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Fashion Psychologist Weighs In On First Lady Styles, Comparing Melania Trump To Michelle Obama

When a woman is thrust into the role of first lady, one thing that's going to come under the microscope time and time again is their personal style. Laura Bush was known for her conservative style and subdued wardrobe, such as tailored suits and muted colors. This was very similar to the style of her predecessor Hillary Clinton, who was the first 'working First Lady' in the white house. First ladies like Nancy Regan and Jackie Kennedy were known for their high-end fashions that set trends. Rosalynn Carter and Barbara Bush always seemed to choose clothes that were simple and understated.

Michelle Obama and Melania Trump are, style-wise, quite possibly two of the most exciting first ladies in history. Melania is a former high-fashion model who has been dressed by some of the biggest names in the business. Michelle always related as a working mother of two with great taste and a willingness to take fashion risks.

Some fashion experts have weighed in recently on Melania and Michelle, comparing some of their looks side-by-side. It's amazing what their choice of clothing says about the way they tackle their role as first lady.

On Donald Trump's Inauguration Day, Melania donned a Ralph Lauren powder blue suit, channeling Jackie Kennedy as if she were trying to show the world she planned to play her role well, or at least to look the part.

“Blue is a color of loyalty and trust,” said Dr. Dong Shen, professor of Fashion Merchandising and Design at California State University, Sacramento.

Michelle wore an outfit by Cuban-American designer Isabel Toledo. She paired her lemongrass dress and coat with J. Crew gloves. The ensemble immediately showed that Michelle was going to have a unique style, but one that was nonetheless relatable to the average American woman.

This theme was carried over by both women in their first Independence Day celebrations in the White House. Michelle attended a patriotic picnic wearing a Band of Outsider's blue and white flowing dress.

"It’s such an easy, breezy look for what was most likely a muggy day in Washington, D.C. It’s also classic and polished without being too fussy. It’s something that women across the country could picture putting on for their own picnic or party," said Aire Plichta Reese, a Pittsburg-based personal stylist and fashion marketing expert, to the Post-Gazette in a comparison.

Melania wore a high-end dress by designer Esteban Cortazar that ran about $1,500, which, for a 4th of July picnic on the White House lawn, was beautiful but a bit out of touch. "I know for a fact that she could have found a similar style for a 10th of the price and in a more approachable fabric and less formal overall look," said Reese.
Melania Trump, though always stunning and polished, seems to be using her designer choices to send a message. Many fashion designers banded together and vowed not to dress the first lady when her husband was elected, and Melania seems to be wanting to prove that she doesn't need them.

Dawnn Karen, a New York City-based fashion psychologist, told the Post-Gazette that Melania's message seems to be, "I am part of the elite, and I can afford this."

"People use their clothing to show their status, but in certain settings it's not really called for. When you’re wearing all of these labels, you’re hiding something," said Karen.

Michelle never had that kind of challenge to overcome, but she, too, uses fashion to send a message. She likes to show herself as down-to-earth, casual and approachable.

"Mrs. Obama does wear designers, but it doesn’t seem to be ostentatious. It comes across more as, 'I’m wearing this, and I’m supporting this designer,'" said Karen. "She's not really relying on the messages the brand denotes. She’s relying on her inner confidence and style."

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Photo: Yahoo Screenshot, YouTube

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