Thatcher’s wardrobe

Margaret Thatcher trying on hats in her home in 1971. Photo: Selwyn Tait/Sygma, via Corbis

I’ve previously written about how how a speaker looks is an element of their persuasiveness and this week I thought I’d apply this to Margaret Thatcher (I’ve also written about how she lowered the pitch of her voice to appear more credible).

This comes in the week that a US survey on media coverage of women candidates found that when the media focuses on a woman candidate’s appearance she pays a price in the polls. This finding held true whether the coverage of a woman candidate’s appearance was framed positively, negatively or in neutral terms.

As we have seen in the coverage of Margaret Thatcher this week, a lot of attention was give to how she appeared. The most authoritative studies of her are by Dr Daniel Conway at Loughborough University, in particular his article Margaret Thatcher, Dress and the Politics of Fashion where he states that “Thatcher moved beyond the classed and gendered constraints of her background, learned and adapted her dress to suit the political occasion and sought to include dress as a legitimate political concern.”

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