May wore a pair of leopard print kitten heels the working day she delivered a landmark 2002 political speech–and on the working day she found out she was going to become Britain’s prime minister.”>
It was in 2002 that Theresa May, Britains now-soon-to-be-PM, wore a pair of leopard-print kitten heel shoes that speedily became the most famous footwear in British politics.
Was said kitten heels predominance to political infamy an example of sexism? In a style, yes.
They are, after all, a pair of shoesand it is unlikely a male politician would be in any way defined by what he wore unless it was awfully outrageous. Unlikely, but not unknown: in 1981 the beleaguered Labour leader Michael Foot was chastised for wearing a donkey coat to that years Remembrance Day ceremony. It subsequently emerged the coat was not a donkey coat, but the sartorial damage was done.
Unfortunately for him, at the advent of an era of focusing on how politicians looked, Foot made anything he wore seem shambolic.
Mays leopard print heels were not outrageous, they just seemed to be uncharacteristically trendy footwear for a then-chairman of the Conservative Party.
The speech at that years party seminar which May wore them was in its own style a landmark, in which May rounded on the perception of the Tory party itself as nasty. May wanted a softer, more all-inclusive image, and position to go along with ita marked shifting in tone and policies. And so a landmark speech became defined by a landmark pair of shoes, the first sign of May distinguishing herself, of playing tough, telling it like it is to an audience who are not able want to hear itbut hear it they shall.
Perhaps it was leopard print fate, then, that dictated that on Monday, when May not only abruptly became the leader of the Party, following Andrea Leadsoms withdrawal from the leadership contest, but also the incipient “ministers “, that she again was wearing a pair of kitten heels with yes, a leopard print design. More subtle than 2002, but still there.
Ever since 2002, Mays shoes have inevitably aroused commentespecially a pair of black patent leather boots she wore to meet the queen once. Last week went more leopard print kitten heels and a pair of flats with lips printed on them.
Mays fashion flag, such as it is, is worn separately and proudly, with a present absence of sartorial homogeneity exhibited by the queen, and Mays sole-other-female prime ministerial predecessor, Margaret Thatcher, who shared the same signature accessory: a compact handbag, worn on the crook of the arm.
Thatchers formidable political jousting even gave rise to the word handbagginganother sexist word to mean a female politician rounding on a male one.
Mays footwear isnt so obviously loaded with symbolism, except the original kitten heels and todays, speak of an individual not afraid to stand out, but not stand out too scarilya clue of amaze, but not enough to frighten the more conservative voters of Middle England; a subtle clue of headmistress and dominatrix to make all those Tory upper- and middle-class voters a little frisky.
Mays voting record reflects the slightly risqu, slightly not, of those 2002 shoesiron-rod conservative on matters of law and order, and fighting terrorism, while progressive on social issues like marriage equality.
If we read subtle leopard print as a barometer of Theresa Mays canniness, what to stimulate of Angela Eagles detonation of pink at the launch of her campaign to be Labour leader, including information on Monday? On Twitter, one user said it was like the event had been sponsored by Rimmel London.
The pink here was supposed to connote warmth and inclusion, along with Eagles open chat-show friendly smile, and the Angela emblazoned across the set, like a daytime talk showa welcome-all inference sorely lacking, at the least visually, in the fraught leadership style of the dourly garmented and expressioned Jeremy Corbyn, whom Eagle is seeking to supplant.
Can you read a lot by a pair of someones shoes, or anothers lushly pink stage design? Probably not: theyre ultimately as disclosing as a certain other political power players pantsuits. But Hillary Clinton knew how to play on the symbolism of those pantsuits, eventually building them( pantsuit aficionado) part of her Twitter bio.