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'The Iron Lady': The making of Margaret Thatcher's wardrobe

03 JANUARY 2012 Margaret Thatcher was one of the first women to perfect the art of power dressing.

Pioneering the “shoulder to shoulder with men” look of skirt suits featuring broad, padded shoulders and her famous handbag which became a metaphorical weapon, the former Prime Minister stood out for her style choices.

She stepped down from her three-term reign in 1990, but the stateswoman is now set to make a comeback in the form of Phyllida Lloyd’s film The Iron Lady starring Meryl Streep.


 



The biopic charts Baroness Thatcher’s rise from grocer’s daughter to the country’s first female premier and her gradual, tragic descent into dementia.

Meryl’s performance has already been hailed worthy of an Oscar and the film has generated quite a buzz.

Its careful costume choices, for which designer Consolata Boyle was responsible, add to its authenticity and visual power.

Despite her penchant for power dressing, Margaret loved pussybows, something she admitted she was “often caricatured for”.








They feature heavily in the film, paired with her trademark navy suits and the black Asprey handbag that was her trusty companion for decades, a bag that sold earlier this year at Christie’s for £25,000 (pictured below).

Consolata, who was previously nominated for Oscar and Bafta awards for her work on The Queen, describes the leader's image as “fascinating”.

In order to design the costumes from scratch, she immersed herself in research, analysing a catalogue of photographs that illustrated the subtle sartorial shifts accompanying her career progression.

She also poured over patterns and pieces from Aquascutum and Jean Muir.







Consolata says she remains intrigued by “what gave her such single-mindedness, and her innate style, yet also the ambition to develop the look, in the pursuit of success”.

The film highlights the fact that the Iron Lady's style was not entirely self-created, but evolved with the input of her image advisers.

“The star-makers may have told her what to wear, but she already knew how to dress,” Abi Morgan, the scriptwriter for The Iron Lady, told the Telegraph.

She was of that generation of women trained to appear in a certain way, hair set, with a proper hat, gloves, bag and shoes.

“The grooming was very regal, and her uniform had a regality about it.

"And don't forget, she'd grown up at the front of the shop, dressed for work, never in anything less formal than a twinset – and certainly never in trousers.”

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