Theresa May is among the most senior politicians in Britain: one of the country’s longest-ever serving Home Secretaries and hotly tipped to take over from David Cameron in the not-too-distant future. Despite this, little is known about the leading lady of British politics, aside from her Thatcher-esque steely determination and shrewdness.
A quick Google search of May brings up thumbnails of a woman with a clear appreciation for excellent tailoring and a statement necklace. Venturing into Google images brings up more photos of the Home Secretary, with her signature sleek, low-lighted blonde bob, alongside suggested searches including her most notable outfits and a search dedicated solely to her shoes, which documents a penchant for vivacious footwear and knee-high leather boots.
Shoes, it appears, are to May – according to the internet – what that long tongue is to Miley Cyrus or what the beehive was to Amy Winehouse. Outlandish shoes are now expected of her. Her £215 Russell and Bromley jewel-encrusted brogues, worn at last year’s party conference and paired with a £1,190 green tartan Vivienne Westwood suit, sent the media into overdrive.
It all began in 2002 with a pair of presumably innocently intended leopard print high-heels at the Tory party conference. Nothing she said on stage that day was more precedent than what she strode out onto it wearing. How audacious of a middle-aged woman in politics to show a hint of interest in anything other than plain and drab attire!
Red patent wedges, zebra-print kitten heels and leopard print loafers all garnered a similar reaction. May has clearly become the Imelda Marcus of UK politics over the years.
On door-to-door calls in 2005 in her constituency of Maidenhead, according to Sam Olsen, a previous campaign manager speaking to the Guardian, May wore flat shoes in her car and changed into stylish heels before meeting potential voters to avoid the inevitable question: Where are the shoes?
“The shoes are a leopard-print curse because she’s now expected to wear them all the time,” he said.
Clearly a fan of wild animal print, perhaps May’s fondness for the pattern in 2002 was a subtle allusion to her now cemented status as the most powerful woman in British politics. And she hasn’t stopped at footwear.
As one of five women in the Tory cabinet, May uses her wardrobe to be seen and heard against the banal sea of navy and black suits – although, as a vehement Home Secretary, we’re not quite sure she needs to, but it keeps Prime Minister’s questions all the more commanding.
Sitting in the upper echelons of British politics, amongst an assortment of faceless men, May could very well do what most women probably would. Blend in and act like “one of the guys”. However her appreciation for fashion is not swayed by the world in which she moves, May uses her sense of style to remain true to herself and powerhouse women across the UK.
“I have no regrets”
Theresa May on those leopard print heels
Strapless LBD’s, brightly patterned “look-at-me” coats, tailored jackets with nipped-in waists, fitted dresses, colour-co-ordination, chunky necklaces and statement shoes are all hallmarks of the Theresa May look.
Having being likened to style queen Cara Delevingne in the wardrobe stakes – whom May has described as ‘one of the most beautiful women in the world’ – she even has a Tumblr page, Twitter accounts and blogs dedicated to her outfit choices, as well as many column inches over the years chronicling the highs and lows of her style awareness.
While I admit it’s unusual to see a sober-minded female politician in the Conservative Party demonstrate such enthusiasm for fashion – as well as independent flair and exuberance in her garment choices – I certainly applaud her.
A woman MP is a rare thing, but one who takes delight in what would be perceived as basic commodities (speaking politically correctly of course!) while still ensuring she is taken seriously – being heard, not just seen – is undoubtedly something to be highlighted.