This week a cinema in my wife’s home town of Hawera made headlines by banning customers from wearing pyjamas and onesies. At least that’s how some of the media reported it. The actual statement listed dressing gowns and dirty gumboots as the other prohibited items. It’s really about the gumboots and the mess they make. The night attire was added because it might make other customers feel uncomfortable. The same customers perhaps who might also feel uncomfortable with turbans, thongs, burkas, safari suits, kilts, humorous ties, canvas shoes, wigs, hats or swearing on T-Shirts. Who has the right to decide what someone else should wear or not wear?
Legally there aren’t any restrictions on people wearing pyjamas in public and very few restrictions on clothing in general. In England the Crown Prosecution Service has guidelines which state that no action should be taken in cases of naturalism unless there is sexual conduct or an intention to cause alarm or distress. This means that you can travel naked to work, if you so wish, but will then have to consider the dress code imposed by your employer. Most will prohibit nudity but must not discriminate on any of the usual grounds.
Businesses such as pubs, clubs, restaurants and cinemas can legally turn away customers who do not comply with a dress code, provided they apply the restrictions to everyone. There is no consistency, and as the general right to refuse service is being challenged, it is only a matter of time before individual discretion on dress code gives way to definite rules.