French style takes a nosedive in Parliament

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Is this the end of French attention to personal style as we know it? MP François Ruffin of the populist La France Insoumise (Rebellious France) party was fined after he showed up in Parliament wearing a football shirt, flouting the long-unwritten rule that Members of Parliament should dress appropriately when present in the legislative body.

Seriously, François? Who do you think you are, an American? What’s next, jean shorts and a John Deere baseball cap? Monsieur, nobody is going to take you seriously when you show up in Parliament looking like you’re getting ready for a day of eating hot wings in front of the television.

One of the things I have always loved about Europe, or most of Europe anyway, is that one can dress with a little bit of panache for just walking down the street or going to the corner boulangerie.

Parliament’s dress code has until now been largely unwritten, with most Parliamentarians having the common sense to not go over the top. Most recently, since President Macron’s party won the majority, ties have been optional, which I can understand – the suit-and-open-collar look is still looks good, without being too sloppy. But Monsieur Ruffin took it too far and spoiled it for everyone, and now the speaker has imposed written rules. Wisely, the new rules preserve the flexibility of wearing a jacket without a tie, and even allows jacket-less Parliamentarians to enter, but specifically prohibits T-shirts, sportswear and other ultra-casual items that nobody really wants to see their legislators wearing. One would think that in France at least, rules like these shouldn’t need to be written down.

(Photo by BB 22385 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74894621)

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