It's too hot to be smart

PUBLISHED: 12:15 15 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:20 06 May 2010

THE MALE readers of this column, assuming I have any left, will be pleased to know that this week I ve decided to stick up for the boys. With the final arrival of summer, I ve realised that they rather get the rough end of the stick when it comes to keepi

THE MALE readers of this column, assuming I have any left, will be pleased to know that this week I've decided to stick up for the boys.

With the final arrival of summer, I've realised that they rather get the rough end of the stick when it comes to keeping cool and looking smart, as there is definitely a double standard in summer work wear.

Women can edge very close to casual when dressing to beat the heat whereas men are pretty much expected stick to shirt and trousers, possibly varying the former with a short sleeve option.

When we get a bit of sunshine, as I trot off to work in a lightweight skirt, T-shirt and a pair of sandals, my beloved heads off in pretty much the same gear he's been wearing all year - long sleeved shirt, tie, trousers and heavy shoes. He must be sweltering.

I don't think I look particularly scruffy and certainly I'm cool and comfortable, but there seems to be no equivalent summer wardrobe for men.

One man who obviously agrees with me on this is civil servant Raymond Akers, 52, who decided to make a protest about the dress code at his office, the Jobcentre Plus in Dorset.

Men were required to wear a shirt and tie and he claimed it was unfair that some of his female colleagues turned up in skimpy clothes, some allegedly with tattoos, naval piercings and midriffs on display.

In protest at this Mr Akers took to wearing flamboyant shirts and clashing ties, one of which - this is my particular favourite - was even decorated with brightly coloured condoms.

Needless to say this sartorial rebellion didn't go down well with the powers that be.

He was eventually dismissed from the job, and at an industrial tribunal lost his claim that he was unfairly dismissed and suffered sexual discrimination.

He's now left with no job and a bill for £3,000 costs.

On the bright side, he's presumably got a lively and varied wardrobe, but I'm not sure that will be much comfort.

While I certainly don't think a condom tie is the height of good taste, I genuinely think Mr Akers had a point.

If his female colleagues were sporting things akin to beach wear, why should he be made to wear a tie?

Apparently he believed that ties should become a thing of the past, like a bowler hat and brolly.

And again, maybe he has a point there. My grandfather always wore a tie, even when he was at home and I'm sure many of his generation are horrified by the declining standards of dress today.

But it can't have been all that comfortable to be in a tie all the time and maybe we do need to move forward.

For example, when it's scorching outside I personally can't see anything wrong with a smart polo shirt on a chap - I'm sure it would be a lot more comfortable.

Maybe as we continue to strive for equality, we should start in our wardrobes.

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