“Business attire”

Intrigued by the Speaker’s ruling today that all women MPs should wear “business attire”, I sought guidance from Google. It appears that directing women to wear “business attire” is code for telling women to dress like men.

So what I have deduced from the Speaker’s ruling is it is okay for women MPs to wear anything as long as we look like men. And, presumably, behave like them as well. This ruling is indicative of the fact that Parliament is still the male citadel that it was when I entered it 12 years ago – based on male rules, male culture and male values.

Here is some of the advice to women about wearing “business attire” that I found on Google:

  • Conservative colours and fabrics remain a standard in business attire for women. Plaids and subtle patterns, that appear solid from across a room, are conservative and safest. Wide stripes and fabrics with a high sheen are too distracting for business meetings.
  • Typical formal business attire has an advantage because it can easily direct listeners to your eyes. A light blouse under a closed dark jacket forms an area of brightness near the face … a contrasting scarf can heighten the effect.
  • Avoid clothes that are the latest fad and choose a more conservative look. Keep your hemline conservative, about one or two inches above the knee. Do not wear flashy jewellery or jewellery that makes a clanging noise when you move.

These posts show how ridiculous it is to instruct women to wear “business attire.
It also shows how confusing the ruling is; you get a different interpretation depending on which Google post you read.

The Speaker is going to have to spell this ruling out more clearly to avoid confusion. For example, is it okay to wear a cardigan in the House? What about a dress with short sleeves? A clarification of the Speaker’s ruling is urgently needed.

31 thoughts on ““Business attire”

  1. Please don’t drag this out Greens, it is a pointless distraction.

    Women have far greater flexibility than men when it comes to business attire. So I don’t know what you’re looking for, for the speaker to tell you to wear a sharp Helen Clark-style suit? So you can then cry foul about being told what to wear by oppressive men?

    I think Lockwood Smith was right in saying he’s not going to be pedantic and prescribe a dress code and believes MPs are intelligent enough to grasp what is appropriate business attire.

    A rugby jersey isn’t appropriate attire for parliament. Neither was the All Whites jersey Jackie Blue wore (regardless of whether she got away with it or not). It’s got nothing to do with gender. Pretty clear cut really.

    Only thing different Smith should have done was restate the ruling on standards of dress, ask that Clare don’t do so again, say he would have to ask MPs to leave and change in the future, and move on.

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  2. @decanker 6:02 PM

    I really don’t give a stuff how women or men are dressed in Parliament. They are elected to legislate for how our country is governed, not for how they dress.

    The criterion we should judge them on (unless they engage in corrupt or otherwise unlawful behaviour)is their performance as legislators.

    I also despise the rule that requires male MPs to dress in jacket and tie. That to me is the uniform of the enemy who have desecrated our planet and oppressed our people.

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  3. I find this post puzzling. You are making it out to be an issue of gender. While the house’s gender diversity leaves a lot to be desired, the MP was wearing a *rugby jersey*, as a very visible protest. I am convinced that had an MP of *any* gender worn the same clothes they would’ve been booted out as well.

    This is *not* about the definition of “business attire” for women (or people of any gender) – whatever the definition, a rugby jersey will very likely fall way outside of that. I am a feminist and I think the battle for equality is very important and still not over. However, this sort of stuff is hardly relevant and only detracting from the real issues.

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  4. @toad, don’t be ridiculous.

    First you said you don’t give a stuff what men and women wear in parliament. Then you said you despise the rule requiring male MPs to wear a suit and tie.

    I like to wear a suit and tie on formal occasions. I think I look quite smart in mine, spent a fair penny on it at local store Little Brother. Wearing it hardly makes me an enemy hellbent on desecrating our planet.

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  5. @toad: “I also despise the rule that requires male MPs to dress in jacket and tie. That to me is the uniform of the enemy who have desecrated our planet and oppressed our people.”

    I’m happy that my work has no dress code – in fact I don’t think I would work at a place that forced me to wear a suit if I could help it, but I have a few really beautiful suits and I love wearing them when I go out on the town. Plus I look awesome in them. Not everyone in a suit is the same. Open your mind and treat human beings as human beings, however they choose to look.

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  6. @gert 6:17 PM

    But rugby is a very big business. Just check out what Dan Carter and Richie McCaw get paid. So why isn’t a rugby jersey, which is what they are wearing to earn their money, “business attire”?

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  7. Sure it’s a distraction, but the notion of “business attire” is the language of a gentlemans’s club that excludes the working class/underclass.

    It’s the conjunction of the old order and the new corporatisation – leadership in obligatory service to (credit ratings agencies) international capital.

    Clare should have simply taken the jersey off then and there – with an appropriately messaged t-shirt underneath.

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  8. @decanker 6:21 PM

    Your choice. But I have chosen to never wear a suit or a tie, and to never attend any function that requires me to do so. My choice, surely?

    But if someone is an elected representative, why should their choice re how they dress be denied?

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  9. @SPC 6:25 PM

    Clare should have simply taken the jersey off.

    That would have been the ultimate protest. Bare breasts in Parliament. Go Clare!

