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Margaret Thatcher’s suits fetch £73,000 at auction

Extraordinary sale price confirms the power dresser’s weight on the sartorial stage.

Seven suits worn by Margaret Thatcher in the 1970s fetched just over £73,000 at Christie’s auction house this week. Individual items - including a jade green wool suit worn by Thatcher on the day she was confirmed party leader in 1975, and a yellow dress worn at a party conference the same year - sold for up to £25,000.

Several other suits were worn during important radio and television appearances, including a peach ensemble donned for a BBC Analysis programme on “the importance of cleansing and moisturising” and a navy number worn for an episode of the classic 70s series “Val Meets the VIPs”.

The final selling price - far exceeding estimates (they were originally appraised at £1,000 - £1,500 each) - was allegedly the result of a “fierce” bidding war. It’s a dizzying figure, though perhaps no landslide when shelved against fashion heavyweights (Christie’s once auctioned off a ballgown worn by Princess Diana to a White House fête for £510,000). Regardless, the results surely signal a revived appreciation for the political sartorialist; a style icon in her own right, whose classic coiffed and pearled combo still echo in the halls of parliamentary memory.

Mhairi Graham, in a column for yesterday’s AnOther Magazine, called the Iron Lady “a colour blocking maverick” and “the ultimate power dresser”:

“Teamed with her signature pearls (given to her by husband Denis), she fashioned herself a uniform, while still retaining a sense of femininity. Although her clothing was never fashionable as such, she has become a sartorial genre in herself. Her pussybow blouses, statement pearl earrings and coordinating suits are used as a reference point and an iconographic milestone within the twentieth century, representing not only fashion but cultural and political values.”

Certainly, someone agrees – two anonymous bidders (one based in Korea) will share the pricey bounty.


Margaret Thatcher - A lesson in power dressing:


(On the front bench in 1970. PHOTO: Vogue)


(At the King's Road polling station, 1975. PHOTO: Vouge)


(At a party conference, 1970. PHOTO: Vogue)


(At a pro-market rally, 1975. PHOTO: Vogue)


(At 10 Downing Street after being named Prime Minister, 1979. PHOTO: Vogue)


(On an official visit to China, 1982. PHOTO: Vogue)

Charlotte Simmonds is a writer and blogger living in London. She was formerly an editorial assistant at the New Statesman. You can follow her on Twitter @thesmallgalleon.