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From fluorescent suits to Thatcher bows – Liz Truss’s fashion journey to No 10

Britain’s new prime minister is not afraid of bright colours, which will make her fashion as interesting to watch as her politics.

September 6, 2022
By Max McLean and Danielle Desouza
6 September 2022

Liz Truss’ journey from Liberal Democrat speech-maker to UK 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.

Then Chief Secretary to the Treasury Elizabeth Truss arrives in Downing Street, London, for a Cabinet meeting, in 2018
Then-chief secretary to the Treasury Elizabeth Truss arrives in Downing Street for a Cabinet meeting in 2018. (David Mirzoeff/PA)

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

While waiting to give her winning speech, her purple dress 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.

Conservative leadership bid
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London as the winner of the Conservative leadership contest was announced. (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

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.

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

Liz Truss leaves after a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, London, in 2019
Truss leaves No 10 after a Cabinet meeting in 2019. (Victoria Jones/PA)

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 Justice Secretary Liz Truss walks through Downing Street, in 2016
Then-justice secretary Truss walks through Downing Street in 2016. (David Mirzoeff/PA)

Her style has taken on 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 coat, shirt, trousers and matching bag – which she wore to a cabinet meeting in September 2019.

Then International Trade Secretary Liz Truss arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, London, in 2019
The then-international trade secretary in 2019. (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Truss will not be the first female prime minister 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.

However, the intensity of the spotlight may take some getting used to, with one such instance occurring during the Tory leadership race when Truss’ clothing choice went viral.

Conservative party leadership contender Liz Truss arrives at Here East studios in Stratford, east London, before the live television debate for the candidates for leadership of the Conservative party, hosted by Channel 4, in July 2022
Truss arrives at Here East studios in Stratford, east London, before the live Conservative Party leadership debate in July. (Victoria Jones/PA)

When the former environment secretary appeared in a Tory leadership debate in July, Twitter users were quick to point out she had donned an outfit that was strikingly similar to something Margaret Thatcher wore in a 1979 election broadcast – a black blazer and white blouse with a large bow.

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

She told 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.”

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