RARELY DO I TALK POLITICS in this
column (apart from the family kind, obviously). I may feel like having a rant about
something, or someone, in January, when I’m
flailing about for ideas. But will it (or they)
still be exercising me—or more importantly,
anyone else—by March, when the magazine
finally hits the newsstands? Unlikely.
However, I thought I might risk it, just this
Don’t panic! I am not going to “Bre-moan”
about Brexit. Or discuss The Donald.
No: I thought I would tackle another political
phenomenon which has divided Great Britain: Theresa’s trousers.
Assuming Mrs. May is still in office by the
time spring rolls around, I reckon people will
still be arguing about her taste in fashion.
Barroom brawls erupting between those who
think the Vivienne Westwood blue-checked
pantsuit she donned to deliver her “What I
Mean by Brexit Means Brexit” speech (her
“go-to outfit,” apparently) was a bold statement of intent, and those who think she
should give it back to Rupert Bear, at once.
It was, I have to admit, an improvement
on the ensemble she wore in Birmingham a
few weeks earlier: black cropped trousers and
black top cinched with an enormous hi-vis yellow belt and teamed with a pair of black velvet
ballet pumps with steel toe caps.
Some papers described it as “fashion
forward,” but to my mind she looked like Rosa
Klebb on lollipop lady duty.
Some will say I am being childish for even
raising such a frivolous matter. But frankly,
given that frivolous matters are all I can bear
to discuss at the moment—because the big
things are way too depressing—let’s roll with
this. And besides: she started it. With those
So, late last year, the PM gave a “relaxed”
interview with the Sunday Times, at her home.
Leaning back on a sofa, one arm resting over
the back (like a teenage boy waiting to make
a move in the cinema), and the kind of smile
playing over her lips that was no doubt meant
to say: “See? I’m not that scary” but in fact said:
“Hughes. My office, after school. Detention!”
However, it was Theresa’s trousers wot really
split the nation. They were leather. And cost £995.
Nicky Morgan (former secretary of state for
education and now rumoured to be in line for
a plum job in Hull) made the mistake of publicly commenting on the trews. She had never,
she said, spent that much on a single item
of clothing, apart from her wedding dress.
“My barometer is always: ‘How am I going to
explain this in Loughborough market?’” she
carried on. Hole. Digging.
Colleagues rushed to defend the PM
and her pants. Some said it was sexist of Ms
Morgan (who could never be accused of being
a dedicated follower of fashion) to criticise a
fellow woman MP simply for her dress sense,
“Trousergate” gained more legs
when it emerged that Mrs. May’s
top aide had sent a memo banning
Morgan (aka “that woman”) from
Number 10, after her remarks.
Come, come! Time to grow
a hide, Theresa. In addition to
the thousand pound “bitter
chocolate” one you’re already
sporting on your rear end,
Every prime minister in
recent memory has had to
endure abuse about their
clothes: David Cameron’s
Achilles’ heel was
shoes. Six years ago
the press went gaga
when some eagle-eyed
snapper spotted, during
the ritual start-of-summer-hols
photo call, that our “chillaxed”
PM was still wearing his black
work shoes, albeit sans socks.
Dave, Dave, Dave…they can
see ALL of you, love, even
the bits under the table.
And speaking of
“under,” with John
Major, it was pants of the under variety that
became overexposed, after his lover Edwina
Curry (let’s just savour that again...Edwina
Curry and John Major…nope, never gets old)
revealed the grey man of politics actually
favoured blue undies and not tighty whities,
as the whole country had assumed. Cue pant-
Gordon Brown was slightly different, in
that fashion commentary was largely restricted
to trying to identify which foodstuffs had
fallen onto his tie on any given day.
And the press was too terrified of Mrs. T—
with her pussy-bow blouses, adding a “hint
of softness” (as if !), and bulletproof hair—to
say anything unflattering lest she wallop
them with her handbag (which I like to think
contained just a small can of Elnett and ten
pounds of lead shot, to add heft).
She got it right, as usual. Rise above it. It’s
hard to imagine Dame Jennifer Smith giving a
tinkly toot, as my mother might say, about
what some hack at The Royal Gazette
thought of the outfit she wore to the
But Mrs. May does care. Long
before she was PM, her surpris-
ingly saucy taste in footwear
(leopard print kitten heels!)
made her a favourite with
photographers at the Tory
Party Conference, an event
so boring I suspect the
invite says Dress Code:
But anyone who courts
attention with her Rus-
sell & Bromley “Viva-
cious” court shoes (Bor-
deaux patent leather, velvet
bow, glitter heel, £175)
cannot cry foul when atten-
tion shifts to other elements
of her wardrobe. Especially when
she has just agreed to do a spread
in April’s issue of Vogue. “Well,
that really shows the world
she means business,” a
friend commented. Ru-
pert Bear had better lock
up his wardrobe.
That’s Life! A Letter from London | WRITTEN BY WINIFRED BLACKMORE