How to get the Blair look

Yesterday, 'touchy-feely Tony Blair' wore a pink wristband on a visit to a hospital. The day before, 'man-of-the-people PM' slurped tea out of a mug. Is it all part of a meticulous political strategy to make him all things to all voters? Ed Caesar examines the body of evidence
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Indy Politics

Tea mug

Tea mug

One of the most iconic images of Blair is of him standing, relaxed, with a white mug of tea cradled affectionately in his right hand. It was the first image we saw of Blair when Cherie had just given birth to Leo, and was also used on the front cover of a recent Time Out. The tea mug says Blair is a man of the people, that he shares our plight, and that he is, above all, British. Why the British should feel more comfortable knowing that their leader is a tea drinker is one of the great unknowables.

Bomber jacket

Bush's influence over Blair has never been more prominent than when our PM donned a bomber jacket to announce the first allied attacks on Afghanistan in 2002. Sadly, this Memphis Belle incident was not the only negative influence America has had on Tony's wardrobe. His cowboy-belt-and-thumbs-in-tight-jeans-pockets look is designed to give Islamic terrorists the willies, but actually gives off a decidedly homoerotic vibe, while his television appearance in a cheesecloth shirt and sandals should have come with a health warning.

Charity wristbands

The huge variety of coloured charity wristbands make them a perfect politician's accessory. Blair has already been spotted this week wearing the pink Breast Cancer Awareness wristband, although he is more often to be seen sporting his white Make Poverty History wristband. While the Prime Minister has shown a laudable commitment to making his own poverty history with some shrewd purchases in the property market, it was not until he sported the white wristband that the world believed he was serious about global debt.

Oblong specs

After two years in office, Cherie noticed that Tony was squinting when he read, and he duly booked an appointment at the optician's. His choice of oblong metal frames was praised as being "unpretentious, yet stylish" - surely the first time such a charge has been levelled at the Prime Minister. And one only has to watch PMQs to see the increasingly prominent role Blair's specs have as a dramatic prop: on for quoting obscure figures and praising Labour's record; off for confrontational grandstanding.

Paul Smith shirt with naked woman cuffs

The normally parsimonious St Tony made an unusual fashion statement when he appeared at an Australian Commonwealth meeting in 2002 wearing a Paul Smith pinstripe suit and shirt to match. Ever the controversialist, Blair's inside cuff daringly depicted an image of a naked woman. It was a look that unconvincingly shouted "laid back" to his Antipodean hosts while keeping his loyalties in line with the soon to be very un-cool Britannia.

Blue Nicole Farhi jumper

The Prime Minister's 2002 Australian trip evidently came at an experimental juncture in Tony Blair's fashion adventures. Not only did he show a little naked flesh on the inside of his shirt-cuff, but it was the first time that he had outed his dark- and light-blue striped jumper by the British designer Nicole Farhi, which has since become a casual favourite. With no T-shirt worn underneath, the jumper demonstrates that the PM is a fashion-savvy New Bond Street regular - in touch with his continental side. Or, at least, it would have done if he had bought it in person, and not been dressed in it by his image consultant.

Red tie

At the 1997 and 2001 elections, purple was Blair's tie-colour of choice. It gave him a regal glow. For party traditionalists, though, the colour betrayed a slide towards a Conservative blue. Over the past three years, Blair has bet on red. It is not only Labour to the core, but, coupled with a white shirt, is the most presidential of his looks. Every male cabinet-member had a red tie to launch the 2005 manifesto.

Nehru jacket

Blair's bid to spread the message of peace on the subcontinent in 2002 will live long in the memory for one of his most cringe-inducing fashion gaffes. At an Indian state banquet, the Prime Minister wore a Babs Mahil-designed Nehru jacket with collarless shirt. The Independent's Terence Blacker likened Blair's choice of outfit to President Musharraf "appearing in a pinstripe suit, with a bowler hat on his head, and a monocle in one eye." The Nehru jacket has not been seen since.

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