Style

Margaret Thatcher’s 6 Most Famous Style Rules

Big hair, pearls and pussy-bow blouses: among the signature ways she emboldened her Marks & Spencer-style twinsets.

MICHEL GANGNE / Getty Images

Of the many things recently-deceased former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is to be remembered for, her sense of style is not likely to be up there. And that’s a shame. In the context of her political achievements, a crisp pearl necklace might seem trivial, but as a figurehead judged fiercely on her appearance throughout her time in power, the fashion rules she held tight warrant some note.

From the early stages of her political career through her final days in 10 Downing Street, Mrs. T retained a poised, matronly and very middle-class aesthetic that was key both to her appeal and, some would say, her intimidation factor. Her boxy Marks & Spencer-esque twinsets may have changed, but her accessories didn’t — and her love of big hair, big lapels, and big, glossy pearl earrings became semiotic hallmarks, however anti-fashion they arguably were. She was never one to turn down the chance to wear a bold, printed polyester blouse with a flouncy bow at the neckline either, that’s for sure.

Big Hair


Perhaps the most immediately recognizable Thatcher style trope, hers was a blowout seemingly crafted from iron just as strong as the rest of her.

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(Not actually her hairbrush.)

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Big Jewelry


Oysters may have disliked her almost as much as the miners — rarely was Thatcher spotted without her pearls.

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Big Pussy-Bows


Thatcher liked a busy neckline.

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This photo-op actually happened.

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No slideshow featuring British people is complete without a tea tasting.

Big Shoulders


A sign of the power-suited times, sure, but also a clear indication she’d be comfortable carrying her country’s problems on her shoulderpads.

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Bonus tea!

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Big Hats


Only for the appropriately over-formal outdoor occasions, of course.

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Also featuring one sassy Chelsea pensioner.

Big Prints


Simultaneously bold and mumsy designs; ’80s librarian realness.

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Bonus blowout-admiring-monkey!

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Also, Some Bonus Big Guide Dogs


Not a trend at all, just a nice photo to finish on.

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