As she boarded a plane to visit the US-Mexico border on Thursday, where immigrant children have been forcefully separated from their parents under a “zero-tolerance” policy by President Trump, first lady Melania Trump was spotted wearing a green military-style jacket with a phrase on the back that read: “I really don’t care, do u?”
The jacket’s phrasing sparked some outrage among critics and led the White House to defend the first lady’s clothing choice.
“It’s a jacket. There was no hidden message,” said Mrs. Trump’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, according to a pool report. “After today’s important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn’t going to choose to focus on her wardrobe.”
Grisham followed up with a tweet, again admonishing the media for reporting on the jacket:
Today’s visit w the children in Texas impacted @flotus greatly. If media would spend their time & energy on her actions & efforts to help kids - rather than speculate & focus on her wardrobe - we could get so much accomplished on behalf of children. #SheCares #ItsJustAJacket— Stephanie Grisham (@StephGrisham45) June 21, 2018
The jacket is reportedly sold by Zara, a Spanish fashion retailer that is popular both abroad and in the United States.
And in apparent show of defiance, the first lady donned the jacket yet again as she arrived back in Maryland early Thursday evening, and then continued wearing it as she walked into the White House.
President Trump also tweeted about the jacket Thursday.
“I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” written on the back of Melania’s jacket, refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2018
I mean let’s face it, she doesn’t. #PhotoOP— Maya Contreras (@mayatcontreras) June 21, 2018
“Melania Trump made quite the sartorial statement on Thursday when she donned a jacket with the words, 'I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?' written across the back while boarding a plane to visit immigrant children being held at the border...” pic.twitter.com/DsAf9HVlQO
Mrs. Trump wore the jacket on her way to a Texas facility housing migrant children who have been separated from their parents. Trump reversed the separation policy on Wednesday.
The youthful jacket sharply contrasts with the first lady’s typically bold, foreign-flavored wardrobe. In public appearances, the first lady has worn designs by Dolce & Gabbana, Del Pozo, Christian Dior, Emilio Pucci, Givenchy, and Valentino, often with daringly high Christian Louboutin heels.
It’s also worth noting: When she got off the plane in Texas, Mrs. Trump had changed into a different jacket for her visit.
‘‘I’m here to learn about your facility,’’ Mrs. Trump said as she received a briefing about the work of Upbring New Hope Children’s Shelter. She told facility directors that she wants to ‘‘ask you how I can help these children be reunited with their families as quickly as possible.’’
President Trump said during a cabinet meeting Thursday afternoon that his wife had gone to the border ‘‘because it really bothered her to be looking at this and seeing it, as it bothered me.’’
Grisham told reporters earlier on Thursday that the first lady had asked Tuesday that the trip be organized, one day before the president issued an executive order changing his policy.
‘‘She wanted to see everything for herself. . . . She supports family reunification,” Grisham said. he thinks that it’s important that children stay with their families.’’
Thursday isn’t the first time the first lady caught attention for what she was wearing. In August 2017, on her way to Texas to survey the damage caused by Tropical Storm Harvey, she was spotted boarding Marine One and then Air Force One in sky-high heels. However — similar to Thursday — upon arrival in Corpus Christi, Texas, the first lady was wearing much more sensible footwear: white sneakers.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.