Should Gisborne ban the wearing of pyjamas in public because, as one councillor said, it lowers the tone? Should we judge people by what they wear?

Whether we like it or not, we judge a person according to their appearance and what they're wearing, in terms of making snap decisions about what their occupation might be, where they might fit in society, or what sort of person they may be in relation to us.

For instance, if we see someone in school uniform, we know immediately they are a student. If we recognise that uniform as, say, the regulation clobber of Christ's College, Samuel Marsden, or King's College Auckland, we'll probably (if we've got nothing more pressing on our minds) make an assessment about that family's income.

If we see someone in a high-viz vest, we'll assume they're wearing it for safety and are employed in something such as the construction industry, not that they're wearing it as a fashion statement. (Then again, who knows?) We make judgments about tattoos, body piercings, deliberately ripped jeans and panty-hose, exposed bellies, and if you're Sir Robert Jones, sunglasses on heads, baseball caps worn backwards, and water-bottles carried as accessories.

So, a confession. I'm a fashion junkie. Which doesn't mean I'm a fashion victim - someone who rushes out and purchases the latest fad, regardless of whether it suits body shape. I've been fascinated by fashion designers as long as I can remember, ripping pages out of "Seventeen" magazine before I was even a teenager, and sticking them all over my bedroom wall.

The Shrimp, Twiggy, Veruschka - all filled scrapbooks, and one of my first journalism jobs upon leaving Wellington Polytech journalism course included writing fashion copy. I studied Rosemary McLeod's work (she preceded me at the same publication) and envied her style.

I've never equated fashion with vacuousness. Coco Chanel, Emporio Armani - all the best designers' clothes are deceptively simple, when you know how to cut and sew, and have an appreciation of fine fabrics. To me it's a form of art/architecture.

So I spend much of my time when stuck at airports, or waiting in queues, studying the way people dress, wondering why they decided to put that dress with those shoes, or this jacket over that skirt. Not the youth, they must have their flings and get madness out of their systems. But middle-age New Zealand men and women seem to have a penchant for presenting themselves badly, when really they have the potential to look so great.

And it needn't cost - perusing Ezi-buy, or Paperbag Princess, or other bargain shops is just as rewarding as spending fortunes on Net-a-Porter.

So pyjamas? Well, this current trend for jazzy pants in florals, digi-prints or animalia means everyone will soon look as if they've forgotten to change out of night attire for work. But unless you're Kate Moss or Ines de la Fressange, with perfect legs, you should not go out in them.

Then again, it might save you from being hit by one of Wellington's buses, since that city's council is determined to put traffic before pedestrians. (And while I'm on the topic of pants, what is it with NZ women wearing pants cut off at mid-calf? Do they think their legs look better with the blinds half drawn? Those shrunken obscenities should be cut off, and recycled as Daisy Dukes.)

But I'm a clothing snob. It's none of my business, or anyone else's what someone chooses to wear, unless there are rules to be broken on private property. If Gisborne's authorities were serious about banning PJs in public, what do they consider "appropriate" daywear? Are three-piece Zegna suits to be de rigeur?

Can we (ahem) judge a book by its cover?

I think to answer that question we should look in the docks of the High Courts around the country recently, and see what so many of the accused have been dressed in, many of whom have been sent off to jail. Fashionable, expensive suits, clothing the very guilty bodies of directors of finance companies (and I don't mean to tarnish all finance company directors by this).

One of these convicted, who went to jail, even took his Rolex watch with him, until warned by a guard it might not be a good idea.

And no doubt because the investors thought these nicely dressed, well-groomed men (and they've all been men so far), in their silk ties, and crisply pressed cotton shirts looked so clean, and trustworthy, they handed over their life savings.

The same could be said about the bankers in England, with the Libor scandal unfolding.

Crooks in pinstripes, they've been dubbed. Back in the stockmarket crash of the 1980s, they wore baggy shiny suits and yellow ties, but they still took us for all we had.

Would they have gotten away with it if they'd been wearing pyjamas?

I doubt it, so what does that make us?

Comments (7)

by mudfish on September 02, 2012
mudfish
No there shouldn't be any ban, regardless of how tastelessly people dress, as long as there's no obscenities involved. Pyjama people must be getting lots of stares. My suggestion is, keep staring. Pointedly if necessary. They might eventually get the hint, but an underdeveloped dress sense shouldn't be a punishable offence. If they ask what you're staring at, offer a lesson in power dressing. There's always going to be some grey areas (obscenities included) where people will disagree about what's acceptable and what's not, and the target is always moving. What's acceptable in Gisborne ain't exactly de rigeur in Paris...
by Richard Aston on September 03, 2012
Richard Aston

That a local government politician is even suggesting banning any type of clothes says more about them than fashion. The shear arrogance is breathtaking.

 

by stuart munro on September 04, 2012
stuart munro

Not all men, Jacqui Bradley.

by Deborah Coddington on September 05, 2012
Deborah Coddington

Jacqui Bradley hasn't been convicted.

by stuart munro on September 06, 2012
stuart munro

When Bradley was found guilty of 75 fraud-related charges yesterday afternoon...(September 06)

by danniel on July 23, 2013
danniel

You make such good points about the clothing habits. I just think people go with collective thinking, they allow themselves to look less neat just because most of those surrounding them do the same thing. I like fashion too and I found an interesting niche to observe: plus size women’s golf apparel. It really helped me view how clothes evolved in the last decade. You'd be amazed to see many things you can discover just by observing that.

by rickk on October 23, 2013
rickk

 

I find it hard to believe that people actually wear pyjamas as a way to express their fashion taste, why would we need a regulation for that? Sure, I am more into celtic engagement rings at MaeVona.com than pyjamas, that's probably why I don't understand why some regulation is necessary. Fashion is after all a free way of expression.

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