Power dressers: A look at political image-making double acts


Amber RuddGETTY

BEFORE AND AFTER: Amber Rudd now has Isabel Spearman’s help

Amber Rudd is said to be the latest to have hired a style guru, enlisting the same wardrobe expert who gave Samantha Cameron a makeover.

The Home Secretary is reported to have recruited Isabel Spearman to help with her outfits and the ex-PR is credited with masterminding Ms Rudd’s often quirky new look.

Think hipster trainers, funky spectacles and bold splashes of colour, in a move that’s said to be aimed at attracting younger voters and could be the launch pad for an eventual leadership challenge.

Here we look at other politicians and the power dressers they sought out to transform their image.

THERESA MAY AND LIZ SANDERSON

The former journalist is credited with helping the Prime Minister soften her image. Sanderson, who revealed in 2013 that Mrs May suffers from diabetes, is said to have helped place her boss on the cover of US Vogue magazine. It is all part of a campaign to make the PM, who has a reputation for being rather aloof, seem more personable.

Sanderson will also offer style tips although the PM, who is a lover of fashion and shoes in particular, is said to choose most of her outfits personally.

She said in 2009: “It is quite widely known that I like shoes. This is not something that defines me as either a woman or a politician.”

However her disastrous choice of a pair of £995 leather trousers for a 2016 photoshoot is said to have been down to former aide Fiona Hill. And it is unlikely you will now see Mrs May, whose early preference for bold patterns, has now been replaced by a professional wardrobe of black, navy and pastel shades, revealing so much flesh as when she went strapless at a 2013 banquet.

George OsborneGETTY

BEFORE AND AFTER: Thea Rodgers is credited with changing George Osborne’s haircut to a ‘Caesar’’

GEORGE OSBORNE AND THEA ROGERS

The former BBC producer was enlisted by Osborne when he was chancellor to give his image a shake-up.

She is credited with being the brains behind his “Caesar-style” cropped haircut, replacing his old barnet which was likened to an “18th-century dandy”.

Rogers, who once dated a Labour Cabinet minister, also encouraged Osborne to slim down by using the trendy 5:2 diet. “In this day and age you have to make sure the visual image on television conveys the economic policy you are trying to project,” said the politician, explaining his fresh appearance.

Osborne was often seen out and about in hi-vis jackets and work wear, mucking in on tasks such as dry-stone walling to demonstrate that he was a hands-on type of guy. T

he spin-doctor is even said to have changed the way he smiled. Sadly the public never really warmed to the chancellor and he was booed at the London Paralympics.

Margaret ThatcherGETTY

BEFORE AND AFTER: Margaret Thatcher opted for fashion guidance from Margaret King

MARGARET THATCHER and MARGARET KING

Most of her male predecessors didn’t really give two hoots about how they looked but back in the 1980s Mrs T was all too aware of the importance of image.

The Iron Lady, who wanted to be regarded as someone not to be messed with, opted for fashion guidance from Margaret King, a director of the luxury clothing brand Aquascutum whom she had met shortly after becoming prime minister when she went to King’s store to buy a new coat.

King persuaded Mrs Thatcher to ditch frumpy frocks, pussy bows and large hats in favour of elegant but business-like skirt suits.

However her client refused to get rid of her pearls which were a gift from husband Denis. The two Margarets collaborated for two decades and King is also credited with choosing many of the handbags that became the mainstay of the Tory PM’s signature look.

Mrs Thatcher was also encouraged to hold her head higher while walking to eliminate her previous, slightly stooped look. So successful was the change that she appeared on the international best-dressed list in 1988 and her wardrobe rivalled that of Princess Diana for attention. 

Robin CookPA/STEVE REIGATE

BEFORE AND AFTER: Robin Cook took Barbara Follett’s advice to look more sleek and electable

ROBIN COOK AND BARBARA FOLLETT

Image queen “Barbie” was brought in to give New Labour a revamp in the early 1990s.

The term “Folleting” was coined to describe the way in which Labour politicians were transformed on her watch as she strived to turn the party away from its old donkey-jacket image under the sartorially challenged Michael Foot to something more sleek and electable.

One of her subjects was Blair’s bearded foreign secretary Robin Cook. Unfortunately the fashion choices of Follett became something of a sideshow shortly after Labour took power in 1997 when Cook, who died in 2005, was caught out having a marital affair and announced he was leaving his wife.

TONY BLAIR AND CAROLE CAPLIN

Rather than focus solely on fashion, the Labour PM and his barrister wife Cherie opted for an entire lifestyle makeover.

Carole Caplin, who ostensibly advised Tony on fitness and Mrs Blair on her wardrobe, became a controversial figure for the influence she wielded over the couple and her links to a convicted con man.

Glamorous Caplin was initially hired by Mrs Blair in the mid-90s to “remake her image, get fit, look good and carry herself like the well-known figure she was becoming”.

When Mr Blair later took New Labour to power he also asked for style advice and Caplin, a former dancer, devised fitness programmes to keep him in shape. She is also said to have approved a change in his hairstyle, from bouffant to more clipped, after focus groups said they didn’t like the old look.

Mr Blair, who was kitted out by Los Angeles tailor Malcolm Levene, was the first PM to be seen wearing trendy casual clothes. This was not by chance and was said to demonstrate that he was young, stylish and open to change.



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