Melania Trump’s “pussy-bow” shirt at her husband’s second presidential debate was “not intentional”


In the lead-up to the second US presidential debate tonight (Oct. 9), the electorate waited anxiously to see how Donald Trump would respond to video surfaced by the Washington Post in which Trump talked about forcibly kissing and groping women. By now the comments are familiar to many, including the part where Trump boasts he can grab women “by the pussy” if he feels like it.

Given the highly charged situation, the top that Melania Trump, the candidate’s wife, chose for the evening was risky, to say the least. She opted for what’s called a “pussy-bow” blouse—a sartorial reverberation of her husband’s lewd remarks, apparently by Gucci in silk crepe de chine.

There’s no indication that the choice was meant to symbolize anything. The Trump campaign told CBS the choice was not intentional. But it didn’t keep people from noticing.

The style, which has actually come back into fashion in recent months due largely to Gucci’s influence, has a mixed history of its own—especially among feminists, as I’ve written. Some loathe it, because it recalls the way women entering the workforce en masse in the 1970s and 1980s had to conform to office dress codes established by men: The blouse was seen as the women’s equivalent of the shirt and tie.

Other women embrace that history, and the empowerment they find in the name, which some believe started because of the bow’s resemblance to a vagina. (It’s more likely the name is derived from the bows people used to tie on their cats’ necks, as implied by the style’s other name: the pussycat-bow.)

The shirt also became closely associated with Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s prime minister throughout the 1980s. The conservative leader wore them because she found them “rather softening and pretty,” as a contrast with her notoriously tough persona.

Whatever Melania Trump meant to convey with her look, her pink bow unfortunately managed to remind many of her husband’s comments about women—which weren’t pretty.

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