Melania Trump echoed Hillary Clinton's white pantsuit on Election Night

On election night, Melania Trump sported a white Ralph Lauren pantsuit that brought to mind Hillary Clinton's sufragette style from the campaign trail. (Photo: Evan Vucci, AP)

Melania Trump took the stage with her husband as he was announced as the winner of the 2016 presidential election in a flowing jumpsuit.

If those who stayed up late enough to catch the speech felt the look was similar to ones they've seen several times this campaign season, they wouldn't be wrong.

White pants made headlines when Hillary Clinton wore them on the stage at the Democratic National Convention to accept the nomination as the Democratic candidate, a look that paid homage to the suffragist movement. Clinton, of course, paired them with a matching jacket in her signature pantsuit look. She repeated the look during the presidential debates, in suits almost exclusively from designer Ralph Lauren, who was shaping up to be her courtier-in-chief, of sorts.

Hillary Clinton wore white as she accepted the Democratic nomination in July. (Photo: SUCHAT PEDERSON/THE NEWS JOURNAL)

The white pant ensemble Melania wore on stage is also by Ralph Lauren, from his Fall 2016 collection. 

It's hard not to interpret it as a blatant riff from a woman who has also been accused of plagiarizing Michelle Obama.

Out of the vast world of clothing the new first lady could have chosen to make her debut on stage, why would she have chosen a designer so closely linked to the Clinton campaign, in a color and style that Clinton has essentially owned for the last several months? What does this say about Melania as public servant and the Trump administration?

She's been a woman of few words on the campaign trail — giving one of only a handful of speeches last week to announce her intended platforms if she were to become first lady, the first major speech she's given since the plagiarizing accusations.

Onlookers have had little to go on when it comes to deciphering what type of first lady she would be, making her clothing choices all the more telling. And what her wardrobe has said in this campaign cycle is she may be as ready to turn up her nose at custom as her husband.

She wore a camel coat by Balmain, capped carefully over her shoulders in the fashion-editor favorite shoulder-robbing technique, while casting her vote Tuesday at Public School 59 in New York. Though the coat features a classic color and silhouette, the designer speaks to the Trump brand of bucking tradition.

She has the shoulder-drape down. (Photo: MANDEL NGAN, AFP/Getty Images)

Balmain is an old French house, founded in 1945 and currently headed by creative director Olivier Rousteing. He's a friend of the Kardashians and Kanye West. A fixture on glitzy social circuits. A fan of Instagram selfies that highlight his improbably sculpted cheekbones. Of metallics, sheer netting, super short hemlines, plunging necklines, bra tops and bodycon.

Rousteing and Balmain are, in a word, gaudy.

It's a term that's been rarely applied to past presidential candidates and their spouses, but has been used to describe Trump's style, his flashy Brioni suits in particular.

Though Melania wore a more traditional Michael Kors Collection sheath dress underneath that Balmain coat, and sported a black Ralph Lauren jumpsuit to the last debate, she favors high-end European labels like Fendi and Gucci, the maker of that now-infamous pussy-bow blouse. And insider-y brands like Roksanda Ilincic, Mugler and Emilia Wickstead.

Her spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times that she purchased the garments herself, the dress from Kors’ upper Madison Avenue boutique and the Balmain coat via Net-a-Porter, which makes sense. Unlike Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, who have a roster of designers at their disposal and deep relationships with Madison Avenue, none have come out in support of Trump or claimed a part in dressing his wife. Michael Kors all but endorsed Hillary at his runway show in September. Ralph Lauren has endorsed and frequently dressed Clinton on the campaign trail. And even Rousteing Instagrammed a photo of a young Clinton on Tuesday, captioning it #imwithher and #ibelieveinAmericA.

Which begs a specific version of a question that the Trump administration will face: As first lady, will Melania try to win over the American fashion industry and become its chief diplomat, a role that Michelle Obama and other recent first ladies have played?

Or will she continue to order from Net-a-Porter, and drawing blatant inspiration from other powerful women?

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