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  10. Personally I have no problem with the rule that Members of Parliament wear business attire – I would expect nothing less from the Directors of a Company, and that is essentially what our MPs are – the Directors of New Zealand Incorporated.

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  11. MPs aren’t employees – they’re elected. Surely the dress of an MP, or indeed anything else they do that doesn’t disrupt parliaments business, is a matter between them and their electorate.

    Lockwood Smith is showing contempt for the people of Dunedin in dictating what *their* representative is allowed to wear.

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  12. This post reminds me of what’s the Greens are on about – fringe politics. Given you’ve turned “business attire” into ‘sexist’ and ‘discrinination’ and hinted at male domination in the house, you’ve insulted the constituents of the elected members. Small things amuse small party’s, I suppose?

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  13. Get a grip, people. The MP’s intent was to get publicity and she did. Case closed.

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  14. Of course Lockwood would make a ruling like this.
    It matches what he has in his closet (sans Speedos).

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  15. After 12 years in Parliament, you’ve only just noticed this rule? And if I Google Sue Kedgley I get a few answers that are not too complimentary for you.

    Anyhoo, you have had the ability to write to the Standing Orders committee for 12 years about this, if it really concerns you I suggest you get pen to paper now instead of just moaning…

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  16. There is nothing wrong if business women dress like men! I just want to make people understand that , if women are clothed like men , they look damn better than clothed like a women. So i don’t know what’s the problem.

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  17. Sue says “So what I have deduced from the Speaker’s ruling is it is okay for women MPs to wear anything as long as we look like men.”

    That’s a really stupid deduction to make from a simple straighforward statement about dressing appropriately for parliament.

    And what about this nonsense by toad….
    “….male MPs to dress in jacket and tie. That to me is the uniform of the enemy who have desecrated our planet and oppressed our people.”

    All those people who work in the city had better watch out – you’re all wearing the uniform of the enemy…….

    bizarre

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  18. That’s a really stupid deduction to make from a simple straighforward statement about dressing appropriately for parliament.

    I agree photo – if you look at businesswomen and businessmen, they dress conservatively but they still dress like women and men. I would not expect to see Paul Reynolds addressing the shareholders of Telecom in an All Blacks jersey, and I would not expect to see any MP addressing the Parliament of New Zealand (and by extension, the people of New Zealand) in anything other than appropriate attire.

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  19. Tell that to the people at Apple, one of the most successful companies of recent times – since when have their leaders worn business attire.

    And Reynolds wearing an AB jersey later in the year while talking about broadband roll-out nationwide is not unlikely.

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  20. Sue says “It appears that directing women to wear “business attire” is code for telling women to dress like men.”

    Clearly Sue has never bothered to read the her own workplace guidelines.

    If she did, she’d see they say the exact opposite of what she insinuates.

    That in the debating chanmbers ALL members are expected to be dressed in “appropriate business atire”. For men this includes a jacket and tie.

    But it’s not so strick for women, specifically stating “There are no specific rules in relation to women.”

    Clare Curren pulled a political stunt – some may say a cheap stunt – but a very effective one.

    However the feminist angle on this is a transparently hollow beat-up that will only bring ridicule to those involved.

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  21. Given the traditional behavior from natianal and labor mp’s it would be appropriate to dress them in clown costumes or perhaps the clothes that Kindergarden children wear.

    Given the lies and bullshit that both labor and natianal mp’s have pumped out over the decades perhaps we coulds have some kind of ‘liars clothes’ for them to wear …………. or do we have that already and it is business suits and such?.

    What we’ve got from both labor and natianal mp’s over my life has been pure shit.

    Dress them in shit I say.

    And speaking of that I must go to the toilet for a ‘right honorable’.

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  22. Who cares what they wear. It is what they do that matters.

    Getting half strangled with a tie may explain some of the parliamentary decisions. :-)

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  23. What is it about New Zealand that the most insignificant events arouse the greatest amount of debate?

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  24. Un-bee-fucking-leave-able.

    New Zealand is just months away from the greatest rorting in its history and what are the collective minds of the Green Party engaged in?

    If Kedgley (or any other MP) needs guidance on what to wear in Parliament then their common sense is so broken they should just resign, and resign right now, and make way for someone with a brain that works.

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  25. Sue Kedgley’s claim that she does not understad what business attire is further diminishes her in the eyes of NZ. After falling for the ‘Hydrogen Dioxide’ spoof and then suggesting that 30+60=100, Kedgley’s credibilty stocks are at an all time low and it behaviour like this that marginalises the environmental message te greens ought to be pushing.

    To try and turn this issue into a gendered issue suggests that Kedgley needs to be put out to pasture as a tired old relic from 1972.

    The Greens can do better than this, and ought to be

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  26. Curran had to do something to boost her profile I guess, given that she is completely out of her depth as an MP.

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  27. Im telling you that given the traditional behaviour in the house that they should be dressed in bibs and napppys.

    purile, infantile crap is what most New Zealanders think of the crap that imitates ‘debate’ in parliament.

    A Pack of clowns ………. with the greens being the best of a bad bunch

    Sickening from so called adults and ‘leaders’

    ………. And then they give each other knighthoods ……..

    what a sad joke.

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