Published On: Wed, Apr 11th, 2018

A lot of hogwash

Hilbert HaarBy Hilbert Haar

Khadija Arb, the chairlady of the Second Chamber in The Hague was not amused when she spotted Peter Kwint, a member of the Socialist Party faction on Wednesday.

Where is your jacket? Arib asked.

Kwint had the gall to appear in Parliament dressed in a grey V-neck tee shirt, showing the tattoos on his arms. The MP quipped that he had a very slow washing machine and an extremely bad dry cleaner.

The spokesman on education for the SP was in the past on the receiving end of criticism from fellow-parliamentarian Thierry Baudet who wondered out loud why Kwint opted to dress as the member of a youth gang.

Arib has no plans to force Kwint into a jacket. According to the Telegraaf she is of the opinion that members of Parliament have to dress representatively, but she is not going to establish a dress code. It is questionable whether that is even possible, the paper wrote. The rules of order do not contain a dress code for members of Parliament.

Fast forward to Philipsburg, where the government has placed a sign near the entrance of the administration building on Pond Island with..... guess what, a dress code.

If you study those rules carefully, you quickly realize that the authors of the dress code have opened the door for rather hilarious appearances.

The sign reads: “All visitors must dress appropriately when visiting the official government offices. The following forms of clothing are deemed inappropriate: …”

What follows is a list of nine clothing items, each depicted in a red circle with a diagonal line through it. The message is clear: all these items are a big no-no in government-land.

House Rules Government Building

So now we know what is prohibited wear in the government building: shorts, short skirts, sundresses, slippers (flip-flops, sandals), tee shirts, sagging pants, tank tops, sun glasses and jersey tops.

There is a Dutch expression that goes as follows: Wie een kuil graaft voor een ander valt er zelf in. Basically it says: what goes around comes around – and it is easy to see how this dress code could inspire naughty citizens to drive the civil servants who came up with these rules completely crazy.

Why?

Because we figure that all clothing items that are not on the display with the government’s dress code are not forbidden and therefore allowed.

Swimwear is, according to the dress code, not explicitly forbidden, so it seems to be okay to show up for an appointment in your swimming trunks or your bikini. I wonder what the pencil pushers at the government building would have to say about that one. Maybe they’ll come up with a larger sign next week to include swimming trunks and bikinis.

And then the ban on short skirts. My question: what exactly is a short skirt? Is that a millimeter above the knee, a centimeter, ten centimeters, twenty centimeters? And are security guards going to measure whether a skirt is short? Without clear guidelines, this is going to be an embarrassment.

Also funny: no tee shirts. Okay, we get that. But in that case polo shirts must be permitted. Right? After all polo shirts are not tee shirts, otherwise we would call them tee shirts. And do those security guards know the difference between a tee shirt and a polo shirt? Just a thought.

Oh, ladies, pay attention. See through blouses and see through dresses are not on the list of banned clothing items either. So if you’re in an exhibitionist mood one day, go and experiment a bit with those items from your wardrobe.

Make sure to bring a friend to record all the commotion with a cell phone.

On a serious note: I’m with Khadija Arib on this one. Dress codes are a lot of hogwash. Rely on people’s common sense and treat them like adults for God’s sake.

Image caption:  House Rules Government Administration Building. Image sintmaartengov.org

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