The gloves are on: Theresa May's latest fashion statement

If Theresa May’s recent political style could be described as chaotic, myopic and inconsistent, her fashion style has been a little easier to gauge.

Witness her look this week: a two-layered coat, some statement necklaces and, most importantly, several pairs of leather gloves.

May’s gloves are the short, driving kind, and came in fawn (worn to the Commonwealth Day service), black or black with studs. On the one hand, they are the perfect transitional accessory; on the other, a paradoxical addition to the prime minister’s armoury given they have become popular across the board.

They appeared on the autumn catwalks at Shrimps, Richard Quinn, Erdem and Off White; on the model Gigi Hadid, who wore opera gloves for half of Paris fashion week; and finally, on the BBC Newsnight reporter Emily Maitlis, who wore a pair while writing at speed, and rolling her eyes, during Brexit reporting outside parliament on Tuesday night. On the high street, too, leather driving clothes have just gone in-store as part of the new season at & Other Stories and Asos.

What does ​Emily Maitlis’s Brexit eye-roll really mean? – video

The leather goods market is one of fashion’s fastest-growing sectors and is expected to reach almost £475bn globally by 2025. Last year Louis Vuitton, a label whose profits are rooted in leather and who featured gloves on their AW19 catwalk, opened two workshops in France to keep up with demand. And just last week, an exhibition opened at the Fashion Museum Bath which aims to highlight the role, rise and decline of gloves in fashion history, and includes a pair of 19th-century Limerick gloves worn by Queen Victoria.

“Maybe they are a protection that make her feel safer from the outside world and ready to fight,” said Patrick Fagan, a consumer psychologist at Goldsmiths University. Even if May’s politics are off-point, her accessorising is anything but.


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