Fashion

Dressing the Iron Lady

Margaret Thatcher may not be known for her fashion credentials, but her look certainly made a statement in Parliament.

That's why translating the Iron Lady to the big screen was always going to be tricky. Everything, from her pussybow blouses to her famous structured handbags, needed to be perfect for Meryl Streep's Thatcher to convince.

Luckily, The Iron Lady (in cinemas from tomorrow) captures Thatcher's style perfectly, as these sketches from costume designer Consolata Boyle show. Notching up Academy® and BAFTA nominations for her work on The Queen (in which she captured our monarch's style with aplomb), Boyle was an obvious choice for director Phyllida Lloyd, who said she had "an extraordinary vision for how to not just replicate but to make some poetic sense of the journey of her clothes". Scroll down to see just how she envisioned Thatcher's look.

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Consolata looked at photos and newsreels from the 1970s and 1980s, using a magnifying glass to study the clothes - the picture above shows the pleated skirt, peter pan collar and suit jacket she wore on her election in 1979.

Director Phyllida Lloyd says of Maggie's 'blue' wardrobe:

"You see a colour palette of young Margaret in beautiful blue silk, you see her at the opera with Denis, and when she goes to dine with the Dartford Conservative Association, and gradually that pale blue colour becomes a little darker when you see Margaret with Gordon Reece and Airey Neave, and then gradually when you see her become party leader you’re getting more royal blue."

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An early adopter of power dressing, Thatcher understood the power of mixing femininity and masculinity to powerful effect, and never underestimated grooming - as photos of her immaculate hair show. Personal touches, like a necklace and jewelled bangle from her husband Denis, also showed a softer side. In the film, her wardrobe also changes as her role is challenged. Phyllida says:

"She enters a world of purples and tweeds around the Falklands. Then you see her suddenly at that Cabinet table with Geoffrey Howe, and she’s wearing red, and on some subliminal level this tells you that something is wrong. When she leaves Downing Street in that red suit, to the sound of Bellini’s Casta Diva, you feel she has become a tragic heroine in an opera".

See Meryl Streep (and her wardrobe) in action. Watch the trailer for The Iron Lady here.

The Iron Lady is out Friday 6 January.