B.C. mayor wears same suit to every meeting for 15 months as social experiment

By The Canadian Press
February 23, 2016 - 10:42am

COQUITLAM, B.C. — A Coquitlam, B.C., mayor wore the same suit to every council meeting for more than a year, and nobody noticed.

Richard Stewart revealed his social experiment on Sunday in a Facebook post.

“I went into my closet and picked out a plain, off-the-rack, boring, dark blue suit. I decided that I’d wear that suit to every Council meeting until someone noticed, until someone commented on it. I told nobody,” wrote the Vancouver-area mayor.

“Over 15 months, nobody had noticed how limited my wardrobe was.”

Stewart said his objective was to learn first-hand about the double standards around dressing for men and women.

“Of course, I can’t imagine anybody suggesting that a woman could get away with wearing the same outfit for more than a year,” he wrote. “But clearly a man could, and did.”

Stewart said his experiment was prompted in part by a female politician who told him she would face criticism if caught wearing the same outfit twice in a week.

He had also read an article about an Australian newscaster who demonstrated “sexist attitudes that prevail in our society” by wearing the same clothing for a year. The anchor, Karl Stefanovic, had lamented that his female co-host gets regular emails and criticisms over her clothing, Stewart said.

“There are double standards in so many aspects of our lives, a different standard for men than for women,” he wrote. “Where this different standard presents a barrier, where this limits the advancement of one group over another, where this prevents our democratic institutions from better reflecting society, we need to remove it.”

The mayor decided to conclude his test last week, but not because someone figured out what he was up to.

A city councillor joked that Stewart didn’t “get the memo” on a day the mayor was still sporting the same blue suit, while three councillors incidentally happened to don grey.

“Let’s not elect our representatives because of the clothes they stand in, but because of what they stand for,” Stewart wrote.

The Canadian Press

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