December 15, 2015 / 11:16 AM / 3 years ago

Margaret Thatcher's power suits, handbags go on sale

LONDON (Reuters) - Handbags, clothes and jewelry owned by the late British prime minister Margaret Thatcher are to go on sale on Tuesday, with some items expected to fetch up to 180,000 pounds ($273,000).

The Prime Ministerial Dispatch Box, part of the collection of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher during an auction preview at Christie's in London, Britain, December 11, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Up to 350 “historic and personal lots” related to Thatcher are on offer, and include Britain’s only woman prime minister’s wedding dress, her red prime ministerial dispatch bag and a figure of an eagle given to her by former U.S. president Ronald Reagan.

Also in the auction is the blue woolen suit she wore when she delivered the famous “no, no, no” speech in parliament against greater central control in Europe 25 years ago.

One part of the sale, with 150 of the items, will be held at auctioneer Christie’s London showroom, with estimates ranging from 200 to 180,000 pounds. A separate online sale with another 200 items, which began on Dec. 3 will run until Wednesday.

Known as the “Iron Lady”, Thatcher was Britain’s longest-serving prime minister of the 20th century.

She favored well-cut suits in strong colors, smart handbags and silk scarves, which became synonymous with term “power dressing.”

Her handbags were an essential part of the ensemble and even entered the political vocabulary of the time as figurative accessories to her uncompromising approach, especially where European leaders were concerned.

The term “handbagging” was coined by fellow Conservative Member of Parliament Julian Critchley to describe her style in cabinet meetings, the Oxford English Dictionary says, defining it as an action by a woman to “verbally attack or crush (a person or idea) ruthlessly and forcefully”.

Thatcher’s jewelry will also be up for auction, including an emerald and diamond necklace and a diamond flower brooch which she often wore on official outings.

The auction was announced after London’s Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), Britain’s main repository of historic clothes, said that talks about adding items from her wardrobe to its collection had led nowhere.

Reporting by Li-mei Hoang; editing by Stephen Addison

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