TROUSER BLOG – Brexit, Wimbledon and high heels

With so much going on recently with Brexit debacles and the disintegration of the Government and the Opposition etc, it was heartening to see the leading ladies, Theresa and Andrea, wearing trousers to work.  However, Wimbledon has now finished and (of course) there is always something to say about the clothes worn by the female players. Wimbledon has a very strict dress code which applies to everyone. White must be worn and colour has to be minimised. However, as Phoebe Luckhurst pointed out in The Guardian on Tuesday 31st June, ‘women must negotiate the dynamics between style, propriety and functionality. She went on to say that it is virtually mandated that women playing at the elite level wear ( very short ) skirts. Mandated by whom, I ask?  Skirts at Wimbledon, are not compulsory.  What the female players wear has always been a topic of interest and for the most part it usually is -a short tennis dress/skirt  with possibly frilly knickers underneath – but not always.  I can remember a time when polo shirts and skirts were popular, and some female players,  e.g Martina Navratalova,  regularly wore shorts.   However, the interesting saga at Wimbledon this year, was that some players were refusing to wear a new dress designed by their sponsor NIKE.  This dress apparently ballooned out so much that the players underwear was revealed to the spectators. One poor player got so frustrated that she tucked the skirt into her pants. Come on NIKE, design something more practical and functional as well as stylish. Spectators come to  Wimbledon  to watch the tennis and the game should not be impaired by silly and impractical clothes.

And talking of practicality, on the 28th June, the great high- heeled shoe debate was discussed in Parliament by the Petitions Committee and the Women and Equalities Committee. Here is the link to the debate. It is really interesting, and dare I say it, rather amusing at times.

The Chair of the debate (Helen Jones) gave the Simon Pratt, the Managing Director of  Portico (the offending organisation) a really hard time, because not only did the dress code include the now infamous 4-inch high-heeled  shoes,  but it also included the shade of stockings to be worn and the type of make up  to be applied. She asked witheringly: ‘Did it never occur to anyone in the company that these rules might not be a good idea?’. After a thoughtful and apologetic pause, Simon Pratt said ‘no’.

Although this debate was all about dress codes in the workplace, there were some points made that are useful for those who are challenging school dress codes that do not allow girls to wear trousers.

Portico, the offending organisation, is a Recruitment Agency and in defence of its dress code, Azmat Mohammed the Director General of the Institute of Recruiters,  claimed that it was only reflecting the dress codes required by its customers. This defence cut no ice with committee member Ben Howlett who said that if that if any customers of a recruitment agency  had dress codes or any other practices  which might contravene the Equality Act 2010, then it was the recruitment agency’s responsibility to bring it to the attention of the company.

Extrapolating the moral of this debate to our focus on trousers and school uniforms, it is clear  that if a pupil or parent  thinks  that a school’s dress code contravenes the  Equality Act,  then they have  a responsibility to bring it to the attention of the school.
It is also worth remembering that the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

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