WASHINGTON — Melania Trump went to Texas to show she cared about migrant children. Her fashion choice carried a baffling counter-message.
The first lady wore a green, hooded military jacket from the fast-fashion brand Zara that read "I really don't care, do u?" both as she departed and returned to Washington. The words were printed in white, in graffiti-style, on the jacket's back.
When asked what message the first lady intended to send, spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said: "It's a jacket. There was no hidden message. After today's important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn't going to choose to focus on her wardrobe. "
Grisham underscored that message in a tweet with the hashtags #SheCares and #ItsJustAJacket.
But President Donald Trump offered his own interpretation, tweeting that it "refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!"
Mrs. Trump changed into a pale yellow jacket before the plane landed in McAllen, Texas, for a visit to the Upbring New Hope Children's Center, which houses 55 migrant children. But even after questions arose about her attire, Mrs. Trump was back in the green jacket when she returned to Washington in 80-degree weather. She has shown that she won't bow to public pressure or expectations about how she should comport herself as first lady.
Like it or not, Mrs. Trump's jacket, which reportedly retailed at $39, had her trending on Twitter. One outraged user borrowed an image of the back of the jacket to promote groups working on behalf of immigrant children.
Zara, a Spain-based company with a large presence in the United States and around the world, had no comment. The jacket belongs to the Zara's spring-summer 2016 season and is no longer for sale by the company, though a few of the jackets popped up online for resale at a moderate profit for sellers.
The youthful jacket sharply contrasts with the first lady's typically bold, foreign-flavored and higher-priced wardrobe. In public appearances, the first lady has worn designs by Dolce & Gabbana (remember her $51,500 D&G jacket at the G-7 summit in Italy?), Del Pozo, Christian Dior, Emilio Pucci, Givenchy and Valentino, often with daringly high Christian Louboutin heels.
It's not the first time the first lady's fashion choices have caused a stir.
Last August, a pair of Mrs. Trump's signature spike heels earned her a round of bafflement as she boarded Air Force One bound for Texas to tour devastation after Hurricane Harvey. She had changed into white sneakers by the time she and the president landed.
At the second 2016 presidential debate, Mrs. Trump showed up in a fuchsia silk blouse with a large bow at the neck, long known as a "pussy bow blouse." That was just days after reports surfaced that her husband had made lewd remarks years earlier about grabbing women by the genitals.
On the other side of the political aisle, former first lady Michelle Obama routinely caught grief from some critics for going sleeveless. Her husband, President Barack Obama, was the talk of a 24-hour news cycle when he donned a tan suit in 2014 for a media briefing.