Melania Trump brings sultry elegance to the White House

"We’ve heard from many readers about this column, the original headline that topped it, our prominent positioning of the story online and its publication during the same weekend as the Women's March. The column was an assessment of Melania Trump’s clothing choices during the inaugural ceremonies – not her role as first lady -- as fashion journalism is the art of describing what people wear, why they wear it, and what message their choices communicate. Ms. Wellington has for the last eight years reported on Michelle Obama’s fashion choices as well. But we understand that many readers feel our handling of this subject missed the mark. We can do better."
- Tom McNamara, 
Inquirer Deputy Managing Editor, Features

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First lady Melania Trump stepped into the Liberty Ball on Friday night in a vanilla, off-the-shoulder crepe sheath she helped create with designer Hervé Pierre.

That slit crept all the way up her thigh. And the formfitting gown by Pierre, a creative director for 14 years with Caroline Herrera, featured a ruffle that swirled along the bodice with a silk faille ribbon at the waist.

Subdued yet sultry, if not a little underwhelming.

First daughters Ivanka Trump in Carolina Herrera and Tiffany Trump in Los Angeles designer Simin Couture glided across the stage: Ivanka's was a glittery and golden gown with long sleeves and an illusion lace top, while Tiffany's was pink, metallic, and strapless.

Like first ladies before her, particularly the indisputably fashionable Jacqueline Kennedy and Michelle Obama, who also both donned alluring white gowns (by American designers Oleg Cassini and Jason Wu respectively), Trump's selection cemented the day's momentous inaugural events.

But unlike any first lady before her, Trump kicked off her first ladyship fully embracing her sexy. She and President Trump slow-danced to Frank Sinatra's classic version of "My Way" (he in yet another ill-fitting suit; please, somebody help him), and she looking like a beauty queen dancing - albeit awkwardly - with her king.

Melania Trump, 46, a Slovene American once a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model, fashionably nailed each and every one of her public appearances since her arrival Thursday afternoon to Washington on a private jet. From her wardrobe, it seemed she was part of her husband's campaign promise to bring glamour and elegance back to the White House - although many would argue it's been there for the last eight years.

The first lady's wardrobe this weekend was formfitting, sure, but also could be considered slinky. Still, it was elegant.

What we also can call the outfits among Trump's first outings as first lady: winners.

The sky blue Ralph Lauren suit she wore to the inauguration Friday sent a clear message of femininity and power. It was a high-necked sheath and matching bolero that in both color and cut brought to mind the ensemble Kennedy wore to her husband's 1961 inauguration.

Trump's double-faced cashmere, cropped jacket and dress featured high necks, too, which could have been an attempt to communicate demureness. Her shoes even appeared to be dyed to match.

But those shoes were four-inch Manolo Blahnik stilettos, giving this body-skimming look a sumptuous, if not sultry, vibe.

Ralph Lauren, likely America's most beloved designer, has also managed to excel this election season. Lauren was Hillary Clinton's go-to designer during the campaign season, and she wore a suit from the Ralph Lauren Collection at Friday's inaugural festivities.

The 77-year-old king of American heritage built his entire fashion empire by defining quintessential American style - although the bulk of his clothing is made outside the United States.

Trump arrived in Washington on Thursday wearing a double-breasted black military coat by independent Manhattan-based designer Norisol Ferrari that she wore at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

And Thursday night, Trump chose a body-skimming gold metallic gown by American designer Reem Acra.

ewellington@phillynews.com

215-854-2704@ewellingtonphl