The im­por­tance of the right trousers

Country Life Every Week - - Spectator - Les­lie Ged­des-brown

THOSE leather trousers. In my view, they were a coup —Theresa May, at the age of 60, looked ter­rific in them. The leather was glossy, clearly com­fort­able, sup­ple and a fine to­bacco brown. Ex­pen­sive, sure, at £995, but not a waste of money. Mrs May added a cosy brown cowl-neck sweater and sneakers, which were just right. Top marks. Also top marks for the £1,190 Vivi­enne West­wood Black Watch tar­tan ‘lucky suit’ she wore to an­nounce both her lead­er­ship bid in June 2016 and, re­cently, the terms of Brexit.

De­spite pa­tro­n­is­ing snarls from for­mer Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Nicky Mor­gan that the trousers were far too ex­trav­a­gant in an age of aus­ter­ity and that she (Mor­gan) pre­ferred to dress for the mar­ket in her con­stituency of Lough­bor­ough (she hits that tar­get ad­mirably), Mrs May was right in her choice of trousers. The de­signer, Amanda Wake­ley, is Bri­tish and Mrs May is al­ready rais­ing the pro­file of our ex­cel­lent fash­ion de­sign­ers. That’s what Prime Ministers do: not go to sum­mits look­ing as if wear­ing a £12.99 shift from Pri­mark.

Al­though there are quite a few women heads of state now, none, to my mind, come up to Mrs May’s stan­dard. Their cur­rent look seems to be a colour­ful jacket nipped in at the waist—when a waist is avail­able—teamed with com­pletely bland trousers or straight skirt, gen­er­ally in a con­trast­ing colour.

An­gela Merkel has made this look her own and seems com­fort­able enough in it, al­though hardly el­e­gant. Ac­tu­ally, I ad­mire her de­ter­mi­na­tion not to be pushed about by the fash­ion press. That’s her look, she ob­vi­ously likes it and, rightly, no one is go­ing to force her into leather trousers.

Ni­cola Stur­geon, on the other hand, seems to have adopted this im­age be­cause she has no fash­ion imag­i­na­tion. She al­ways looks the same: neat, not a hair out of place and com­pletely bland. Some­how, she doesn’t look like a real per­son. Con­trast with Mrs May in old jeans go­ing for a ram­ble: she looks good, she looks sen­si­bly dressed, she looks at ease.

As for Hil­lary Clin­ton, who on earth sug­gested that she would look good in a white trouser suit? Like most of us, she hasn’t the hips or charisma for it.

I know that carp­ing about their clothes is most un­fair on women —men just get into a £5,000 Sav­ile Row suit, tai­lored to hide the bulges, and no one complains of the cost or the styling. How­ever, Mrs May has not only turned out to be one of the most stylish female lead­ers around— 61-year-old Chris­tine La­garde is an­other—but has also got the supreme fash­ion au­thor­ity, Anna Win­tour, on her side.

Miss Win­tour, daugh­ter of Charles Win­tour, a past editor of the Even­ing Stan­dard, has been in charge of Amer­i­can Vogue, the most im­por­tant fash­ion mag­a­zine in the world, for nearly 30 years. She is 67 and hasn’t lost her edge for a mo­ment. At last, at last, she has been made a dame.

The Amer­i­can edi­tion of Vogue will fea­ture Mrs May in its April is­sue, pho­tographed by none other than An­nie Liebovitz, who shot The Queen for her 90th birth­day last year. It’s an­other coup for Mrs May, right on her home ground, and a wel­come boost for Bri­tain’s fash­ion de­sign­ers.

I’m look­ing for­ward to that Vogue shoot to see what our Prime Min­is­ter comes up with. Her char­ac­ter in­di­cates that she won’t step down from the leather or the leop­ard­skin kit­ten heels that have be­come her sig­na­ture. Per­haps, too, her de­ter­mi­na­tion to dress ex­actly how she wants will rub off on other female world lead­ers.

There’s plenty of in­spi­ra­tion out there: look at Sa­man­tha Cameron, who never put a high heel wrong, or Michelle Obama, who is not only stylish, but some­how ap­proach­able and friendly as well.

It’s eas­ier for these wives of the great, of course, but the in­spi­ra­tion for Prime Min­is­ter­sto-be is there for all.

‘Theresa May looks good, she looks sen­si­bly dressed, she looks at ease

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