Angela Rayner Understands The Politics Of Fashion

Like it or not, female politicians are always scrutinised for what they wear – but Angela Rayner has used that to her advantage.

angela rayner style

by Hannah Banks-Walker |
Updated on

To be a woman in politics is to face a level of scrutiny still not endured by men, and Angela Rayner is one such woman who knows this only too well. At a time when the country was struggling through a pandemic in 2020, for example, she was being lambasted by several news organisations for wearing leopard print trousers and bovver boots. Fast forward to November last year and, after appearing in Vogue, giving an interview in which she discusses many aspects of her politics, those same news outlets ran headlines dissecting the cost of the outfit she wore in the accompanying photoshoot. It's not a new story for female politicians (remember Theresa May's leather trousers?). What does feel new, however, is the way in which Rayner has used this scrutiny of her appearance to her singular advantage.

Britain's Deputy Prime Minister and Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary Angela Rayner arrives to attend a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in London on July 6, 2024. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Given that every style choice made by women in the public eye is endlessly picked over in the national media, there could be a temptation to choose unremarkable, sober clothes which avoid communicating any message at all. Instead, Rayner has refused to be cowed into submission, choosing pieces which not only reflect her personal style but which manage to expertly bridge the gap between relatable and aspirational, arguably Rayner's approach to politics at large.

Angela Rayner wearing a ME+EM jumpsuit
Angela Rayner wearing a ME+EM jumpsuit

Born into poverty, Rayner was a child carer at six and a single mother at 16; her family often couldn't afford hot water or sanitary products and she left school when she became pregnant. Hers is an extraordinary story of hard work and determination; despite the odds, she has carved out a successful career in politics and is now the deputy leader of the government. While she's faced a specific blend of classism and sexism in Westminster, she has used her background to her advantage, regularly reiterating the fact that she isn't a product of private school and the level of privilege we've come to expect from so many politicians.

Angela Rayner in an All Saints dress
Angela Rayner in an All Saints dress

In many ways, Rayner started dressing for the job she wanted. She replaced the controversial bovver boots with a sleeker image, without sacrificing her love of bright, bold colours. In fact, colour blocking became her new power move, as she chose red midi dresses and matching tailored coats, bright green trousers and neat fitted jackets. The leopard print has still been in evidence, only this time in the form of midi dresses worn with ballet pumps, a 'look' which no doubt resonates with women across the country. Like most women, too, Rayner has found all of this on the British high street, relying heavily on brands like Ted Baker, All Saints, Reiss and, most of all, ME+EM.

For both her first and second appearances, post-victory, on Downing Street, Rayner choose outfits from the contemporary brand. First, a spearmint green trouser suit with the same wide-legged silhouette that she wore on the campaign trail. Then, a cap-sleeved orange dress that fell to the mid calf, which is now discounted by 30% in the sale.

Sadiq Khan with Angela Rayner in a coat by Emilia Wickstead
Sadiq Khan with Angela Rayner in a coat by Emilia Wickstead

Despite mostly wearing clothes from the high street, her one extravagance has been an oversized chartreuse coat from Emilia Wickstead, which she originally wore for her Vogue appearance. Just under £2,000, it's an investment piece which would work in any year – the sort of thing you'd save up for knowing you'll wear it time and again. It may seem excessive to read into her wardrobe to this extent but, as we all know, the sartorial choices we all make can speak volumes about us as individuals.

Rayner has expertly navigated the politics of fashion, cultivating an image which speaks volumes about her actual politics and which, no doubt, will appeal to thousands of women in the UK. It will be interesting to see how she manages the next chapter, stepping into her role in government and, no doubt, proving that personal style and professionalism can not just co-exist, but actually work to a woman's advantage.

Shop: Angela Rayner's High Street Outfits

ME+EM, Textured Pleat-Front Midi Dress
Price: £227.50 (was £325)

angela rayner leopard print dress
Price: £86.23 (was £235)

reiss dress
Price: £98 (was £228)

angela rayner ted baker dress
Price: £97 (was £195)

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