Nat pack jacket attack is naked animosity

AFEW years ago a certain Christchurch girls' school told female staff to stop purchasing clothes at Glassons because it was the students' shop of choice. Teachers were advised to aim higher.

The snobbish sartorial command reminded me of this week's "Jacketgate" scandal. Green MP Metiria Turei has been under fire from two female National MPs, who implied Ms Turei is a Leftie hypocrite because she lives in a pretentious dwelling and wears expensive jackets.

The context - (Fashion) Police Minister Anne Tolley had objected to being lectured by Ms Turei on child poverty, "by someone who has no constituents, lives in a castle and comes to the House in $2000 designer jackets, and tells me I'm out of touch".

According to Ms Tolley, a person of the Green persuasion earning a high salary who buys expensive clothes should not be allowed to wear the accessory of a social conscience.

Ms Turei has interpreted Ms Tolley's comments as "pure racism", believing the Nat pack finds it hard to swallow that a Maori woman from a working- class background can buy clothes from the same shops Anne Tolley did.

One wonders if Ms Tolley would feel happier and less threatened if all Left- leaning female MPs would cut their cloth accordingly and wear jackets made out of sacking, hemp or cast-off Morris Dancers' jackets, even though the generous MP's salary allows them to buy clothes well above their socialist station. As they say in the rock'n roll world, straight jacket fits!

Meanwhile senior minister Judith Collins stood by previous barbs in which she described a speech by Ms Turei as "vile, wrong and ugly - just like her jacket". Offered hindsight Ms Collins still maintains that the jacket in question was "ugly".

Furthermore Ms Turei's objections to the two Nats' bullying tactics, which would be interpreted by any remaining card-carrying member of the sisterhood as an attempt to drive a perceived weaker sistah out of the boutique - coloureds' entrance only - makes Ms Turei, in Crusher Collins' withering words, "a sensitive little sausage".

All claims of hypocrisy, oversensitivity, taste versus bad taste aesthetics, and racism aside, there does seem to be something rather OTT going down with the girl armour in Parliament. Not since the power suit days have women's jackets been so competitive. Jackets only really suit slender women and make the majority of Kiwi women, on the buxom side, look like supermarket boxes with legs sticking out the bottom.

It is understandable that women competing in a man's world would want to suit up for battle but the across-party jackets worn in Parliament are like those not seen anywhere else - a cross between a race day outfit and a moving Chesterfield. They come with panels, tassels, a bloat of bling, a plethora of patterns, florals and flamboyant cuts and are very look at moi, look at moi in a unique kind of way.

There is something almost of the military dictatorship about them, some screaming out for braid, medals perhaps a bell or a pair of gold epaulettes to imply self-appointed rank - to show someone in the lower orders what a real rear admiraless looks like. Forget body language: the study of Parliamentary jacketology would have enough there for an entire psychiatrists' conference.

The Dominion Post