How Theresa May is using her US Vogue fashion shoot to open up to a new audience

The way in which women dress is regularly subject to intense scrutiny with judgements and assumptions being made about an outfit choice rather than ability.

May has made a bold move to speak to a new audience with her Vogue fashion shoot, argues Shelley Frosdick
May has made a bold move to speak to a new audience with her Vogue fashion shoot, argues Shelley Frosdick

Long before ‘leather trouser gate’, Theresa May would have no doubt been aware of the public’s fascination with her outfit choices, and becoming Prime Minister has meant that whether we like it or not, her sartorial choices are high up the news agenda.

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Embracing this intrigue into her wardrobe, May is using her own unique style to her advantage.

May at her stylish best, statement shoes and cigarette trousers, presents a woman of course dressing to look good, but also one that by no means relies or wants just her shoes to do the talking.

She stands proud in pointed patent brogues, leopard-print wellingtons and androgynous tartan suits, and she is rightfully unapologetic about it.

This is her uniform that she wears to get a job done.

May is using fashion to express a sense of individuality in a sea of middle-aged men in grey suits that all look the same. She represents a refreshing alternative.

Having always been unafraid to admit to her love of fashion and subscription to Vogue magazine, it’s no wonder then that May took part in the US Vogue photo shoot and interview.

As we have seen across the years with other women from the world of politics, including Margaret Thatcher, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, this less-than-traditional partnership has mutual benefits for both Vogue and the individual.

Most obviously for May, it provides a platform to speak with a largely female audience, many of whom are disillusioned with the male-dominated world of politics and looking for a different take, and a different way to be spoken to.

It also shows May’s acknowledgement of the significance of the fashion industry, which is big business and makes a serious contribution to the economy.

Aside from the added publicity for Vogue, and addressing the perception that they aren’t just a fashion magazine, the collaboration has allowed, and will continue to allow, both to speak to new audiences.

May’s decision also has the potential to engage perhaps a less Conservative-friendly audience in the liberal millennials; the segment of society that overwhelmingly voted to remain and one that May certainly needs to appeal to.

Their opinions matter and many feel ignored.

To talk to them via a different medium demonstrates a want to listen, and a want to engage outside of the normal channels.

May wants to listen and be heard, and she is keen to find new ways to do both.

Theresa May is bolstering her brand with statement accessories and shoes that have become the talk of the town.

As a female role model to so many, May will likely be hoping that her use of fashion will attract others to her cause and to engage with her.

Failing that, at least we’ll have a splash of style in the House of Commons, aside from the red ties of course.

Shelley Frosdick is director of consumer PR at PHA Media


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