You might think that any US First Lady’s fashion would matter only in the age of social media, but no. For time immemorial, there’s a whole team that works on the outfits of US First Ladies visiting any country in the world. The styling has to be proper. And with Melania Trump visiting India for the first time, a wardrobe like her’s is bound to grab attention. She is bold and her fashion choices have made headlines in the past.
Ahead of Melania Trump’s first visit to India, here’s a look at what US First Ladies wore on their first trips to India.
Jacqueline Kennedy visited India in 1962 and she was the first US First Lady to visit India ever. Everyone had her eyes on her not only because she was the first one to do so but because she did this right after Queen Elizabeth’s 1961 visit.
Jacqueline was quite the style icon already. On her first visit to India, she showed up in pastel pinafore, her hand carefully hid under opera gloves. If there’s anything that marks her style statement in addition to those gloves, it’s her pearls.
She didn’t just show up in a lot of silk for meetings with dignitaries but also reportedly used a silk scarf and a silk pillow to maintain her hair.
Thelma Catherine “Pat” Ryan Nixon
A brief trip - just a day to be precise - she flew in when Richard Nixon was meeting Indira Gandhi in 1969. Her general conservative style in place, she chose a pink outfit with what experts define as her favourite length of skirts.
It must be noted that the length of her skirt was at times talked about more than the US. They called it a ‘mini skirt’, which by the late 70s became more mainstream.
Rosalynn Carter accompanied President Jimmy Carter in 1978. Most fashion experts say that she usually wore a lot of greens and aquas. However, for her first photo op in India, she surprised everyone by choosing a white formal attire. Her style rarely diverged from high necks, long skirts and sleeves that covered her arms.
Her ‘Hillary Headband’ was the topic of discussion even before her husband was elected as the president. Hillary Clinton visited India in 1995 for the first time. Her, what we would describe now as a ‘hot pink’, fuschia blouse and skirt were quite the talk of the town.
Whether it was her choice of pink or the black suit when she visited India in 1997 for Mother Teresa’s funeral, Clinton truly spoke the language of the new generation politics through her fashion.
After Nixon’s brief visit of 23 hours, the Bush couple’s visit to India is the shortest ever by a First Couple. Laura and George Bush visited India in 2006 for just about three days, 60 hours to be precise. Generally seen in muted colours, Laura Bush showed up in bright blue blazer and skirt set.
If there’s someone who really was seen owning it and making all kinds of choices when it came to her outfits during the unrestricted schedule of her two-day stopover in India, it is Michelle Obama.
Bold, colourful and approachable are the three words that perfectly define her. From bright colours to muted tones, Michelle was seen doing what she does best - slay. She was seen promoting small American designers as well as some known designers like Jason Wu and Prabal Gurung.
“Optics governed more or less everything in the political world, and I factored this into every outfit,” Michelle Obama wrote in her biography.
Like Jackie Kennedy, Michelle Obama has been among the most popular of First Ladies for her clothing.
Melania Trump during her visit to India might have the urge to emulate Jackie Kennedy, but the truth is she is up against Michelle Obama. And that might be tough to beat.
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