Yes, We Do Care: Michelle Obama’s Stylist and Several Designers Remind Us to Care About What We Wear

Then-President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama watch a basketball game in Towson, Md., on Nov. 26, 2011.
Then-President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama watch a basketball game in Towson, Md., on Nov. 26, 2011.
Photo: Jewel Samad (AFP/Getty Images)

“Barack and I knew very early that we would be measured by a different yardstick. Making mistakes was not an option for us. Not that we didn’t make mistakes, but we had to be good—no, we had to be outstanding—at everything we did. … When you’re the first, you’re the one that’s laying the red carpet down for others to follow.”

—Michelle Obama at the 2018 American Library Association conference in New Orleans

Advertisement

“It’s a jacket,” Melania Trump’s spokesperson said when the first lady chose to wear a Zara jacket bearing the words, “I really don’t care, do U?” last week. But as former forever first lady Michelle Obama’s former stylist Meredith Koop reminded us last weekend, first ladies never make unconscious fashion statements.

But amid the outcry that arose from Melania Trump’s unapologetic insensitivity, perhaps the best responses have been in the form of the “clapback fashion” created by several designers and DIYers. One standout? Female-founded brand Wildfang, which created a capsule collection of clothing ($40-$98) that reads, “I really care, don’t U?” with 100 percent of proceeds immediately going to immigrant-advocacy agency Raices.

New “public service apparel” brand PSA Supply Co. (created by global citizen sites Upworthy and GOOD) also got into the act, creating a $29 T-shirt that benefits youth-led immigrant network United We Dream (we’re also big fans of its “Nov. 6” tee).

Advertisement

And of course, there’s always the DIY option. Several folks used their own resources to rebuke Trump’s fashion statement, including this adorable little girl and musician Michael Franti.

Advertisement

But of course (because we have expensive tastes), our reluctant favorite came in the form of a hand-embroidered $380 cashmere sweater from luxury resistance label (oxymoronic, and we know it) Lingua Franca.

Advertisement

To be fair, the brand will donate $100 of the retail price of each sustainably sourced, fair trade cashmere sweater to the charity of your choice, but in the end, we just love the idea of saying it with our chests—you know, like a (first) lady should.

Advertisement

Honestly, the female-owned brand’s entire Resistance series feels splurgeworthy at the moment. Because given the current state of our United States, a lot of us have been longing for better days ...

Advertisement

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?

DISCUSSION

txbiohazard
TXBiohazard

That excerpt resounds in me quite a bit. I remember one of my first encounters with “white unawareness” came in the form of a friend of mine who called me out on being too cautious in social situations. She asked me why I “never let loose” and why I always seemed to care how I presented myself to others. I explained to her that I learned a long time ago that (some) people don’t see me and just see “Txbiohazard”; they see everyone that may be of South Asian descent (although I’m more often than not assumed to be black), or everyone that may be Orthodox Christian, whether I want them to or not. Especially when they’ve never met someone of either distinction (welcome to Small Town, America).  We both are Americans, but that’s not the first thing people assume about me. She then went on complaining how she wished she was more than just a plain white girl...we don’t speak much anymore.