First Lady face-off!
The 70-year-old Doctor of Education has been photographed re-wearing the same very distinct dresses on several occasions. To the everyday person, this may be normal — but is this taboo for a FLOTUS? Celebrity fashion designer David Meister — who dressed Biden on several occasions for official engagements while she served as second lady — sits down with OK! to share his thoughts when it comes to political style.
"Obviously [Jill Biden is] very smart and very bright, and fashion isn't her cause or the first thing she wants to present," Meister explains. "I don't think it's taboo [to re-wear dresses]. I have no problem with re-wearing clothes, but I think [when] you're photographed so much, some first ladies don't want [to be] photographed in the same thing twice — and I don't think that's a bad thing."
The 59-year-old designer compares Dr. Biden's style and her willingness to re-wear clothes to that of our former first ladies, explaining that while she isn't necessarily the first to re-wear her dresses, she definitely does it the most.
"Michelle Obama, once in awhile, you'd see her [re-wearing outfits]. She had a black Azzedine three-quarter sleeve knit sweater she wore a lot and a big Azzedine belt," Meister recalls. "Her clothes were of a mix of high-low, but you didn't necessarily see a lot of the same."
Biden's style is also much different than Obama's, Meister shares: "It's much more accessible, real and relatable."
Another first lady who has been photographed re-wearing outfits in the public eye is Laura Bush. "Laura Bush wore a lot of Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera suits, and some of that was repeated," acknowledges Meister.
On the other hand, our country has had several notable fashion icons in the White House who would never re-wear the same outfit. "Jackie [Kennedy]? Never! Melania [Trump]? Never!" the designer exclaims. "I really just think it's the person and what their statement is."
Most recently we've watched our FLOTUS transition from Melania Trump as a fashion-focused first lady to Dr. Biden, who puts her focus on other causes. Not only are the two opposite in stature — Trump towering at 5'11" and Biden more petite in nature at 5'6" — the way they present themselves could not be more opposite. Meister says their styles are "very, very different — for so many reasons".
"Melania looks beautiful in clothes, and I did like the fact no one can walk in a five-inch heel like her, but that [fashion] was one of her most important things — that was one of her big causes," Meister says lightheartedly. "She was more like a model. She could wear anything and look great, but I don't think people related to that.
"Jill Biden is much more petite. She looks just as great in clothes, but it's a different kind and a different way of dressing. I think people can relate much more to Dr. Biden as a real, everyday, working woman," the body-conscious women's wear designer explains.
In 2018, the former supermodel wore a highly criticized jacket that read, "I really don't care, do u?," on her way to an immigrant children's shelter at the U.S.-Mexico border. Conversely, the current educator recently wore a statement jacket that read, "Love," while meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the south of England.
So what's a fashion designer's take on these symbolic (or not-so symbolic) pieces of clothing? Meister ponders the question before answering, "I think it's fine to have a message in fashion, but I think Dr. Biden's was much more easily understood. I still don't know exactly what Melania was trying to say — good, bad or indifferent — and I think that's what is the whole uproar to this day. It was so ambiguous, and it did exactly probably what she wanted — it got everyone talking for months and months and months."
When is comes to symbolism within clothing — through both the use of words and color — the fashion expert elaborates on his perception of this interpretation explaining, "I personally think people are starting to overthink things. I think if we have to analyze everything, we can find a problem with everything in the world. If we have to start reading all of the undertones and undercurrents, then it becomes crazy. Fashion should be important but it should also be fun.
"In certain countries there are colors that you don't wear," Meister continues, "so in that case I totally understand. When all the women at the State of the Union Address all wore off white, that I get, you're making a group statement for public impact. But other than that, I say you should look good, feel good, carry yourself well and that makes a statement." Dr. Biden is a first lady that embodies Meister's view on fashion to a tee by wearing what makes her feel good — despite the public's opinions on her fashion choices.