Politically authentic: literal dressing in politics

25.7.17


Politicians are not usually literal and in the age of spin and social media, it can be hard to decipher what is actually being said.

That's why literal dressing is so interesting and a handy way to read the minds and moods of our political figures.

Theresa May is one particular literal dresser. Known for her love of Amanda Wakeley, Escada and Russell & Bromley, May's sophisticated wardrobe can often be very literal. When visiting Wales, May often wears red, the bright hue referencing the fierce flag of the Celtic nation. And on her trips to Scotland, May subtly finds a way to merge the union into her outfit. Her wide ranging repertoire of navy pieces are frequently reserved for appearances as Conservative leader or when she is on the world stage as Prime Minister. The classic colour projects confidence and leadership - she's literally showing that she is in charge.


The bright blue Daniel Blake Orchid jacket and matching skirt is one example of this, and May has worn the suit on her return to Downing Street, for G20 meetings and PMQs. May also wore red and white to welcome the Japanese Prime Minister to Chequers.



May's Amanda Wakeley coat and dress that she wore to enter Downing Street in July 2016 is perhaps one of her most literal outfits, the neon flash of yellow projecting a new, bright change. And more recently, the acid green jacket May teamed with a black, white and green dress to Wimbledon neatly echoed the neat and fresh manicured lawns of the All England Tennis Club.


We also see May go literal in her choice of shoes. The Charlize steel toe pumps from Russell & Bromley were perhaps selected to project strength and her iron will, and the leopard kitten heels to show her fierce sense of style are just two of many examples that spring to mind.


Other politicians have also picked up on the power of literal dressing. Andrea Leadsom often dons a bright blue suit and a magenta top, perhaps a subtle nod to the UK flag. And she recently wore a vivid orange shift dress, with some commenting this was in reference to the recent UK Government agreement with the DUP.


Amber Rudd is also a literal dresser, with her black knee length coat with white piping detail a subtle reference to police uniforms and her responsibility for policing as Home Secretary.


It's not just our politicians who are in on the act. The Duchess of Cambridge is a fan of going literal, wearing a floral Rochas dress to the Chelsea Flower Show and a nautical themed Alexander McQueen dress with epaulettes to a sailing educational centre in Portsmouth. And of course, the Queen has been doing literal dressing for years.

So how can we embrace the literal way of dressing?

  • Pick out subtle references to your destination or event in your outfit. Accessories are an easy and fun way to go with a theme or feeling.
  • Select colours to show favour with your hosts- tapping into national colours is a great way to do this
  • If you're not feeling too brave to be 100% literal, experimenting with nail polish is a fun and cheap way to embrace this trend
  • Christmas is perhaps the best time of year to go literal- go glitzy or go home!
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