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Conservative party leadership contender Liz Truss channels Margaret Thatcher on the campaign trail. Photo: Getty Images

Did Liz Truss’ Thatcher bows help her win UK prime minister vote? Her fashion choices, from colourful dresses to fluorescent suits

  • UK Prime Minister Liz Truss has been known for her fashion sense, including the purple dress she wore for her victory speech, similar to one of Michelle Obama’s
  • Whether taking inspiration from Margaret Thatcher or donning bright high-street styles, some say Truss’ fashion choices have played a part in her success

Liz Truss’ journey from Liberal Democrat speechmaker to Conservative prime minister has involved a number of eye-catching moments, not least the colourful outfits she has worn.

Whether standing on a podium, striding to and from 10 Downing Street, or hitting the campaign trail, the latest UK leader has made a name for herself with a number of striking ensembles.

Truss beat Rishi Sunak to the Tory leadership with 81,326 votes to 60,399 among Conservative Party members on September 5, and has promised a “bold plan” to cut taxes and grow the economy.

While she was waiting to give her winning speech, the purple dress the politician wore matched the purple seats at the venue, but perhaps more notably mirrored the plum attire of former American first lady Michelle Obama, and the purple dress coat of US Vice-President Kamala Harris at Joe Biden’s inauguration in 2021.

Liz Truss in a purple dress after winning the Conservative Party leadership. Photo: EPA-EFE
Former US president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama arrive for Joe Biden’s inauguration. Michelle Obama wore a plum coat. Photo: Pool/AFP
US Vice-President Kamala Harris in purple. Photo: AFP

An article in fashion outlet Grazia noted: “Could Liz Truss have been subtly aligning herself with the likes of such seasoned power players? Possibly.”

Meanwhile, New York Times chief fashion critic Vanessa Friedman pointed to Sunak’s high-end attire against the high-street nature of Truss’ outfits as a key battleground in the race to the top.

Liz Truss (left) beat Rishi Sunak in the race to become prime minister. Experts say Truss’ choice of clothing during the campaign may have been instrumental to her success. Photo: TNS

“What the candidates wore came to symbolise the differences between the two as much as anything they said on the campaign trail,” Friedman wrote.

External commentary on her fashion choices will be nothing new to the South West Norfolk MP.

During her ministerial years, the outfits Truss has worn, which include colourful blazers, tartan culottes and fluorescent suits, have been scrutinised in the press and online.

Then chief secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, London,in head-to-toe fluorescent pink. Photo: David Mirzoeff/PA Images via Getty Images
Liz Truss (left) wore a bright-red blazer while accompanying former prime minister Boris Johnson to a summit on Russia in March 2022. Photo: AP

Her style has taken many shapes and forms on her various trips to cabinet meetings – from a standard dress and blazer combination in July 2014, when she was appointed environment secretary, to a buttoned-up black coat and boots with matching hat in 2016.

One of her most striking outfits was a bright pink suit – including jacket, blouse, trousers and matching bag – which she wore to a cabinet meeting in September 2019.

Truss will not be the first female prime minister in Britain to receive attention for her style – Theresa May was constantly linked to leopard print, which she wore in the form of a pair of heels.

Truss’ colourful fashion choices have attracted the attention of the press throughout her ministerial career. Photo: AP
Margaret Thatcher wore a pussy bow to launch the Conservative Party’s election campaign in 1979. Photo: Bettman Archive

One particularly viral fashion moment came for Truss during the Tory leadership debate in July, when she wore a black blazer and white blouse with a large bow. Twitter users were quick to point out that this outfit was strikingly similar to something Margaret Thatcher wore in a 1979 election broadcast.

Truss subsequently hit out at comparisons to Thatcher, who died in 2013, calling them frustrating.

She told British news outlet GB News: “It is quite frustrating that female politicians always get compared to Margaret Thatcher, whereas male politicians don’t get compared to Ted Heath.”

Liz Truss (right) has donned more than one outfit that resembles something once worn by the late Margaret Thatcher. Photo: AFP