Sloppy or sartorial? Why dress codes have become irrelevant

Ugg boots are quite the high-fashion look nowadays, so a ban at the Qantas Club seems odd.

Ugg boots are quite the high-fashion look nowadays, so a ban at the Qantas Club seems odd. Photo: Getty

The concept of dress codes has always been fraught with problems, because looking “appropriate” relies individual interpretation.

It is far more complex than banning a specific item of clothing like thongs, and insisting on others, like a tie or a jacket.

Take ABC journalist Patricia Karvelas being asked to leave Question Time in Parliament this week, as her short-sleeved top was deemed to be showing “too much shoulder” which was all very 19th century and highly exasperating to Karvelas who was just trying to get her job done.

She was wearing a pair of tailored black pants and a white silk top with a round neck and cap sleeves, a fab outfit that is highly appropriate for any professional female.

The government later apologised to Karvelas, Speaker Tony Smith saying: “The journalist in question was attired in a way which would be reasonably considered professional business attire and she should, in hindsight, not have been asked to leave.”

Karvelas later tweeted wryly that she was “pleased that female journalists will be free to wear professional clothing that reflects what politicians wear”.

If they are going to go all fashion-police down there in Canberra – God help us – then I’d probably start with the male politicians and use some other benchmarks like, “if your suit doesn’t fit as well as Penny Wong’s, you’re out”.

We are all so sick of women’s clothing choices being scrutinised while a lot of the men walk around looking like unmade beds. I’ve developed a very unhealthy obsession with Donald Trump’s awful suits, which are pretty much the same cavernous suit, just varying degrees of rumpled, with trouser legs helpfully cut wide enough to cover an ankle monitor.

inappropriate dress sense

President Donald Trump in yet another cavernous, wide-legged suit. Photo: Getty

But truly how do you enforce style rules? You can’t wear thongs in many establishments, for example.

But explain to me what is inherently bad about thongs, because in my world a tan, natural-leather thong is a really nice look. Worn with a pretty dress, white jeans or a linen suit for guys they look very chic – all very Jackie Onassis on holidays in Skorpios.

I think the original intent of the thong ban may have been to protect us from the horror of seeing other people’s gnarly feet – which is very thoughtful. But I’ve seen things that cannot be unseen spilling out of $1200 Jimmy Choo sandals.

inappropriate style

Jennifer Garner …. in Ugg boots. Photo: Getty

Ugg boots are apparently banned in the Qantas Club, which is puzzling, as they are quite the high-fashion look nowadays and it seems somewhat discriminatory towards our sheep.

Some of the dress codes have an élite and antiquated bias, like the idea that wearing Ugg boots and thongs and shorts means you are low-class bogans, when in fact it is the off-duty uniform of every international supermodel and actress.

If we are going to be arbitrary and illogical, then I’d like to suggest some random male dress codes that would greatly improve the general vista.

No more slip on shoes with square toes. Cargo shorts are suspicious. Long-sleeved dress shirts should be tucked in. And please guys, not too much shoulder.

what is inappropriate fashion

Cargo shorts: No. Just no. Photo: Instagram

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