Life Kirstie Clements: When it comes to fashion, Albanese has a cabinet straight out of style’s wardrobe
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Kirstie Clements: When it comes to fashion, Albanese has a cabinet straight out of style’s wardrobe

politicians
Kirstie Clements asks: So, what is an appropriate Parliamentary dress code? Photo: Getty
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It was refreshing to see photographs of Anthony Albanese’s newly installed cabinet, especially the large female representation.

The first thing I noticed was all the fab-coloured pantsuits, Tanya Plibersek in bright yellow and Linda Burney in a sparkly tweed ensemble, with her kangaroo skin cloak and large dangly earrings.

It felt modern, a group of female politicians dressing as they pleased, unaffected by the unfair scrutiny that has been directed towards parliamentary women in the past.

As society moves on, so does the unnecessary criticism of what female politicians choose to wear – sexist nonsense their male colleagues never had to contend with.

The boxy suit is still a type of standard parliamentary uniform, but it is something that we are seeing evolve and change.

So, what is an appropriate parliamentary dress code?

The rules state that the dress in the members’ dining room must be of “a business standard”.

“Gentlemen are required to wear a business shirt with either a tie and/or jacket and fully closed shoes. Ladies are expected to wear a similar standard of dress.”

Kangaroo-pelt chic

Now, you say that to a fashion person, and you are going to get a very different interpretation of ‘similar standard’. I mean, there are Max Mara suits, and then there are Saint Laurent smoking tuxedos. Both are suits, but are in no way similar.

For Julia Gillard it meant Carla Zampatti jackets, Julie Bishop wore Giorgio Armani suits and brooches, and for Linda Burney, a glorious representation of her Aboriginal heritage.

There are obviously good reasons for having a basic dress code. Nobody wants to see politicians looking shabby or too informal; i.e. thongs and shorts, but there is something to be said for being able to see someone’s personality, as represented by their clothing.

I liked seeing US Democratic hopeful Beto O’Rourke stand up to the good ole boys in his casual jeans and shirt in Texas this month, when he was protesting against Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s inertia on gun control.

There was something about the utter normalcy of what he had on, which made him seem cool and relatable, surely a bonus when you think about the youth vote.

There’s a line where professional dress and personality meet, and only the individual involved can make the call, but I’m hopeful we will start seeing the envelope pushed a bit more.

Even the new PM’s spectacles update gave me hope. I’m not sure if the full athleisure look that all of Australia has seemingly adopted should dominate the front bench, but maybe we could up the ante with a series of crumpled jackets.

Does “fully closed shoes” extend to a cool pair of Nikes? I love a pantsuit with a sneaker. It would be a good litmus test for our male politicians hiding behind their Rivers dress slip-ons.

Who will be sporting the New Balance Dad shoe? Any nerdy All Birds aficionados? Or do we have an Air Jordan guy in the room?

If so, now we’re talking.