Margaret Thatcher: 'I wear my Sunday best seven days a week'Saturday, April 13, 2013
There's a picture of a 33-year-old Mrs Denis Thatcher, recently elected MP for Finchley and Friern Barnet, seated on a wall outside her house in Kent, with her six-year-old twins. Even then, Mark looks like trouble. Carol leans in close to her mother. And Mrs Thatcher, dressed in a beautifully cut, slim skirt suit, adorned with one of her customary lapel brooches, looks composed and strikingly immaculate, her hair set in that familiar back roll that added at least 20 years to her age, but had the virtue of doing exactly what she required of it. Blow winds and hurricanes; bring on the six-year-old tantrums. That hair isn't going anywhere.
Granted, it's, perhaps, somewhat staged. And women did look smart in those days. But this isn't simply the starchy formality of the period. Almost three decades later, when Anne Diamond interviewed the prime minister on TV-am in the run-up to London Fashion Week in 1984 (Mrs T, an early government supporter of British fashion, was, for the first time, throwing open the doors of No 10 to host a party for the industry), the PM demonstrated a knowledge of fashion and an eye for detail that female politicians even now are afraid to display for fear of seeming trivial.
Wearing a chic (yes chic, not just formal) grey flannel jacket from Aquascutum, one of her favourite labels, Mrs Thatcher confessed to Diamond that, like most of her generation, she appreciated "a little padding. But nothing exaggerated." The daughter of a talented dressmaker, Mrs Thatcher couldn't help observing that the darts on Anne Diamond's shoulders were 1930s style, which wouldn't work on someone Mrs Thatcher's age, she said.
She was almost certainly right: what becomes increasingly apparent with the distance of time is that Mrs Thatcher was a very snappy dresser indeed, and one with considerable verve. A dark velvet, ruched dress with a sweetheart neckline, matching muff and extraordinary hat featuring a cascade of white ribbons for her wedding to Denis in 1951; a crisp, sailor-inspired suit with a white twist of a hat for a garden party at Buckingham Palace; a lovely silvery-blue dress coat that would look at home on the Valentino catwalks today (which the then education secretary accessorised with a blue patterned neck scarf, toning eye shadow, peachy lipstick and buttery blonde highlights) in a 1970 portrait by celebrity snapper Terry O'Neill ) & these were not the blandly smart outfits that all politicians are required to wear, but the emblems of someone who both understood and enjoyed the power of good clothes.
In many ways her style was partly the good manners of an older generation, but it was also armour. A well-tailored suit made her feel safe, she confessed. A trip to Paris without the kind of outfits she felt were suitably elegant threw her into a tizzy (and a speedy shopping spree). "I have to be in my Sunday best seven days a week," she said. "If ever there was a day when I was wearing something old and not very nice, you can guarantee that would be the day someone important came to see me."
— The Telegraph
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