People often ask me why I wear a lot of green. The answer is twofold.
Firstly, when we were discussing a colour for my campaign in 2012, we considered red (which I used to wear a lot of, and it is the Chinese lucky colour) but decided it was too “angry”.
We considered black, another colour that I was quite fond of wearing, after all, it is very slimming, but that was too dour. Blue could have worked, but belonged to a political party, and I was running as an independent.
Finally, we reflected on Dad’s original campaign colours of green and gold. My sisters asked me not to make them wear “that gold” again, it was terrible on our skin colour and so, green it was. Of course, we didn’t even think of the Greens Political Party or the fact that my main rival also used green in his campaign (sorry Graeme it wasn’t deliberate).
The decision to use green as my campaign colour was a way to honour my Dad and his time as a Lord Mayor. It was a way of including him in this exciting time, which was really only known to my sisters and me, and it was an easy colour to wear for the 120 volunteers who worked on my campaign with me.
To understand why I choose to wear green as my signature colour, you have to understand a little bit about my life prior to becoming the Lord Mayor. I am the 4th daughter in the family and to say that I was a bit of a dag in the dress department would be an understatement.
For the 16 years I worked at the Australia Day Council NT, my daily wardrobe was Katies pull up pants and the Australia Day polo shirt. I would dress up once a year for the Australia Day Gala Ball, and occasionally, if I had to make a cold call on a sponsor I would put on a shift dress made out of Tiwi Design fabric (yes, I was supporting Aboriginal art centres even then), put on a jacket to dress it up and that was it.
I could make a make-up compact last up to two years and would mostly have to throw out makeup as it was too old rather than had run out. I stuck to plain colours as I had a terrible habit of mismatching colours; a talent my father shared, who could forget the pink socks, orange shorts combo? I went to the hairdressers once a year for a trim and slip-on sandals were my shoe of choice.
To say that I was acutely aware of my limitations in the fashion stakes is an understatement. So there I was, the day after the election and it hit me, I would have to look good every day for the next four years….help!
A friend of mine took me out to update my wardrobe, thanks Sam, and gave me advice on emphasising waists, classic pieces and comfortable, but good looking shoes. One of my more fashion-forward sisters gave me this sage piece of advice:
“Choose a colour, stick to it and eventually everything would match.”
I chose green, as I figured it worked for the campaign so why not for the wardrobe. She was right, within 6 months, everything, accessories, makeup, nail polish, all matched. This makes it very easy for me. Remember the pants and polo shirt? By wearing a single colour, I do not have to waste any time on what to wear decisions, I just take the next green frock out of the wardrobe, and I’m ready to go.
While I think it is wrong the way women in leadership positions are often judged by how they look; no one cared when John Howard wore the same daggy tracksuit every morning, but Julia Gilliard’s hairstyle was minutely dissected.
I do believe that the community has an expectation of a certain standard of dress from their Lord Mayor. This has come at a cost though, as I now utilise at least 3 compacts of make-up a year and attend the hairdresser every 6 weeks. Although this is all part of my work, I am unable to claim any personal grooming expenses and yet tradesmen can claim safety boots and tools which are all part of their work expenses, just like make-up is part of mine.
Green has become my signature colour. It has served its purpose to help people recognise me, it honours my father’s memory in a very personal way and it takes the stress out of the day.
Do you have a favourite wardrobe tip to share? Do feel free to share in the comments.