The archetype of the Aussie blue-collar bloke has taken a battering in recent years.
Beleaguered by the forces of metrosexuality and political correctness, he’s just not what he used to be.
And now, to add insult to (avoid) injury, he’s obliged to spend his working day dressed like a member of a Devo revival band.
You must have noticed packs of men clad in safety-orange jumpsuits interrupted by strips of reflective fabric.
While these outfits do serve a purpose (improving visibility, protecting employers from litigation) I can’t help but pity the Australian working-class man, once the subject of song and object of admiration.
Now, dressed in his neon-yellow vest, coordinating hardhat and little boot protectors, he frankly looks ridiculous.
Construction workers aren’t the only ones who’ve fallen prey to this push.
Couriers, delivery men -“ pretty much anyone whose occupation requires proximity to traffic -“ have been forced to go shopping for safety separates.
The classic singlet has been replaced by a polo shirt with -¦ 5cm width reflective taping around body and over each shoulder [in] hydro transfer-moisture management material.
That description comes from King Gee, icon of Australian blokewear.
Clearly, nothing is sacred.
They’re but one of many companies cashing in on this enforced dress code, which has created an array of options.
While the reflective strips on this particular polo shirt give the disconcerting impression that you’re wearing a disco backpack, there are countless other variations on the theme.
One little-mentioned side effect of this revolution is the impact it’s had on gay men who engage in butch costume drama.
Think you look hard in that navy singlet-Stubbies combo?
Sorry, luv, but you look neither rough nor engaged in any trade other than the collection of vintage workwear.
Having said that, I’ve yet to see a poofter pull off the safety look without first being mistaken for a Mardi Gras parade marshal.
And there’s always the danger of the garments’ high visibility working against you.
How ironic you should be run over by some outraged stylist who thinks you look like a bloody idiot.