Seeing photos of Anthony Albanese’s newly installed closet was refreshing, especially the large female representation.
The first thing I noticed was all the fantastic colored trouser suits, Tanya Plibersek in bright yellow and Linda Burney in a sparkly tweed ensemble, with her kangaroo skin cloak and large dangling earrings.
It felt modern, a group of female politicians who dressed as they pleased, untouched by the unfair scrutiny aimed at parliamentary women in the past.
As society progresses, so does the needless criticism of what female politicians choose to wear – sexist nonsense that their male colleagues have never dealt with.
The boxy suit is still a standard parliamentary uniform but is evolving and changing.
So, what is an appropriate parliamentary dress code?
The rules state that the members’ dining room clothing must be of “business quality”.
“Men are required to wear a business shirt with tie and/or jacket and fully closed shoes. Women are expected to wear a similar dress standard.”
If you say that to a fashion person now, you get a different interpretation of ‘similar standard’. There are Max Mara suits, and then there are Saint Laurent smoking tuxedos. Both are suits, but in no way resemble each other.
For Julia Gillard, it meant Carla Zampatti coats, Julie Bishop wore suits and brooches by Giorgio Armani, and for Linda Burney, it was a glorious display of her Aboriginal heritage.
There are, of course, good reasons to have a basic dress code. Nobody wants politicians to look shabby or too informal, i.e., in thongs and shorts, but there is something to be said for seeing one’s personality reflected by their clothing.
I enjoyed watching the American Democratic hopeful Beto O’Rourke stand up to the good old boys in his casual pants and shirt this month in Texas when he protested the tardiness of Texas Governor Greg Abbott on gun control.
Something about the complete normality of what he was wearing made him seem cool and recognizable; definitely, a bonus when you think about the youth’s mood.
There’s a line where professional attire and personality meet, and only the person involved can place the call, but I’m hopeful we’ll see the boundaries a bit more.
Even the new Prime Minister’s glasses update gave me hope. I’m not sure the full athleisure look that all of Australia has seemingly adopted should dominate the front bench, but maybe we can raise the bar with a range of crumpled-up jackets.
Do ‘completely closed shoes’ also apply to a cool pair of Nikes? I like a pantsuit with a sneaker. It would be a good litmus test for our male politicians hiding behind their Rivers loafers.
Who wears the New Balance Dad shoe? All the nerdy lovers of All Birds? Or do we have an Air Jordan guy in the room?
If so, we have it now.