JANET STREET-PORTER: How can we trust a woman to run the country whose favourite ‘lucky coat’ looks like a sleeping bag?
Theresa May wears her ‘lucky’ blue coat as she leaves 10 Downing Street on Wednesday
The UK’s disastrous attempts to extract themselves from Europe without going bust lie in the hands of one woman. The British Prime Minister is on the front line of negotiations, haggling with Eurocrats, under constant surveillance by the world’s media, disgruntled party members and the appalled electorate back home. As the deadline approaches in the next few days, she’s been flying to and from Brussels, touring Britain begging anyone who will listen to give her a chance. She’s lost her voice, and nobody could blame her if she is also fast losing her temper.
Every aspect of Theresa May’s appearance, from her facial expressions to her general demeanour are being analysed for clues to Britain’s future. The Prime Minister must exude confidence, efficiency, limitless patience in the face of taciturn obstinacy of all sides.
Her Brexit deal might be going down like a cup of cold sick, but has Mrs May missed a trick in persuading us to be more accommodating?
Never underestimate the power of clothing. Female politicians should not whinge that their male counterparts can get away with suits, while they have to contend with fashion. The right clothing can send all sort of messages, and give the wearer an immediate advantage. Without sounding sexist, smart women can always use the right clothing to their advantage in any situation.
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Even Donald Trump has been eased into an elegant dark overcoat and the baseball cap has been prised off his head, as he struggles to get the funding for his ‘wall’. Melania wear clothes like armour, never revealing any flesh, always shinily perfect- but she has stylists and millions of dollars to pay for couture.
Sadly, Theresa May has the fashion instinct of a hamster. She has no natural instinct for what to wear, is badly advised, and constantly looks slightly ill at ease in whatever she’s chosen first thing that morning. I cannot believe that anyone chooses for her or styles this obstinate woman, because she is so badly dressed. If she has helpers, they probably work in a local clothing store in the home counties where dressing the local mayor’s wife or the chairwoman of the local golf club is a pretty big deal.
The PM sported the collarless, shapeless blue coat in Strasbourg on Monday as she met Jean-Claude Juncker for last-ditch talks in a failed bid to win support for her Brexit deal
Theresa May wore the same coat on Sunday when she attended church with husband Philip
I can sum up the catastrophe of Brexit in one key outfit, one which the Prime Minister has stuck to like glue over the past few weeks. She’s worn it to church, she’s worn it to Brussels, and she’s worn it to Parliament. Theresa May clearly regards this collarless, shapeless blue coat as her ‘lucky’ look, especially when it is worn with a down jacket underneath. The total effect is like a badly packed parcel, instead of signalling chic, power and control, it screams insecurity. Perhaps she feels that with her world in turmoil, aggression and nastiness lobbing her way on all sides, what she needs is a cosy garment that is the clothing equivalent of a duvet or tea cosy. It is unflattering, and not even warm – why else would she stick a hiking fleece underneath it?
The pale blue sleeping bag ensemble sends all the wrong messages, exactly like Dave Cameron in his nasty washed out blue polo shirt. The Eton-educated former Prime Minister (with a posh wife and a millionaire dad) always popped on this shapeless cotton garment whenever he went on holiday and had to oblige the press with a photo or two of him and Samantha sipping drinks in a pub or enjoying a pizza in a humble restaurant in the Mediterranean.
Samantha, a chic woman who has launched her own clothing line, must have been screaming inside everytime Dave put on the clapped-out polo shirt. It was his misguided attempt to emulate ‘common man’ and it carried all the credibility of a wet tea towel. I would look just as ridiculous in the Eton of a tail coat.
The pale blue sleeping bag ensemble sends all the wrong messages, exactly like David Cameron in his nasty washed out polo shirt (pictured with his wife Samantha in Spain in 2011)
Angela Merkel wears one jacket in a variety of colours and dark tailored trousers (left) while Margaret Thatcher (right, carrying a handbag) exuded power and control with her clothes
The blue coat reveals one thing – Theresa May is a failure. We already know she lacks empathy, she believes that dogged single-mindedness will triumph over flair and innovation (wrong). She has singlemindedly stuck to this coat and it’s as big a disaster as her Brexit deal.
Look at Angela Merkel – one hairstyle over decades, one jacket in a variety of colours, dark tailored trousers, job done. Those three items summer up Brand Merkel – no nonsense, easily recognisable, never alters under pressure, clean cut, no frills. Her strength of belief meant there was no point in wearing anything different. The Merkel brain didn’t need frills, frocks or accessories. Merkel understood the power of clothing and it served her well. By wearing the same jacket every day, it announced she had more important things to think about then whether her shoes matched her bag.
Look at Maggie Thatcher – originally a very badly dressed MP – once leader, she adopted the power handbag to emulate the Queen. She listened to her male advisors (who had worked in advertising and television current affairs) and restyled her hair blonder and more like Queen Boudiccea’s helmet. Maggie never really altered her hair, or her sharply tailored suits, and her clothes exuded power and control.
Theresa May is no Maggie and certainly no Merkel – her whacky oversized necklaces and weird tailored jackets ( always too short) and her terrible hats, all reveal her shortcomings and inadequacies.
Those silly shoes, which she clearly thinks signal ‘capable of fun’ and ‘frisky’ just seem irrelevant. The famous leather trousers worn for a fashion shoot were expensive, and curiously unsexy. The elegant dark tailored suits that are always ruined with a brown belt, the wrong necklace or a prim little shirt. She simply doesn’t understand that less is more. Or perhaps the attention-seeking whacky clothes are Mrs May’s way of distracting us from the fact that she’s extremely uncomfortable with the whole notion of simplicity and compromise – which is what modern politics is increasingly all about.
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