Lara Prendergast

Theresa May’s mistake? Putting style over substance

Theresa May's mistake? Putting style over substance
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There are many lessons to learn from the utter calamity of the general election, but here is just one: be cautious of any politician who asks you to judge their ideas via their clothes. Theresa May did – and it should have been a warning sign.

As she discussed 'boy jobs and girl jobs' on The One Show, she wore pearls and a tweed jacket, to keep the Daily Mail happy. The election was announced, business-like, in a blue-and-white pinstriped power suit. She appeared in Vogue – her favourite magazine – wearing expensive leather trousers, then spent the following weeks having to defend the decision. The chainmail necklace became her talisman throughout the campaign.

Then there were the shoes. So many shoes. Kitten-heeled. Metal-toed. Leopard-skinned. Tartan. Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world. Did our Prime Minister sincerely believe that tripe?

She wore red while holding Donald Trump's hand, and then brought out the same outfit the day after the election. The perfect look to signal to the world her successful and dramatic shift into Labour's territory, her 120-strong majority, her transformation into the nation's warrior queen... Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn spent the campaign wearing his ill-fitting M&S numbers, and everyone laughed.

Theresa May’s outfits were meant to do the talking when she didn’t much fancy it. A strong-and-stable wardrobe. It was choreographed to look good in the newspapers, to prove that she had both a plan and a personality, when really, she had neither. But clothes are just clothes, and there was only so much work her style could do before voters started to ask for a bit more substance.