It's all rather OTT in the girl armour dept

JANE BOWRON
Last updated 05:00 03/02/2014

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A few years ago a certain Christchurch girls' school sent out an edict to female staff to stop buying clothes at Glassons because it was the students' shop of choice.

OPINION: Teachers were advised to aim higher. The snobbish sartorial command reminded me of this week's Jacketgate scandal where Green MP Metiria Turei has been under fire from two female National MPs who inferred that Turei is a Leftie hypocrite because she lives in a pretentious dwelling and wears expensive jackets. The context - when Police Minister Anne Tolley objected to being lectured by 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 Tolley's black and white vision of the world, 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. Turei has interpreted Tolley's comments as "pure racism", believing that the Nat pack finds it hard to swallow that a Maori woman from a working-class background can buy clothes from the same shops as Tolley. One wonders if 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 jackets and clothes well above their socialist station.

Senior minister Judith Collins has stood by previous barbs she produced after a speech by Turei, which Collins described as, "vile, wrong and ugly - just like her jacket".

Offered hindsight, Collins still maintains the particular jacket in question was "ugly".

Furthermore, 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 (coloured's entrance only), makes Turei, in Collins' wither words, "a sensitive little sausage".

All claims of hypocrisy, over-sensitivity, taste v 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 of hidden shoulder pads 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 - screaming out for braid, medals, perhaps a whistle or a pair of gold epaulets to imply self-appointed rank to show someone uppity in the lower orders what a real general looks like.

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