Add thongs* for formal wear

Casually kicked off at the beach, or add pearls for the red carpet

Casually kick off at the beach, or add pearls for the red carpet.

Darwin isn’t exactly the fashion capital of Australia. Put it this way. If you go to one of the sailing clubs, there are signs that request you to put on a shirt and some thongs.

There are people who need to be told this.

Of course, not all of us are this sloppy. Some of us even have “going out thongs”. In fact, I have two pairs.

In the Top End, thongs are definitely the footwear of choice: for weddings, red carpet and the workplace. Closed toe shoes are for the back cupboard; you pull them out and wipe off the mould only when you need them for a trip down south.

But when the ABC’s Q and A came to film an episode in Darwin a couple of years ago, the audience members were all sent an email asking them to wear shoes. It caused such a panic that there was a follow up email saying that the double plugger would, in fact, be fine after all. This led local author and audience member Barry Jonsberg to open the questions by asking whether he should “celebrate this concession to the Territory lifestyle or worry that the rest of Australia thinks of us as bogans?”

If the shoe fits, Barry. If the shoe fits.

One of my workmates, Gary, eschews even the double pluggers. He’s obstinately barefoot, with an emergency pair of thongs in the top drawer in case one of the head honchoes should suddenly drop by.

Gary is one of my favourite people at work and an absolute gun at what he does, which means that nobody says too much when he rocks up at work wearing a baseball cap and an Alawa Primary School T-shirt that he found in the op shop. Or a pair of shorts he picked up on the Nightcliff foreshore and then washed.

But that’s not to say that Gary can’t dress for the occasion, when required.

For example:

Gary: Louise, the Prime Minister has just arrived. I’ll go let him in. Back in a mo’.

Louise: OK. Thanks.

She looks up.

Louise: Hang on a second….Gary! Take your hat off! And for God’s sake, put some thongs on!

I just hope the Prime Minister appreciated it.

*Apologies to non-Australian readers who think I am writing about racy underwear.

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