trump’s message of supporting American businesses.
When she and the president jetted to Florida for their first weekend away since Inauguration Day, the timing would’ve been an ideal opportunity to wear an American design, Friedman added.
“The red dress … they hadn’t thought through what it might say wearing Givenchy, which is a French brand, in her first public appearance after her husband stood on the steps of the Capitol and said my first rule is buy American,” she said.
However, Melania did manage to make a different kind of style statement: She’s fond of flats, too. The model is a fan of Christian Louboutin’s soaring So Kate pumps, but for the jaunt to their Mar-a-Lago private club, she teamed the Givenchy shift dress with pointed-toe Christian Louboutin flats. The Solasofia style in red suede retails for $595.
The mother to Barron, one of President Trump’s five children, has worn American designers such as Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren in the past. In fact, on Inauguration Day she was clad in a powder blue Ralph Lauren suit with matching gloves and pumps.
“It was a knockout, but I couldn’t walk down Pennsylvania Avenue in those stilettos, however,” said Kati Marton, author of “Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History.”
Some of Melania’s other sleek moments that were a hit among the program’s commentators included her Dolce & Gabbana New Year’s Eve black cocktail dress, the white Inaugural Ball Hervé Pierre dress that she helped design and some looks on the campaign trail. The dress included a bright pink pussy bow Gucci blouse and a white Fendi hand-embroidered dress with mink and crystal detail that she reportedly bought herself on Net-a-Porter.
Overall, Melania’s style reflects her individuality, and observers aren’t expecting fashion statements that are relatable to the everyday woman.
“The kinds of brands she wears are labels of achievement and aspiration — the kind you wear when you want to show that you’ve arrived,” Friedman said. “I don’t think the promise of the Trump administration is about being every woman.”
First lady historian Carl Sferrazza Anthony said Melania’s unconventional approach to fashion is a sign of strength and independence. “Melania Trump is, to my imagination, emerging as rather a Mona Lisa of first ladies,” Anthony said. “Because it is by her appearance and her posture that she seems to signal a strong impression; it’s a centered quality. It’s an independent quality.”
Click here to see more of Melania’s fashion statements featured in the documentary.
Watch the CNN documentary special below: