In politics, as in all spheres of life, women’s clothes are scrutinised far more than those of their male counterparts. Theresa May knows this better than anyone – and she consistently manipulates it to her advantage. Her much-publicised podiatric odyssey, which began with those leopard-print kitten heels she wore to deliver her 2002 Conservative Party conference speech, is a deftly deployed personality-sweetener. It goes without saying that a woman should not be solely judged on the cut of her hair or the distance between her skirt and her knees. But May knows that converting political apathy into a blue vote might be as simple as wearing a pair of sparkly-heeled shoes with a velvet bow. She even claimed last night that her shoes had inspired a young woman she met in the House of Commons lift to enter politics.
Consider those shoes a key strand of her “strong and stable” wardrobe. Viewers had to wait 19 minutes last night to hear the prime minister utter the groan-inducing phrase she seems to trundle out at least 537 times a day (for the statisticians, BuzzFeed have been counting, and in one speech in Bolton at the end of April May repeated the phrase 12 times) but fashion watchers will know she’s been saying it wordlessly for months. Here, Vogue charts the foundations of May’s strong and stable image.