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This may be because the Trump campaign, which seems to prize women for their looks more than anything else, remembers Jackie Kennedy as being the hottest first lady.
It’s certainly true that Jackie and Melania are both beautiful. That said, it may be hard to view a woman who is perhaps best remembered for posing in a racy thong in knee high boots as someone who’d easily fit into the Jackie Kennedy style mold. But before you exclaim, "I know [about] Jackie Kennedy, and Melania Trump is no Jackie Kennedy" it’s worth examining a few traits they have in common — and ways they differ.
A Trump adviser told the New York Post: "Melania will be recast as the next Jackie O. She speaks four languages." Melania speaks English, Slovenian, German, and Serbian while Jackie Kennedy spoke English, French, Spanish, and Italian. While Jackie is often remembered for her fluency in French — when she visited the country JFK described himself simply as "the man who accompanied Jackie Kennedy to Paris" — she was equally proficient in Spanish. Lyndon Johnson even wanted to appoint Jackie Kennedy to be ambassador to Mexico.
Recently, a Trump pundit derided Tim Kaine for speaking Spanish, claiming, ""I didn’t have to get a translator for anything that was going on at the RNC this week, and I'm hoping I'm not going to have to start kind of brushing up on my Dora the Explorer to understand some of the speeches given this week." So, perhaps Melania will not be in contention for Mexican ambassador.
"She would be the most stylish First Lady we’ve ever had, beyond a shadow of a doubt — beyond Jackie Kennedy."
Both Melania and Jackie have had scandals involving them appearing unclothed. In 1972, pictures of Jackie Kennedy sunbathing naked were leaked and appeared in Hustler. When similar pictures of Kate Middleton were leaked, Trump claimed, "She has only herself to blame." That said, similar photos appeared of Melania unclothed from a time she posed in GQ.
However, when most people think of Jackie O they probably think of her clothed, rather than unclothed. She was known for setting style trends like wearing oversized sunglasses, pillbox hats, and scarves over her hair. As for Melania, "She would be the most stylish First Lady we’ve ever had, beyond a shadow of a doubt — beyond Jackie Kennedy," claimed the celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch (who works with the Trumps).
However, the greatest style trend Melania Trump seems to have set thus far is her habit of wearing her coats over her shoulders. That is great, it makes coats look like a cool cape, but it might be a bit unwieldy for anyone who is not about to speak inside at a podium.
However, it is interesting to note that Melania is often seen wearing a cloth coat in pale pinks or other neutral shades. Given Trump’s taste for luxury, you would expect her to wear a fur one, summer weather be damned. The choice of cloth coats seems to be in keeping with JFK’s 1963 advice to Jackie when he said, "There are going to be all these rich, Republican women at that lunch... wearing mink coats and diamond bracelets… Be simple — show these Texans what good taste really is." Now, okay, there are also pictures of Melania literally eating what appear to be diamonds but… well, they’re recasting her.
Honestly, the member of the Trump family that really seems to be following in the Kennedy style footsteps is Ivanka, with her line of low cost, traditional dresses, such as the one she wore at the RNC, which cost $138.
But the wives of politicians don’t necessarily break fashion barriers just by wearing unusual items of clothing or wearing them in unusual ways. Often, they have the ability to make the careers of designers, or lend those designers a legitimacy that might otherwise elude them. The choice of designer can also show a bit about the wearer’s values. For instance, Jackie chose Ann Lowe, an African American designer to fashion her wedding dress when she married Jack in 1953.
Now, Lowe never received nearly enough acclaim for her work — even Jackie Kennedy, when asked about who designed her dress by reporters, claimed that it had been made "by a colored seamstress." But on the upside, that did convey that there was nothing wrong with buying designs from African Americans, at a time when some Americans might have balked at the notion. The dress Lowe designed cost $500, or about $4,000 dollars today.
Melania married Donald Trump in a Christian Dior gown designed by John Galliano (who would later become infamous when he was videotaped shouting about how he hated Jewish people). It’s recorded as being one of the most expensive celebrity wedding gowns of all time, and cost approximately $125,000 dollars.
During the RNC Melania donned what appeared to be a different wedding dress. The white Margot dress by Roksanda was described by Net-a-Porter as "a beautiful option for the modern bride." That makes it a somewhat unusual choice for a speech. But, more interesting than that was the fact that it was designed by Roksanda, a Serbian designer based out of London. If they were truly trying to style her as a Jackie type, the campaign might have suggested she buy American.
Although this might seem silly now, before Kennedy’s campaign there was a great deal of worry that Jackie Kennedy favored French designers. France, at the time, was considered the place for great fashion, while the U.S…. eh, not so much. Jackie addressed that concern by having an American designer, Oleg Cassini, create the bulk of her dresses. Admittedly, those dresses sometimes looked very much like their French counterparts, but they were made in America. At the time, Cassini said, "We are on the threshold of a new American elegance thanks to Mrs. Kennedy." Given that Trump’s plan hinges upon making America great, having his wife dress in American designers, as Jackie did, wouldn’t be a terrible idea.
Jackie Kennedy wasn’t just a style icon because she dressed really well. She did, but she also used her wardrobe to convey her values, and values that she wanted to share with the American people. Her style was one used to usher the country into a new, post-war age. Cassini remarked that Jackie "created fashion because of who she was." We’re still yet to know enough about who Melania is and what she values to see if she’ll do the same. It will be interesting to see which designers she gravitates towards — though I’d place bets that one might be her daughter in law.