The distraction of cleavage

Since she took power in the year that this blog started (that’s 2010, for any new readers… ), the prime minister’s sartorial work choices have been the subject of public debate and numerous articles- I just found 23,800,000 search results on the Google. I am a business fashion blogger but I’ve tried to stay out of commenting on Julia Gillard’s corporate attire preferring instead to follow her policies. Believe it or not, I am ultimately more interested in a leader’s substance than style. However somewhat flabbergasting comments on her cleavage have opened me up on the manner.

<<Click here to read about Gillard’s work fashion and the Convoy of Cleavage or get in deeper over on>>

On Sunday AFR columnist and IR consultant Grace Collier told the ABC’s Radio National that she thought that the Prime Minister inappropriately shows cleavage in Parliament. Something that confused me when reading the transcript is that Collier starts off by stating that she’s “never heard anyone attacking her [Gillard] for being a woman” then follows that up with “I don’t think it is appropriate for a Prime Minister to be showing her cleavage in parliament.”

Grace Collier Tweet Gillard Cleavage

Collier demonstrates her own good taste by tweeting this image and her thoughts on the Prime Minister’s cleavage. Photo Source

What? Whoa!

At the time that I was writing this piece, there was also a tweet suggesting that the above image was photoshopped.

Blogger Jennifer at No Place for Sheep appears to be the co-founder of the #ConvoyOfCleavage movement on Twitter – anyone who is outraged by Collier’s comments is invited to submit photos of their cleavage (or any other body part) as a way of showing solidarity with the PM. I think it’s great to see that some men have joined the movement.

busichic julia gillard

A photo collage that I chose not to tweet earlier this year – I had a week where the PM and I were almost work outfit twins…

That said I won’t be jumping aboard the convoy myself; showing cleavage, particularly at work, is inconsistent with my personality. And quite honestly, I am one of those people who finds excessive amounts of cleavage (a hint is fine, but the whole “crack”?) in the workplace is a distraction. It’s not a sexual one. It’s a “I beg your pardon I can see your bum/breast cleavage and I will now avert my eyes until you fix yourself up – oh wait, that’s intentional?”

Unlike Collier however, I’ve never found myself thinking that the PM inappropriately shows cleavage and I don’t jump on the judgmental-finger-waving wagon. In my experience, the people who are showing cleavage at work feel that they are dressed in something that makes them comfortable, authentically themselves and yes even professional. And I like to think that I am respectful and professional enough to focus on eyes and hands and the work that we are discussing on the table.

CristyClark tweet convoy of cleavage

This tweet shed light on the ConvoyOfCleavage movement for me.

@CristyClark’s tweet that “telling a woman to be discreet with her breasts is code for saying she doesn’t belong in public  life” really interested me. I don’t entirely agree with the statement but if this is how people have interpreted Collier’s comments and that’s what the convoy is about, here are some ways to get on board:

What to wear for the #ConvoyOfCleavage:

  • a wrap-around dress without a slip underneath
Wrap-around dress queen, Diane Von Furstenburg wearing her icnoic cleavage-showcasing creation Source

Wrap-around dress queen, Diane Von Furstenburg wearing her iconic cleavage-showcasing creation. Source

marilyn monroe white sleeveless blouse

If you think that it’s appropriate to get on the ConvoyOfCleavage at work, I think that the famously curvy Monroe does a great job here. Source


  • anything with a sweetheart neckline

HRH in a very demure sweetheart neckline .Source

  • or simply an unbuttoned shirt.
ryan gosling white shirt

Ok Ryan Gosling could do a better job of showing his cleavage… Source

Gillard’s not the first female leader to be pilloried for her cleavage, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, stirred up controversy in a gown that she wore out-of-hours o the opera.

In 2008, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cleavage caused controversy when she wore this frock to the opera.

In 2008, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cleavage caused controversy when she wore this frock to the opera.

I’d be interested to know how many people feel it’s appropriate to jump aboard the convoy while at work. If you have photos of yourself looking fabulous in a cleavage-showcasing ensemble, please send to me along with details of your outfit cheryl[at]

Going forward, I’ll be spending more time exploring the work styles of our leaders. Afterall what better way to explore how to dress authentically for a professional environment? Personally I think that the Governor General dresses well for her role and looks comfortable and authentic in her attire. Similarly I’ve heard that Joe Hockey has been working out and am interested to follow up and see whether he is wearing suits that fit him properly. Are there any leaders (local or internationally) that you think I should feature?


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  1. Hi Cheryl,

    Lovely post. I have a cream blazer I think of my PM JG blazer.

    Something to keep in mind is that when you are buxom things move. So a neckline that looks fine in the mirror in the morning can look a little Las Vegas when it all “settles” as the day progresses. This happens especially when you bend and write as the deputy PM (as she was then) was doing in the offending photo.

    Necklines that can be very modest on women with smaller chests can get a little “milkmai”d on those of us with larger ones. Shopping can be tricky!

    I think the key is to be kind to each other- especially women to other women (and look each other in the eye not the nipple)

    Siggy x

    • Hi Siggy, what a lovely comment- thank you.

      And you are so right – just recently I wore a cowl-neck top to work and it was only later in the day that I caught a glimpse of my reflection and noticed a bit more on display than I’d intended. Yikes! Which goes to show how tricky this dressing-for-work thing can be and why it helps to all work together – and thank goodness to not be under the scrutiny aimed at our pollies!

  2. Goodness me! What a palaver this IR consultant has started!

    In Prime Minister Gillard’s tenure, and even in her role as Deputy, I do struggle to recall images of such outfits baring her cleavage. When I think of our nation’s leader’s wardrobe, I think of well structured suits and dresses baring hardly any skin at all.
    Like your nod to Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, I feel both women dress respectfully for their roles.

    Emma before me makes a valid point in regard to Tony Abbott and the myriad of shots in his Speedos – how many more poses can our eyes take!?

  3. We’ve seen more of Tony Abbott while he is ‘on the job’ promoting himself in his speedos. We’ve never seen a female minister or govener general at the beach, and I can guarantee it is because they’d be bashed for showing their bodies.

    • 🙁

      Funny how the only other politician who comes to mind for me for self-promotion-whilst-exercising is John Howard. Are there any female polis who do this?

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