Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
You know, Etiquetteer was not always so Perfectly Proper. Once during the Rebellious Teenage Years, Teen Etiquetteer wore a button with a Profane Suggestion on it while out in public. Teenagers are always eager to test the limits of adults, yes? Well, Etiquetteer will never forget getting called out by a teller in a crowded bank. "Take that button off!" she almost shouted in the bank. "Take it off!" And Teen Etiquetteer, abashed, did exactly that. The lesson of how what we wear impacts those around us was learned.
And now, only hours ago, the First Lady of the Land appears after visiting a detention center for immigrant children separated from the parents wearing a jacket with the legend "I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?" spray-painted on the back. Slack-jawed, Etiquetteer was astonished to discover that this wasn't some hacked photo; she really wore this. And you know that the first thing Etiquetteer thought of was wearing that provocative button and getting called out for it.
Now Etiquetteer is not one of Those People who think Melania Trump is some Dumb Cluck. She is a smart and savvy woman and, if she knows anything about anything, as a former model she knows about clothes and the impact they make. We've already seen in her Inauguration Day ensemble her awareness of the fashion legacy of Jackie Kennedy. And as the New York Times said, "She rarely makes an accidental fashion choice." She chose that jacket deliberately.
Let's not ask the question "Was it the right choice?" The real question is "Was it the Perfectly Proper choice?" The answer is a resounding NO. Etiquetteer cannot know whether it was chosen to punk the press, to garner television ratings, to rally President Trump's base, or to express genuine contempt for those detained by the government. Regardless, whether she intended it or not, Mrs. Trump has now negated the value of her visit to the detention center and identifed herself as Insincere. And that is a very difficult thing to live down, especially on the world stage as she is. The statement of her press spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham that "It's a jacket" is laughably disingenuous.
Now comes the question for the wider world: is a jacket with a message like that really Perfectly Proper for anyone to wear, in any circumstances? For Etiquetteer, the answer is again a resounding NO. No matter what the occasion, clothing advertising one's disinterest - disrespect, even - isn't appropriate. Zara has been selling this jacket since 2016. How many people now still have this jacket in their closets, and what are they going to do with them? Continuing to wear them in public will make more of a statement than they want! And indeed, the backlash is already beginning, as altered images of jackets with other messages are already circling the globe.
Proper dress conveys to the world not only our opinion of ourselves, but our opinion of those around us. Choose what you wear to convey respect for all around you.