The cost difference between Melania Trump's and Michelle Obama's gardening outfits reveal a crucial difference between them

Melania Trump has made another public appearance in an pricey outfit. 

On Friday, the first lady held a event in the White House Gardens, hosting local school children to help harvest the garden founded by Michelle Obama. 

Trump wore a Balmain plaid shirt to the event, along with Converse sneakers, CNN’s Kate Bennett reported on Twitter.

The shirt is being sold for $US1,380 on Net-A-Porter, and perfectly matched Trump’s gardening gloves. 

The gardening event is reminiscent of one of Michelle Obama’s most well-known acts as a first lady: founding the White House garden in 2009. The garden was a symbol of Obama’s efforts to reduce childhood obesity, with initiatives such as the Let’s Move! campaign and school nutritional regulations. 

In addition to serving as a symbol of her anti-obesity initiatives, Obama used the White House garden as a place to showcase her down-to-earth fashion. Vogue said in its review of Obama’s 2012 book, “American Grown”: “Throughout the book, the first lady, always beautifully coiffed, wears a different J. Crew sweater to match the season (marigold yellow for summer, argyle for fall).”

Her garden style is less accessible than Obama’s clothes from J. Crew and Target. At $US1,380 for a seemingly casual shirt, most people aren’t going to run out to copy Trump’s style. 

First ladies’ outfits are not paid for with taxpayer dollars, so the cost of the first lady’s attire doesn’t impact the American people at all. However, how both Trump and Obama dress as first ladies is a series of calculated, strategic decisions.

Obama used fashion to appear as an accessible yet aspirational “mum-in-chief,” despite her unique position: an incredibly academically accomplished first lady, the so-far only African-American first lady, and the first to be the frequent subject of racist attacks.

So far in her public life, Trump has never had to try to be relatable. Trump and her husband have long embodied a more gold-plated, luxe version of the American dream than the Obamas.

It’s a version of opulence that repulses many, especially progressives. But it’s also a luxury-oriented style of self-presentation that helped make the Trump family famous.

Even in the White House garden built by Obama, Trump isn’t going to shy away from her signature style. If you dislike her, that will probably deepen your aversion.

But, if you support the first lady, you most likely believe Balmain is now the perfect attire for the White House garden. 

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