WELL-WORN

Sorry, Melania Trump’s Pussy-Bow Blouse Doesn’t Mean Anything

Critics are analyzing the pussy-bow blouse Melania Trump wore to Sunday’s debate. Was it a symbol of tacit support or condemnation of her husband? Answer: neither.

Getty

Melania Trump has been so consistently silent throughout her husband’s presidential campaign that pundits are quite literally looking for meaning in her clothes.

When the wife of Donald Trump attended last night’s presidential debate wearing a fuchsia, Gucci pussy-bow blouse (price: $1,100), the Internet went wild with conspiracy theories.

Just days after the incident now unfortunately known as “Pussygate”—after a video surfaced of Trump boasting about how he goes up to “beautiful” women and “grab[s] them by the pussy”—Melania, whether she meant to or not, showed up to the debate in a statement-making blouse.

Internet denizens and political pundits concluded that Melania’s pussy-bow blouse could only be one of two things: expert trolling or sad irony.

Was it an overt wink at the media over her husband’s comments about how easy it is to grab non-consenting women’s pussies when you’re famous—a silent rebellion and bright-pink ‘fuck you’ in solidarity with other women? Or was it an unhappy coincidence that made her seem ever more the trophy wife of a misogynist reality TV star turned misogynist presidential nominee?

The speculation reached an absurd fever pitch when, having reached out to Trump’s camp for comment about Melania’s blouse, CBS News’ Sopan Deb tweeted, “Campaign spokeswoman says this was not intentional.”

Of course it wasn’t intentional: the fact that Melania’s top made news because the style is named after bows frequently tied around cats’ necks is objectively ridiculous.

Apparently Americans are so thrilled to have license to say “pussy” that they’ll take any opportunity they can get.

Designers like Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent popularized the pussy-bow blouse in the 60s (YSL incorporated it into his “Le Smoking” tuxedo, a subversive take on menswear that liberated women from constraints of traditional feminine dressing).

The blouse’s feminist history was even more firmly established in the ‘80s, when female executives wore the blouse as a subtle feminine touch to their boardroom power-suits (it was also a signature of Margaret Thatcher’s wardrobe).

While ‘Pussygate’ has ignited a larger debate about rape culture, the p-word has become a linguistic lightning rod shared between feminists and man-children like Trump.

But dragging Melania’s blouse into the conversation feels like a juvenile attempt by all of us to perpetuate the drama and conflict of Trump’s recorded remarks.

Get The Beast In Your Inbox!

Daily Digest

Start and finish your day with the top stories from The Daily Beast.

Cheat Sheet

A speedy, smart summary of all the news you need to know (and nothing you don't).

By clicking “Subscribe,” you agree to have read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
Thank You!
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason.

It’s not new for women in public life to have their wardrobes relentlessly scrutinized: Hillary Clinton herself has made a self-aware joke of it, describing herself in her Twitter profile as ‘pantsuit aficionado’.

The focus is especially acute for Melania, because she is both a former model and has been mostly mute throughout Trump’s campaign.

From her bungled RNC speech, part of which was plagiarized from a 2008 speech by Michele Obama, to the nude photos published by the New York Post and, now, the revelation that she was pregnant with Barron Trump when her real estate mogul husband was bragging about groping women without their consent (“When you’re a star, they let you do it”), she’s proven again and again to be either a scapegoat or a distraction from her husband’s reckless presidential campaign.

In a statement responding to Trump’s lewd remarks last week, Melania said they were “unacceptable and offensive to me.” Ultimately, though, she stood by her man, asking that America accept his apology just as she has done. “This does not represent the man I know,” she said. “He has the heart and mind of a leader.”

That’s all we got from Melania on the leaked tape: a weak defense of her husband, who has given us more than enough evidence that his misogynistic remarks are alarmingly consistent with his character.

Melania has been trotted out beside Trump as a pretty face, like one of his beauty pageant contestants, and has spoken precious few words for a woman running to be the next First Lady.

In the absence of words, we’ve taken to decoding her appearance instead. But when it comes to her pussy-bow blouse, we need not stoop to Trump’s level.