As first ladies go, Melania Trump has kept a lower profile than most, having moved into the White House only this past summer. But after arriving in Washington, D.C. in June, she's been an occasional presence at official functions and public events, becoming more visible despite her husband sucking up almost every ounce of attention out there. And some people took note of a distinct aesthetic choice she made on Tuesday ― namely, Melania Trump's "FLOTUS" hat drew some attention.
It's not hard to see why some people took note of Melania's hat, to be clear. A solid black baseball cap, with the acronym "FLOTUS" across the front in white letters, it's a marked departure from some of the styles of her past, when she's notably gone with veils, fedoras, and even poofy fur hats when she's looking for something to cover her hair. Indeed, the same kinds of people who favor the heavily gendered, sexist image and fashion standards typically applied to first ladies ― the need for fancy clothing, flawless makeup, and an elegant personal style ― would likely frown on the sight of one donning a baseball cap.
However, whatever you think of the look, or the practice of scrutinizing what first ladies wear, it's definitely not the most significant news item out there right now. Not even the most significant Melania-related headline, when you consider why she and her husband are in Texas in the first place: touring the devastating damage wrought by Hurricane Harvey, which has reportedly already killed more than a dozen people.
In short, whatever outfit Melania wears is totally irrelevant in the face of the real human costs of the storm, whether you're scrutinizing her hat, shoes, or anything else.
To the extent that her flood-visit attire has drawn criticism, however, it's not all about gendered standards of beauty or elegance. Rather, it's ostensibly rooted in where she's going and what she's doing.
Her initial boarding of Air Force One on Tuesday morning, wearing high-heels, stirred up some attention and criticism for the perceived clash between her choice of footwear and visiting a flooded, devastated disaster zone.
Melania actually changed attire while flying to Texas. While it's impossible to say for sure what prompted the switch, by the time Air Force One touched down, she'd switched to a pair of sneakers, in addition the the black, FLOTUS-branded baseball cap.
It's also unclear whether the cap will be added as an available piece of Trump-themed merchandise, which would certainly make its appearance during a national disaster controversial. The president has already drawn criticism for donning a for-purchase USA hat in a photo of him taking a call regarding Hurricane Harvey.
While there hasn't been any indication just yet that the FLOTUS hat will be marketed as well, it wouldn't be terribly surprising ― the Trump campaign, now administration, has never been shy about pushing its merchandise.