A Look On the Lighter Side: A report from the front lines…of fashion

I was prepared to write a piece this week praising Melania Trump.

Against a background of abject misery being caused at the Mexican border by her husband, the President, Melania Trump was the only member of that entire family — or entire administration, for that matter — who had the guts to actually go there and see what’s going on for herself.

By way of comparison, take Cabinet Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Her Department of Homeland Security plays a very big role in what’s going on right now, but the closest she’s come to the border is a Mexican restaurant in the safe space of Washington, D.C. – two whole blocks from the White House.

I still salute our First Lady. I think what she did took courage and heart.

But when she turned to get on that plane, revealing the back of her jacket with the message, “I really don’t care, do U?” — well, I didn’t know what to think.

I don’t see how anybody, let alone Mrs. Trump, can do anything but care about a situation that challenges our humanity as a nation, and her husband’s legitimacy as a leader. More to the immediate point — if she didn’t care, why was she getting on that plane?

It made no sense.

Maybe Ivanka lent her step-mom the jacket? Or perhaps Kirstjen Nielsen? Because that’s one lady who certainly does not seem to care.

Still, you always want to check yourself in a full-length mirror.

As fashion icon Coco Chanel could have said, “Before you leave the (White) House, look in the mirror and take one thing off. Like that jacket, darling.”

Of course, who checks the back of a coat?

The only full-length mirror in my house has so many boxes in front of it, I can’t really get to it, anyway. And yet, I have never appeared in public in a jacket which features, scrawled across the back, a message invalidating whatever I am wearing the jacket to do.

For example, you will never see me mowing the lawn in a coat that says, “I let my yard go to hell.”

You will not see me at the supermarket in a jacket that says, “Let ‘em eat cake. Better yet, moldy muffins.”

You will not see me walking in a shirt that says, “I’d rather be home sipping latte.” Well, you might see that, if I can find one.

But I’m not First Lady of the land, with a million eyes and cameras focused on me.

Also, the First Lady has an entire staff to help her. And one of the magical things they do, I have learned, is compile a “wardrobe memo” for every occasion, listing every event, terrain and weather she might encounter.

I was instantly jealous! I never wanted to be First Lady, but I am lost in contemplation of all the “Great Wardrobe Moments” that such a thing could have spared me.

For example, I would have known better than to wear new stiletto heels to a garden party. Although not quite Melania-caliber, still those heels were exactly proportioned to sink into the mud between flagstones — in just such a way that the leather got scraped clean off both sides of each heel.

I would have known better than to go to my cousin’s wedding in a gauzy top whose long sleeves caught on the back corners of every single chair, facing me with the alternative perils of either ripping my outfit or pulling over chair after chair.

And I might not have concluded that event with almost catching fire, when my sleeve narrowly missed the votive candles at the reception.

I certainly could have used a staff, and assistance, when I went shopping for an evening dress one time when my boys were little. Both were awake in the stroller as we wheeled through “Better Dresses,” so I didn’t want to completely disrobe in the dressing room. That’s why the saleswoman found me with an evening gown over my jeans, holding the top up to the mirror as best I could while still wearing a long-sleeved turtleneck.

“Well?” I breezily asked her. “What do you think?”

I watched the woman’s eyes get wider and wider, as she opened her mouth and said… nothing. I could almost see the thought bubble over her head: “I am not going to say what I’m thinking.”

What a pity Melania’s jacket showed no such discretion.

About the author

Judy Epstein

Share this Article