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When is a jacket not just a jacket? When a first lady uses it to send a message.

It seems that the back of a first lady is now the hot place for White House messaging.

During President Biden’s first in-person meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday, Jill Biden, the first lady, wore a black jacket over her black-and-white polka dot dress as the leaders and spouses met on a scenic overlook in the south of England.

The jacket had a single word on it: “LOVE.”

The delivery method — if not the content of the message itself — was an unmistakable echo of the time that Melania Trump, then first lady, famously wore a jacket during a visit to children separated from their parents at the southwestern United States border that said “I really don’t care, do u?”

That message, written in white letters on a green jacket, instantly became a sensation as people sought to find meaning in the harsh-sounding words.

Mrs. Trump’s spokeswoman later said that the message was intended as a slap at journalists, not a comment about the conditions that the migrant children were being kept in after her husband’s policy of separating them from their parents.

But it was clear that Mrs. Trump — like Dr. Biden on Thursday — was well aware that her jacket would be noticed.

Unlike her predecessor, Dr. Biden was quick to provide an immediate explanation and context for her choice of a jacket and the message she was trying to send. In comments to reporters traveling with the president, she said that the jacket was intended to offer a “sense of hope” to a world gripped by Covid.

“I think that we’re bringing love from America,” she said. “This is a global conference, and we are trying to bring unity across the globe. And I think it’s needed right now, that people feel a sense of unity from all the countries and feel a sense of hope after this year of the pandemic.”

She did not, however, say whether her jacket was intended as a rebuke of sorts to Mrs. Trump, or even inspired by the previous incident. Asked about the comparison, her communications director referred to her comments to reporters.

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