19 April 2018

Did Margaret Thatcher Influence The Shoulder Pads Trend? Er, No, Actually...

Phil writes to say:

I've been reading on line that Margaret Thatcher, UK Prime Minister from May 1979 to November 1990, influenced the trend for huge shoulder pads. Did she? Was she the original power dresser?

No, Phil. Piffle and bunk on-line we're afraid.

Power dressing was a trend Margaret Thatcher followed in the 1980s, but did not help to create. The jacket she wore after her first general election win in May 1979 illustrates this. It is simply a neatly tailored blue jacket, with totally non-excessive shoulders. It was a boring garment in 1979 - and would even have been boring in 1969. As the 1980s wore on, Thatcher simply adopted the fashion of that time. Compare her neatly tailored and somewhat timeless look of 1979 (top) and her whopper shoulders of 1987 (bottom) for details.

Cynthia Crawford, Thatcher's personal assistant who was responsible for seeing she was smartly dressed and groomed, stated in 2013:

'In 1987 she was going to Russia for the first time and I had seen a wonderful coat in Aquascutum's window and I went to get it. A lot of her clothes up until that time had been homemade by a lady. She made all those dresses and blouses with bows and things. Mrs Thatcher went to Russia and she looked absolutely fabulous. I said to her: "If you are going to fight an election in June, why don't we ask Aquascutum to make you up some working suits." She agreed, so we ordered these suits. It was when the power shoulders were in and it just revolutionised her. She looked fantastic. She enjoyed all the new outfits and got away from the dresses. She never wears trousers, not even today. She always likes formal clothes, even at home. She hasn't got a lot of casual clothes.'

Thatcher was a follower, not an innovator, as far as fashion was concerned. I don't recall anybody wanting to look like her. The handbag, for a start, was so naff!

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