While the First Lady wore a custom Jason Wu gown, the girls opted for age-appropriate Naeem Khan dresses.
They looked stunning in the dresses loaned to them —key word “loaned”— but somehow naysayers found a problem. The “issue” concerns the fact that their embroidered appliqué gowns cost an estimated $20,000 apiece.
PEOPLE magazine noted that the guiding principle seemed to be “princess moment,” as both girls selected super-romantic gowns from the designer’s recent collections.
Malia, 17, chose a simple, sophisticated blush gown with a sweetheart neckline and all over crystal beading, which once retailed on Moda Operandi for $17,990. Sasha, 14, went for something a little bolder, deciding on a beaded lace and appliqué ball gown in shades of cranberry, turquoise, black and beige; it formerly sold for $19,990.
The uproar over the girls’ dresses began after Kristen Sze, an ABC News anchor in San Francisco, criticized the First Family in a since-deleted tweet for allowing the girls to wear the expensive dresses. She later apologized:
Deleted tweets when realized they failed big time. Didn't mean 2 hurt any feelings. #mybad
It was not the first time the girls have become ensnared in the politics of criticism.
In 2014, they were criticized for wearing short skirts and looking disinterested at the White House Turkey Pardon. “Act like being in the White House matters to you,” GOP staffer Elizabeth Lauten said in a Facebook post. “Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at the bar. And certainly don’t make faces at televised, public events.”