Noelle McCarthy: Sexist suiting


Australian television personality Karl Stefanovic knows the power of a simple suit. Picture / AP Images.

Aussie TV host Karl Stefanovic's neat little sexism experiment - he wore the same blue suit for a year to illustrate how much less men are judged on appearance - will come as no surprise to any woman who has ever gone to a wedding or a black-tie do with a partner.

This is one area where the hoary old cliche is accurate; you spend hours, if not days preparing the perfect outfit, and he rocks up 20 minutes before you're due to leave and throws on a suit after a quick shower. And looks fabulous, possibly better than you do. Such is the magic of a two-piece, or three-piece even. So long as it fits properly, and the cut's decent, there are very few men who are not improved by suiting. Most women only get married to see their boyfriend besuited.

(Morning suits are the exception here, owing to their unfortunate ability to turn any guy into a chinless Tory.) As a rule though, business suits and tuxedos are wonderful. Dashing, and dapper and dignified and deliciously sexy. That is why nobody cared that Stefanovic wore the same blue suit every morning, because it looked so good on him. That doesn't make his point any less valid, of course - that a woman couldn't do what he did and get away with it.

Suits are anonymous in a way dresses and skirts aren't. Think of the black tie function. The women attending will be decked out in all different sorts of plumage, whereas all the men present will be wearing more or less the same penguin outfit. This isn't because of any lack of originality on the part of the gentlemen, it's just the way men's fashion has evolved over the past few centuries. Personally, I think women still get the better end of the bargain. Who wants to slip into the same suit for every function or wedding?

Stefanovic's other point - that his female co-host is judged in a way that he is not also needs addressing. His, experiment, however clever and generously intentioned, is still somewhat disingenuous. He says his co-host is subjected to judgment based on her appearance. Of course she is, but he is too, they're both on breakfast television.

Breakfast TV hosts are expected to be gregarious and charming, it helps if they're also easy to look at first thing in the morning. Stefanovic is a handsome man by any standards, wearing the same (flattering, well-fitting) blue suit every day doesn't diminish his value as eye-candy. He's on display as much as his female co-host, and his suit is no less appealing for being his daily uniform. 

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