A blazer worn by Jill Biden at the G7 summit in Britain is making headlines today, as many juxtapose the First Lady’s embellished jacket with one of her predecessor's more questionable fashion choices.
The back of Biden’s ‘love’ blazer immediately drew comparisions with the Zara parka that Melania Trump wore in 2018, which read "I Really Don't Care, Do U?" on the back.
Trump donned the controversial jacket while visiting migrant children at the Mexican and US border, leading to backlash on social media with many claiming the message reflected her husband’s migration policies.
Jill Biden wears jacket with word “LOVE” on back as the Bidens + Johnsons meet - immediately invoking comparisons with Melania Trump’s controversial jacket with the words “I really don’t care” in 2018 #G7 pic.twitter.com/UurTDS6NN9— Suzanne Lynch (@suzannelynch1) June 10, 2021
The White House stated that “there was no hidden message” in the outfit choice soon after the incident.
For Jill Biden, however, the message coming from her embellished jacket today was loud and clear.
"We're bringing love from America,” she told reporters in Cornwall. "We're trying to bring unity across the globe.”
The nearly €400 Zadig & Voltaire jacket has already sold out online in black, with a white version sure to be snapped up soon.
This isn’t the first time Biden has influenced shoppers with her fashion choices, and it certainly won’t be the last time we see this White House administration using fashion to mark important moments.
The first to come to mind is Kamala Harris’ colour choice for her election night speech. The vice president walked on stage beaming in a white Carolina Herrera suit — a nod to the suffragettes, who wore white as their signature uniform.
Other politicians who made a statement on the world stage in white outfits include Shirley Chislom, when she was elected as the first black woman to the US congress; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on her first day as a congresswoman; and Hillary Clinton when she was officially announced as the first female presidential candidate for a major political party in 2016.
While we certainly acknowledge that female politicians and stateswomen are so much more than the clothes they wear, research shows that media coverage focusing on a woman’s appearance impacts her likability to the public, as Melania Trump no doubt found out in 2018.
Many use the spotlight for good — such as our own esteemed first lady Sabina Higgins, who is known for utilising her position to promote Irish designers through her outfit choices. Similarly, Meghan Markle often wears clothing from black designers while out in public.
Others make more purposeful statements through their fashion choices. The pussy-bow blouse was originally popularised in the political sphere by Margaret Thatcher, who was an avid wearer of the design originally created for the first womens’ uniforms. The element is known as the women’s tie, a symbol of power.
In 2017, the Dáil committee on procedure had to meet to discuss the possibility of introducing a dress code for Leinster House after a number of TDs wore Repeal jumpers to the chamber in the lead up to the 2018 referendum.
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern wore a black headdress in the wake of a 2019 terrorist attack in her nation to show respect for those affected by the attack and in 2018, wore a Maori cloak to Buckingham Palace. Here at home, the Healy-Raes are rarely seen without their instantly recognisable paddy caps, a symbol of their heritage.
While we haven't seen any prominent trend in Biden's outfits so far, it's safe to say that the first lady is well aware that her clothing matters — and is using it to spread a positive message thus far.