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Melania Trump’s election night style: clueless or calculated?

Melania Trump wears a Ralph Lauren jumpsuit to her husband's acceptance speech in New York City in the early morning hours of Nov. 9, 2016.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Are Melania Trump’s wardrobe choices completely clueless or cunningly calculated? Based on the white Ralph Lauren jumpsuit she picked for her husband’s victory rally in New York City in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, we’re starting to think it’s the latter.

Multiple sources have identified the outfit as an Italian-made, ruffled, one-shoulder jumpsuit with an asymmetrical ruffled overlay (called the Margerie, it’s available online at Saks Fifth Avenue for $3,990). And, although it’s not technically a pantsuit, it’s certainly close enough in silhouette to bring Hillary Clinton’s go-to look to mind. Throw in the fact that it’s white – the color that many women chose to wear on election day as a symbol of women’s suffrage – and the symbolism is all the more powerful.

Is this sheer coincidence? Possibly. But after a day that saw social media filled with hashtags like #pantsuitnation, #pantsuitstothepolls and #WearWhitetoVote, it’s hard to imagine that the former model from Slovenia had absolutely no idea that her wardrobe choice would be seen as referencing (or, if you’re feeling less charitable, co-opting) the sartorial symbolism of the day. Underscoring it even more is the fact that the jumpsuit is from Ralph Lauren, the same label that the Democratic nominee had chosen (also in white) for her high-profile acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in July.

But this is also the same woman who chose to wear a fuchsia silk crepe de chine blouse with a pussy bow at the neck to the second presidential debate on Oct. 9, just days after a tape surfaced in which her husband could be heard using the p-word in a decidedly more anatomical context. At the time, that wardrobe choice came across as sheer coincidence (after all, the pussy bow – which apparently takes its name from the kind of cute silk bow one would knot at the neck of a pet kitten – isn’t something bandied about in general conversation). But, after seeing Melania Trump take to the stage in that white jumpsuit, we’re not so sure.

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It’ll take time – and many more Melania sightings – before the full picture emerges. So stay tuned.

For more musings on all things fashion and style, follow me @ARTschorn.

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