The Oscars may be over, but that doesn’t mean the American public can’t still appreciate a red carpet moment, even if it happens in the House Chamber. Like a Hollywood A-lister, Melania Trump was welcomed with a standing ovation at last night’s joint session of Congress, although her outfit of choice drew mixed reviews.
Clad in a black sequined skirt suit cinched with a thick leather belt, the Michael Kors-designed look retails for roughly $10,000. It was neither its price tag, nor the plunging neckline and thigh-high slit that drew derision from critics, however. Rather, it was the fact that the overall look wasn’t deemed occasion-appropriate by some.
Twitter users drew parallels with the outfits worn in 1980s soap opera Dynasty. While others thought she looked altogether too festive for a presidential address.
Michelle wore bare arms&got hell for years.Melania shows up in sequins like she's going to the club &gets standing ovation. #JointAddress
— Kelly Macías, Ph.D. (@kelmacias) March 1, 2017
Melania Trump enters like Alexis Carrington. This must be the Dynasty reboot. Paging Joan Collins. #JointAddress
— Jim Shi (@jimshi809) March 1, 2017
Melania is dressed like Joan Collins in Dynasty. #JointSession
— Joanna Meier (@JoannaMeier) March 1, 2017
It looks like Melania was unchained tonight for the address and she seems to think it's NYE.
— Amanda Hiner (@MandaJLark) March 1, 2017
#Jointsession generally speaking Melania looks polished. Nice suit, wrong event. It's inappropriate for this function. She looks lovely tho.
— Erica (@happysquirel75) March 1, 2017
First daughter Ivanka Trump didn’t escape criticism, either. Dressed in a considerably less expensive dress ($2,995) by French designer Roland Mouret, many thought the off-the-shoulder frock was more suited to cocktails than Congress.
On the designer’s website, the dress is described as “an easy choice for that evening affair when you think you have ‘nothing to wear'” and “the ‘It’ dress for nighttime soirees.”
Whether or not detractors had read the description of the dress is unknown, but the overarching impression was that she looked like she was going to a social function, not a professional event.
— Christina Parodi (@ChristinaParodi) March 1, 2017
@IvankaTrump Show respect for the institutions of our democracy.Your dress is fine for cocktails but not for a joint session of Congress.
— VICKI SALT (@VSALTZ) March 1, 2017
@IvankaTrump this is not a party that dress is not appropriate
— Tx_wife (@Tx_wife) March 1, 2017
While Ivanka is not held to the same standards as Melania, the FLOTUS has been sustaining Michelle Obama’s legacy of supporting American designers. On inauguration day, she wore a pale blue suit designed by Ralph Lauren, and she donned a sleek white dress by Calvin Klein to meet Akie Abe, wife of the Japanese prime minister. She has also worn outfits by lesser known designers like Alice Roi and Norisol Ferrari.
Melania’s look on Tuesday night also seemed to take a cue from Obama — the former first lady was known for cinching her cardigans, jackets and coats with wide leather belts.
Naturally, Melania’s fashion choice received glowing reviews from supporters, many of whom praised her poise and inherent beauty.
— ɳαɳ૮ყ ن (@LVNancy) March 1, 2017
Your outfit was beautiful. People are rude. Ignore the negatively, be yourself. Rise above the jealous idiots.
— Jo Ann Sutton (@JoAnnSu78664206) March 1, 2017
— Honky Tonk Jew (@HonkyTonkJew) March 1, 2017
— Deplorable😡Rāzərbak (@MediaJuggernaut) March 1, 2017
— The Swamp (@sbougon) March 1, 2017
Although many once widely espoused fashion rules have been dismissed in more modern times (wearing white after Labour Day and matching your shoes to your handbag, for example), the style community is still on the fence about when and where to wear sparkle.
In 2009, Obama’s “lemongrass” yellow coat and shift dress with crystal-embellished neckline that she wore on inauguration day drew mixed reviews.
“Some people have said it was a little flashy for the daytime,” TV stylist Robert Verdi said to The Telegraph. “It was a little five o’clock-in-the afternoon and a little less 11 am in the morning.