Frock and awe: Nikki Haley dress Donald Trump scorned sells out

What was it about the cut of Nikki Haley this week that made Donald Trump so snippy?

Donald Trump was enraged this week when Nikki Haley vowed to keep fighting him in the Republican primaries, despite his comprehensive wins in New Hampshire and Iowa.

The seething former president, angry at his rival’s refusal to drop out of the race, even denounced her appearance on stage in a “fancy dress that probably wasn’t so fancy”.

But was he right about that?

The dress appears to be the brand Teri Jon, a New York-based label founded by an Israel-born designer Rickie Freeman and carried by department stores around the US such as Saks and Neiman Marcus.


It’s a bell-sleeve, floral dress, which on Haley just touched the knee, with a conservative neckline and array of floral blues and navies embroidered.

The New York Times referenced in an article that the dress retails at $580 (€535), however website Jellibeans says that it retails at €524 at Neiman Marcus. The dress is sold out on Neiman Marcus and is no longer listed on the Teri Jon site.

Deirdre McQuillan, Fashion Editor at The Irish Times, says that although not a “fancy” dress, Haley’s choice of outfit was stylish..

“It’s in a dark colour, a simple print with the little bell cuffs,” she says, adding that Freeman’s designs “are not over the top, they don’t shout, they’re nice. It’s not a dress that you’re going to go wow or that stands out a mile,” McQuillan says.

“I think it looks appropriate for somebody like Nikki Haley. She knows – she’s been a diplomat - you can represent your own country in what you wear as a diplomat, and certainly our own ambassador at the US, Geraldine Byrne Nason, wears Irish deliberately to promote Irish dress.

“It’s an American design and it’s a simple dress, it’s not fancy, it’s not fancy dress, and no, she does not look ridiculous in it ... she’s an understated dresser, she’s not dressing in a shouty way,” McQuillan says.

“So it was an insulting, misogynistic remark, demeaning to women, and maybe all of his followers think that’s great, but she hasn’t responded by referring to his boring suits and red ties, baseball caps, a standard attack.”

Freeman moved to New York at the age of 17 and attended the city’s Fashion Institute of Technology.

She founded Teri Jon 35 years ago, and, according to its website, it is a choice brand for many celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Hudson, Meryl Street and former first lady and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The brand is described on its website as a luxury brand for “professionals, mothers, daughters, world travellers, home makers, sisters, and partiers”.

“Teri Jon is for you, no matter what the occasion: From work to dinner to weddings to the red carpet,” the site states.

Neither Freeman, nor Teri Jon responded to requests for comment on the remarks made by Trump on the design.

Fashion writer Marie Kelly says she was unsurprised over Trump’s “personal” attack on Haley.

“He denounced her both for wearing a dress that was ‘fancy’ but also ‘not so fancy’, which I thought was quite telling in terms of how women in the public eye are judged,” she says.

“Whether your clothes are high street or high-end, you’ll be criticised; whether you choose a dress or a trouser suit, you’ll be criticised – remember the merciless ridiculing of Hillary Clinton’s ‘pantsuits’?

“For men there is a recognised uniform of authority and power – the suit. There is no parallel for women, so those in the public eye have had to create their own sartorial language,” Kelly says.

She adds that Haley’s dress looked like a smart choice to her, “feminine but not girlish, professional but not generic – it showed personality and flair.

“Women in the public eye shouldn’t have to forgo their sense of personal style to fit in with a dress code devised by men for men,” Kelly says.

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