It didn’t take long for the comparisons to start. Just minutes after Melania Trump stepped out in a powder blue dress with a matching jacket and gloves at her husband’s inauguration, tweets and headlines began pointing out that America’s newest first lady appeared to be channeling one of its most beloved: Jackie Kennedy.
Over the weekend, while visiting Mar-a-Lago with President Trump, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and his wife Akie Abe, Melania mimicked Jackie’s style yet again.
As she stepped off the plane at Palm Beach International Airport on Friday, the First Lady sported statement sunglasses, wide-legged white trousers, and a black button-down, nearly the exact same outfit Jackie Kennedy wore to the West Palm Beach Airport in 1973. Clearly, this wasn’t a coincidence.
Both critics and supporters of the President seem to bemoan these comparisons, but the first lady may be modeling herself after her famous predecessor in more ways than just the sartorial. As Kennedy did, Trump has a young son and she puts the responsibility of being a mother before her role as First Lady. Kennedy often passed off her duties to Second Lady Lady Bird Johnson, and while Trump remains in New York for the time being, she seems to be sharing some of her responsibilities with her step-daughter, Ivanka.
As Kate Andersen Brower, author of First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies, pointed out Trump once said, “I am a full-time mom; that is my first job. The most important job ever.” It’s a sentiment akin to Jackie’s famous, “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much.”
These parallels shouldn’t be so surprising. After all, when asked in 1999 about what kind of First Lady she’d be if her husband were President, Trump said, “I would be very traditional. Like Betty Ford or Jackie Kennedy. I would support him.”