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Sapphire Blue

Suit
early 1987 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Skirt suit in royal blue wool woven with a rippled, ribbed texture. The jacket has shoulder pads and is cut relatively straight, with slight shaping at the waist, two patch pockets in the front. Front and cuff buttons of blue and gold plastic. Matching pencil skirt. Both garments lined with acetate. The matching silk blouse has a jacquard woven design of leaves in a tone-on-tone design and ties at the throat in a pussy bow.

Object details

Categories
Object type
Parts
This object consists of 3 parts.

  • Jacket
  • Skirt
  • Blouse
TitleSapphire Blue (popular title)
Materials and techniques
wool, acetate, jacquard woven silk.
Brief description
Aquascutum, 1987. Royal blue textured wool jacket and skirt with co-ordinating Jacquard weave silk blouse.
Physical description
Skirt suit in royal blue wool woven with a rippled, ribbed texture. The jacket has shoulder pads and is cut relatively straight, with slight shaping at the waist, two patch pockets in the front. Front and cuff buttons of blue and gold plastic. Matching pencil skirt. Both garments lined with acetate. The matching silk blouse has a jacquard woven design of leaves in a tone-on-tone design and ties at the throat in a pussy bow.
Dimensions
  • Jacket length: 67cm
  • Bust circumference: 100cm
  • Jacket waist circumference: 96cm
  • Blouse bust circumference: 97cm
  • Blouse length: 66cm
  • Skirt length: 70cm
  • Skirt waist circumference: 82cm
  • Hips circumference: 106cm
  • Suit, blouse, tyvek bag and hangers (2) weight: 1.4kg
Gallery label
  • Suit Aquascutum 1987 As leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990, blue (the party's colour) held particular meaning for Margaret Thatcher. She wore this distinctive suit to the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool in 1987 and again that year to place her vote in the general election, where she won a second term in office. The outfit was softened with a matching silk pussy-bow blouse. London Wool and silk Given by the family of the late Baroness Thatcher(December 2016 to mid 2017)
  • A Prime Minister's Wardrobe 1979 - 2003 In 2016, the V&A was given a selection of clothing belonging to the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013). The collection includes outfits worn by Baroness Thatcher at significant moments in her public and private life, and constitutes a record of the working wardrobe of one of the most important figures in recent political history. As a powerful woman in a predominantly masculine environment, Margaret Thatcher used her wardrobe as a strategic tool to inspire confidence and project authority. She was a strong supporter of the British fashion industry, and commissioned many of her signature tailored 'power suits' from the London firm Aquascutum. Thatcher understood the power of image, especially in a media-driven world, and frequently wore bold colours in order to make a visual impression. She was also aware that her wardrobe had a diplomatic function, recalling, 'I took a close interest in clothes, as most women do: but it was also extremely important that the impression I gave was right for the political occasion'.(December 2016 to mid 2017)
Credit line
Given by the family of the late Baroness Thatcher
Object history
This suit was worn by Mrs. Thatcher for the 1987 Conservative Party conference at Brighton, and on other occasions including to place her vote in that year's General Elections. It was named "Sapphire Blue" by Thatcher's personal assistant, Cynthia Crawford. Giving the garments names such as this enabled Crawford to manage and maintain the Prime Minister's wardrobe.

This suit appears in a number of particularly representative images of the Prime Minister that continue to be published in various media and contexts. While Thatcher did frequently wear other colours, such as green, red and hot pink, she is inextricably associated with blue, the colour of the Conservative Party; and with pussy bows at the throat. This suit is therefore a very strong and representative example of the Thatcher Look, both as worn, and as depicted in caricatures and cartoons widely published at the time and afterwards.

The suit was an off-the-peg model. When the London waxworks Madame Tussauds presented an updated portrait figure of Margaret Thatcher in 1988, the figure was dressed in an identical Aquascutum suit and blouse. Thatcher was photographed alongside her waxwork, both wearing the same outfit. The Madame Tussauds waxwork was still dressed in the same outfit as of 2012.

While cataloguing the suit two small sweets were found in a corner of one of the pockets. These appear to be Nipits, a menthol liquorice sweet manufactured by Simpkins (established 1921). These came in tins that read "Clarifies the voice and clears the throat" and were used by singers and public speakers to assist them with their performances.

- Daniel Milford-Cottam
08/12/2016
Association
Bibliographic references
  • Very British. A German Point of View, exhibition catalogue, Bonn, Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 2019, pp. 30-31
Collection
Accession number
T.1591:1 to 3-2017

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Record createdSeptember 27, 2016
Record URL
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