Margaret Thatcher, Dress and the Politics of Fashion
This article explores and conceptualises the roles of dress in Margaret Thatcher's political life and the intersections between the micro and macro politics of dress and identity. Feminist literature on women and politics considers media focus on dress to marginalise and destabilise women's agency. The analysis of Margaret Thatcher and dress refines, develops and makes problematic this contention. Dress was both constraining and enabling for Thatcher and she demonstrated varying levels of agency. Thatcher drew from cultural and socio-economic resources from her upbringing and performed class, gender and embodied tropes of Britishness for multiple audiences. Thatcher moved beyond the classed and gendered constraints of her background, learned and adapted her dress to suit the political occasion and sought to include dress as a legitimate political concern. Nevertheless, Thatcher's dressed performances were perpetually contingent on how these performances were received by various audiences and also upon broader political dynamics.