In this day and age, gendered dress rules seem silly and outdated, especially when we’re talking about venues where people are supposed to be having relaxed fun.
Last year, the Victoria Racing Club removed the rule that required men to wear socks, mainly in line with changing trends but it also removed one of its many silly gendered fashion rules (in members’ areas, men are still required to wear a suit).
Before clubs across Australia fall in step with the Sunshine Coast, as they likely will, let’s take a look at the much-maligned singlet and why it was probably banned in the first place.
First, men are more likely to be wearing a singlet that has seen better days, or has a beer company’s logo emblazoned on it, or has a few holes from going through the wash too many times. (“But I was wearing it when I got my first shag! It’s my lucky singlet!”)
On the other hand, there are plenty of singlets that cost a bomb, and look better than a raggedy old T-shirt that was last worn to paint the fence on the weekend, turps stains and all. And yet, the T-shirt makes it past the bouncers and the singlet-wearer is left crying at the door.
Singlets are tricky because like thongs, they can be hard to define. Once a thong has a heel, does it become a sandal? Similarly, where does a singlet stop being a singlet and start being something else, say a T-shirt, or a crop top?
Tanks, crops, racers, muscle tees, Chestys. These are all essentially words for the same thing, according to the strictest application of the clubs’ draconian rules. But in reality they are quite different.
A quick search of fashion e-commerce website The Iconic shows 841 singlet and muscle tee styles for women but only 289 styles for men. So while women have more options when it comes to singlets, it seems silly that they’re the only ones who should be able to wear them while enjoying a bevvy.
In the days when surf clubs tried to position themselves as a classier alternative to the local pub, the dress code made more sense. The idea was probably borne from the fact that they didn’t want tradies, who back then were almost exclusively male, walking straight off the work site and into the bar. Women, on the other hand, were welcome to wear a strappy dress or top to help lift the standards (and it proved valuable eye candy).
But in 2018, dress standards based on gender, when it’s universally agreed there are more than two, just feel anachronistic.
Better the clubs create clearer definitions of what constitutes a singlet (and thongs and shorts while they’re at it), and apply them to everyone, or simply apply “neat casual” standards across the board, sleeves or not.
Fashion has moved on since the 1970s, and so should they.