Major fashions image to suit challenge posed by Blair: The Prime Minister's double-breasted look last week excited style gurus. Mary Braid reports

JOHN MAJOR made his position clear in his speech at last week's Conservative Party conference. Oh yes. Tony Blair, youthful, sharp and slick, might be breathing down his neck, but the Prime Minister was interested in policies not image or sound-bites.

Strange then that so many politicians, journalists and style gurus should remark on last week's new, remodelled Mr Major.

Yesterday John Taylor, editor of British Style Magazine, congratulated the Prime Minister on his switch to rich, deep blue and 'darkly assertive' charcoal. He suggested that in the fashion stakes at least, Mr Major was making Mr Blair look yesterday's man.

The new John left an even deeper impression on Mary Spillane, the American head of Color Me Beautiful, Britain's leading image consultancy.

'When I saw him on Thursday my pulse raced,' said Ms Spillane. 'I was so excited. He has a few new double-breasted suits which suit him wonderfully well. He was wearing a tie with polka dots the size of a 5p piece which is simply wild for him. He was just short of edible.'

But old grey habits die hard. 'It turned out to be an emotional roller-coaster,' said Ms Spillane, a former adviser to Ronald Reagan, the former US president.

'By Friday he had fallen back. For the big speech it was a return to the pseudo policeman look, pin-stripe suit and boring burgundy tie.'

The style counsellers are backed by Tory politicians who say Mr Major, while slower off the mark than Margaret Thatcher - she had her teeth straightened, her voice lowered and her hair gradually transformed into a helmet - is sharpening up his act to counter the Blair factor. Out goes the underpants-over-the-trousers image and in come the tailor-made, expensive suits.

Peter Howarth, style editor for GQ magazine, argues that it is nonsense to believe an election result could hang on a suit and that image consultants exaggerate the importance of appearance.

But Ms Spillane insists image can 'make or break' politicians. She judges Mr Blair currently ahead, cleverly disguising his slight stature in a modification of the baggy Eurosuit. It appears that Mr Blair's hips do not swivel enough for the real thing.

For today's first encounter at Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, she suggests Mr Major should stick with the double-breasted suit to gloss over those imperfections. 'John's problem is that he is pear-shaped - wide in the beam and sloping at the shoulders. That is usually a problem for women,' she said.

Mr Major and Mr Blair's advisers insist that the leaders do not employ professional image makers. A Downing Street spokesman said there was no shortage of free advice in newspapers.

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week