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Dressing down for WA Club

HORROR of horrors. The venerable Western Australian Club has dropped its jacket and tie rule.

The rule, in place throughout the club's 108-year history, has gone because its committee thought it was losing the club too much money. One estimate put the loss at about $100,000 a year.

Admittedly, the club's down-stairs Diggers and Dealers Bar has been jacket and tie-free for some time and members have been allowed to (shudder) use their mobile phones there.

WA Club CEO J Barrey Williams said the changing dress standards in many of Perth's professional firms had forced the change.

"As a committee we recognised a number of our members weren't able to use the club because of the way they were dressed," Mr Williams said.

"In many cases a smart pair of trousers and a business shirt without a tie would preclude them from using our restaurants. But that's the sort of thing people are wearing to work these days.

"There is no question this has cost the club everything from a quick cup of coffee to a full business lunch."

Law firm Freehills and accountants PriceWater-house Coopers and Deloittes Touche Tohmatsu are among the major professional firms to adopt a casual dress code.

WA Club members have been told the new dress standard throughout all areas of the club is "business casual" or "relaxed professional".

But no denim, shorts, sneakers or boat shoes are allowed at any time and mobile phone use is restricted to the foyer and the Diggers and Dealers Bar.

So far the club has not received any complaints from members. Mr Williams said the casual dress code was not an attempt to attract more members.

The club's membership has risen from 600 to around 2,000 since it returned to St Georges Terrace after its brief sojourn on The Esplanade.

Mr Williams said the club's half-price membership for under 30s had proved successful.

The Weld Club secretary Russell Fini refused to comment on whether the establishment venue had any plans to relax its dress standards.

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