LONDON — Britain’s new prime minister? Or fashion influencer?
The newly elected Liz Truss, whose appointment as British prime minister was approved Tuesday by Queen Elizabeth II, takes her fashion and personal style seriously and never misses an opportunity to be snapped just like a street-style influencer.
Truss doesn’t use social media platforms to relay political messages only — she uses it to show a glimpse into her inner circles. And she never misses a photo opportunity. Pull up her Instagram right now — @elizabeth.truss.mp — and there she is with Nancy Pelosi, Boris Johnson, Justin Trudeau and numerous other foreign ministers from around the globe.
Until now, no British politician has glamorized their public role as much as Truss, who served as Britain’s foreign minister in Johnson’s cabinet. She’s often pictured strolling around government buildings, and city squares around the world, dressed in bold, primary colors as if to say, “My life’s a rainbow!”
She loves posed shots, candid ones and selfies with celebrities such as Taylor Swift. Sometimes, she’s pictured toasting with a pint of beer or glass of Champagne in hand; other times she’s holding a trade of just-baked cookies.
Her captions are another spectacle. One from 2018 reads: “Handling a red folder [of government work], and curating your Insta is tricky dontchaknow…#pappedintheact #downingstreetdrama.” The picture shows her wearing sunglasses, and juggling her phone and the red folder.
Not everyone loves the way she dresses, but she’s known as the “stylish” one within the Conservative Party, which is known for its fuddy-duddy dressers.
Truss’ idea of power dressing belongs to a generation that adhered to stiff silhouettes, block colors and short, neat, blond suburban mum hairstyles. It’s no secret that Truss has been modeling herself after Margaret Thatcher, whose wardrobe was packed with sensible British-made clothing and who became synonymous with her own shade, Thatcher Blue, and ever-present handbag.
Truss favors British high street labels and outfits that are worlds away from the minimally sleek and corporate uniforms of her colleagues.
One of her friends, and a fellow Conservative member of parliament, Nadine Dorries, 65, praised her for wearing earrings that cost 4.50 pounds from Claire Accessories, a high street chain. She wanted to emphasize that Truss is one with middle Britain, and knows how to dress on a budget.
Dorries also wanted to cast Truss as more virtuous than her main rival Rishi Sunak, who favors bespoke tailoring from London brand Henry Herbert, and loves expensive footwear. He’s been pictured in Prada shoes, Palm Angels sliders, Gucci and Common Projects trainers.
Some could argue that Sunak lost the election because of his family’s wealth, and his weakness for luxury brands.
One of Truss’ favorite brands is Karen Millen, which is now owned by British fast-fashion retailer Boohoo Group.
At the BBC Leadership debate last July, Truss wore a deep blue Karen Millen bodycon dress and has previously worn similar outfits in shades such as deep purple or dark green. The dark green pencil style is named the Forever Dress, and retails for 180 pounds on the brand’s site, with Elizabeth Hurley modeling it.
During her acceptance speech on Monday, Truss wore a deep purple dress by the brand Winser London, which was founded by Kim Winser, the former chief executive officer of Pringle and Aquascutum. The dress is priced at 185 pounds and the Winser website describes it as “a power dress with plenty of body-con wow factor.”
One of Truss’ favorite suits is an acid Barbie pink two-piece number with a matching shirt. She wore the Zara coordinated outfit in a You Magazine shoot in 2019, and the look has made numerous appearances on her Instagram.
Now that she’s prime minister she’ll undoubtedly want to shift the photo ops, and peacock looks, into high gear. She’s already said to be angling for a Vogue interview.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, was quoted as saying earlier this summer that Truss asked her for advice about getting into Vogue.
“I remember it quite well, actually,” said Sturgeon, who was speaking at an event in Edinburgh. “I’d just been interviewed by Vogue…and that was the main thing she wanted to talk to me about. She wanted to know how she could get into Vogue.” Sturgeon replied with a terse: “They came and asked me.”
It has become a rite of passage for politicians to appear in glossy magazines.
Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May sat for an interview and portrait by Annie Leibovitz in American Vogue in 2017. May opened up about her fashion choices that had garnered public attention, from leather trousers to leopard print shoes.
“Look, throughout my political career, people have commented on what I wear. That’s just something that happens, and you accept that. But it doesn’t stop me from going out and enjoying fashion. And I also think it’s important to be able to show that a woman can do a job like this and still be interested in clothes,” May told the magazine.
If Truss wants to make the same sartorial impact as Thatcher and May, she will need to make space in her cabinet for an image-maker, the same way recent prime ministers have done.
When David Cameron became prime minister in 2010, he hired a team of personal image creators: photographer Andrew Parsons and camerawoman Nicky Woodhouse to document his time at Downing Street. The public quickly became aware of Cameron’s staff hire and he quickly removed them from the public payroll and placed them on the Conservative Party’s account.
The U.K. is home to outstanding fashion talent within the industry, from Sarah Burton at McQueen to Stella McCartney to Paul Smith — and it’s only right that those on the biggest political stage support homegrown designers the same way the Americans, French and Italians do.