A reporter was asked to leave the High Court at Wellington for wearing sequinned pants. To a murder trial. (Full disclaimer - I own disco pants too, but like men in black tie, false eyelashes and feather boas, in my funny old world they're brought out after 5pm.)
I know the visceral shame of being singled out by a judge for unwanted attention. As a young Auckland Star reporter covering the District Court, I whispered some response to the reporter sitting beside me on the press benches.
"Is that conversation necessary," thundered the judge. Who is he talking to? Me? Surely not. Even the soles of my feet blushed. If I'd been in sequinned pants you would have heard a single sequin drop. Except I would never, ever have worn sequin pants to any court, to any trial.
Courts are meant to be intimidating, designed to instil a sense of higher authority. Those columns, high-ceilinged lobbies, risings and sittings and gavels are not code for "take your ease, relax".
The barrister may well be wearing a Looney Tunes tie under his gown but that's for his chambers to know, not us. And you can bet he's instructed his male client to wear a suit, or his female one the least revealing top she owns. And if you're there in any role other than sitting in the public gallery, your clothing should acknowledge the environment.
If this quashes personal expression, to that I say, suck it up. Personalise all you like out of office hours. But if you're in a job that requires a dress standard - whether it's safety boots or a shirt that reaches all the way to your waistband - then that's part of the deal you've made when you signed up.
Like language, dress standards change and adapt. We don't address the boss by an honorific any more and sequins have been turning up in daylight hours for the past five years. I admit I struggle with this.
To me, they still say evening but, more and more, they're moonlighting as corporate wear - your average magazine office sparkles on any grey old Tuesday.
Note though that there are still descriptors there that say "corporate". Jacket. Heel. I still have a jacket at work. It's a habit instilled by crusty old news editors now well retired - today may be the day you're sent to meet the prime minister.
Highly unlikely that my role today would take me into the PM's orbit, but hard to change the habit of a working lifetime. I once didn't hire a man because of his shoes. Actually that wasn't the only reason. I'm not that facile. He also smelt awful, confusing using lots of perfume for a good session with soap and hot water. But it was the grubby, unpolished shoes that did it.
There were plenty of people looking for work with his skills, so we weren't cutting off our noses, just saving them from further assault. Call me facile but we didn't have to take the man who didn't care enough to give his shoes the once-over.
Because that's what it is. Caring. Caring enough to show that you get this place, that you want to be part of this team. If you're not provided with a uniform, your daily choice of wardrobe identifies you as a contender, or not.
During the worse months of the GFC, the menswear chain 3 Wise Men sold more shirts and ties than they'd forecast. Mostly, as it turned out, to younger guys keen to look more serious about their work. Engaged, focused, don't pick me for the redundancy list.
Once New Zealand women grasp hold of a fashion moment they like, we tend to hold it for years. Dresses over pants - possibly invented here, cycled in and out of style elsewhere but we've never let it go. Likewise jeans tucked into boots. They came, they never went away. Given this, the court may need to learn to embrace disco pants before dark.
Kirsty Cameron is editorial director - lifestyle titles of NZ Magazines. She is a former editor of In Style.