This is so obvious, and I’m not complaining at all.
From Jackie Kennedy’s pearls to Michelle Obama’s arm-bearing garb, nearly every first lady in the United States has a signature style moment. But let’s be honest — some moments are more famous, and others are more, well, infamous. Thankfully, America’s current first lady has landed herself in the former category: Jill Biden’s “LOVE” jacket carries on a tradition of FLOTUS fashion, and it also carries a very non-secret message.
On June 9, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill made their first overseas trip to meet with world leaders in Europe. On the second day of the trip, while meeting with the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the first lady wore an outfit with some pretty obvious not-even-sub text. Atop her polka dot dress, the first lady wore a jacket with a single word printed on the back: “LOVE.” While the current FLOTUS hasn’t ever shied away from sending a literal message with her clothes — remember those “VOTE” boots during the 2020 election? — this one was particularly pleasant, given that the United States is celebrating Pride Month.
FLOTUS style has traditionally carried political messaging of some sort, whether subtle or overt. When meeting foreign dignitaries, for example, first ladies will often serve up a little soft diplomacy by wearing a designer that represents their host country. Or, in times of economic crisis, a FLOTUS may make a point of wearing more affordable, less luxe brands, as Michelle Obama did in J. Crew following the 2008 financial crisis. Sometimes, the history of political fashion will leave people reading meaning into things, like when Melania Trump’s “pussy bow” collar at a 2016 campaign event was seen as a possible dig at her husband, then-candidate Donald Trump.
Biden, at least, seems to have intended the message, and was pretty open about it. “I think that we’re bringing love from America,” she told reporters traveling with the president, per The New York Times. “This is a global conference, and we are trying to bring unity across the globe. And I think it’s needed right now, that people feel a sense of unity from all the countries and feel a sense of hope after this year of the pandemic,” she added.
But the placement of the words also raised eyebrows for comparisons to her predecessor, Trump, who was famously criticized for a divisive jacket message of her own. On June 21, 2018, former first lady, Melania Trump, wore a jacket with the words “I really don’t care, do u?” painted on the back to go visit children separated from their parents at the southwestern United States border. The controversial visit came in the midst of President Trump’s widely-criticized zero tolerance policy, in which undocumented immigrant children were forcibly separated from their parents and guardians so the adults could be indefinitely detained. Although Trump’s representative later said the jacket was meant as a jab at journalists and “fake news” outlets, the then-first lady faced a barrage of criticism for her fashion choices.
Now, people all over the internet are comparing the stark difference in messaging between Biden and Trump’s fashion choices.
So, did Biden have Trump’s fashion faux pas in mind when she picked out her wardrobe that day? While America can only speculate at this point, it’s clear that “Love” is the winning message.