SCG hemline debacle: should anyone be surprised?

The SCG Members Stand sticking to tradition on dress codes.

The SCG Members Stand sticking to tradition on dress codes. Photo: Brendan Esposito

For those of us opposed to the withering boredom of cricket, there is a satisfying sense of schadenfreude in watching as sartorial scandal descends upon one of its most hallowed of Australian institutions.

In an act of defiance worthy of Jean Shrimpton herself, Sydney solicitor Lynda Reid late last week attempted to fraternise in the grounds of the Sydney Cricket Club with brazen disregard for the fact she was wearing a skirt that showed her knees. Her knees! Who knows what hell might have been unleashed had she not been quickly shooed away from the Members Stand before the sight of her devil's elbows could hypnotise our smartly dressed lads in white.

The SCG is no ordinary club. It is a respected institution that flows with the kind of money that goes right back to the late 19th century. And here we have a modern-day strumpet, flouting the laws of decency and privilege that have been the proud hallmark of one of Sydney's most enduring institutions. Disgraceful.

Hemline precedent: Spectators at the Sydney Cricket Ground for the tour match between NSW and England on 18 November 1936.

Hemline precedent: Spectators at the Sydney Cricket Ground for the tour match between NSW and England on 18 November 1936.

In reality, my interest in the indignities and injustice suffered by Ms Reid is about on par with my interest in the game of cricket itself. I am more absorbed by the cheese going off in my fridge than in obnoxious traditions and the people who pay a lot of money to participate in them. Surely once we ''lift the hemline'' on this ''scandal'', we can see it for what it is? Namely, an example of what happens when bourgeois pretensions to class collide with modernity, and find that sometimes even money isn't enough to buy entitlement.

Ms Reid may have suffered embarrassment last Sunday, but I'm at a loss to understand how or why anyone would take up their pitchforks on this and accuse the SCG Trust of gross sexism. Of course the club is sexist. It is rooted in the values of money and class - two things that have always walked hand in hand with conservative ideals. Surely people don't believe that the most offensive thing about an organisation to which some of its highest level members (of who Reid's father is one) pay upwards of $30,000 to join is that it balks at the flashing of a woman's knees?

The SCG has a general members waiting list of 12 years. When you have waited out your time and been invited to join your similarly inclined brethren, you will be asked to pay a one-off fee of $1100 (or $1500 if you want guest access). Following this, your membership options are split into the following annual fees: $543 for basic entry and $977 for access to the members' stands. ''Gold'' members pay a one-off fee of $10,000 for single cards and $20,000 for double (both of which can be passed down for one inheritance, the inclusion of which illustrates a respect for lineage, particularly valued by the wealthy).

Cutting it too fine: Lynda Reid's now infamous floral dress.

Cutting it too fine: Lynda Reid's now infamous floral dress. Photo: Supplied

And for those members seeking just a teensy bit more exclusivity in their dinner-party conversations, there is the ''Platinum'' membership. It is just like the Gold, but bigger and more expensive. Plus you get four shiny cards to share with people who might not have so much money they can literally piss it up a wall just so everyone else can see the gold sparkles glistening in it.

Confronted with the monumental excess in which the members of the SCG willingly participate, you will forgive me for not caring much about management's disdain for Ms Reid's skirt length.

This is a club that has built its reputation partly on the notion of ''respectability'', making very clear that its sartorial requirements in this area are reflective of the brand of ''class'' that comes built in to a pressed collar and appropriate hemline.

It is this so-called respectability that reassures members that they will be taken care of, protected from the kind of riff-raff that spoil otherwise jaunty days out with their inappropriate clothing and distinct lack of a private-school education.

As Reid protested in response to her ejection: "I am a corporate solicitor. I know what is appropriate and not. I am not some hick from wherever.''

You can almost hear the outraged burble coming from beneath those words. Don't you know who I am?

She has since decided to part company with the SCG, removing her two sons from its road-to-Mordor-like waiting list in a move that will surely irreparably damage their future standing at the Australian Club.

She remains aghast at the SCG's failure to apologise, complaining that the problem is a lack of clarity of the dress code and their tendency to make up ''unwritten rules'' on the spot. The irony is almost too delicious. It might not be cricket, Old Boy, but it sure is fun to watch.

7 comments so far

  • As numerous people have already pointed out in other articles on this, there is a dress code for both sexes and as is often the case the mens is actually stricter than that for women. You could argue the point as to whether her dress falls foul of the dress code or not, as is often the case the language (no doubt drafted by a corporate solicitor) is open to interpretation which is normally the intention, but pretty clearly the stewards on duty felt that the dress in question was on the wrong side of it.

    As to whether there should be a dress code or not, there are dress codes for work, for weddings, for restaurants, for nightclubs etc, I don't see why a club that you have to pay to be a member of shouldn't be able to have their own dress code. If you don't like it, don't join the club.

    Commenter
    Hurrow
    Date and time
    January 09, 2014, 10:13AM
    • Wow, for once I wholeheartedly agree with you.

      Commenter
      Belinda
      Date and time
      January 09, 2014, 10:53AM
      • But, but but she's a lawyer! Not just some hick!

        Men have to wear collars and pants, women have to wear "respectable" dresses.

        Don't like the rules, guess what? You don't have to be a member.

        As for what rich people do with their money, couldn't care less. Not my business and this whole incident is not sexist in the slightest.

        Commenter
        Freddie Frog
        Date and time
        January 09, 2014, 12:33PM
        • I felt confused when seeing this story on the news, because although recognising the restriction of women's clothing and modesty standards are inherently sexist, I was more outraged by the woman's comment about being "a lawyer and not some hick".

          Commenter
          overthinker
          Date and time
          January 09, 2014, 1:25PM
          • Imposing modesty standards on women isn't sexist if the same standards are imposed on men. I don't think a man wearing this dress would be admitted into the members area either.

            Commenter
            Chris
            Date and time
            January 09, 2014, 2:48PM
        • The website is actually quite clear so I don't understand how she could get it wrong. Considering she isn't 'some hick' she should be able to read. This is taken directly from the SCG website.

          Sydney Cricket Ground Members Pavilion - Unacceptable
          Shorts
          Dresses, skirts or pants above knee-length

          Commenter
          Mrsevans
          Location
          melbourne
          Date and time
          January 09, 2014, 2:08PM
          • Well I am not a cricket fan but the SCG needs to look at it rules. Living in the past. Ms Reid has tested the waters just like we all did when we had to fight to wear pants in the office. Congrats to her for this. However her comment that she is not a hick.......well all the hicks from the country do love their cricket so they might take offence?

            Commenter
            Iris
            Date and time
            January 09, 2014, 5:35PM

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