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Track suit councillor brings out Lahti fashion police

A recently-elected Finns Party councillor in Lahti turned up for municipal council meetings in training gear. The chairman has called for the councilor to adopt a more traditional dress code.

Kalle Aaltonen
Finns Party councilor Kalle Aaltonen in his controversial sweats. Image: Tanja Perkkiö / Yle

Decked out in gear more commonly seen in the gym, Finns Party Lahti councillor Kalle Aaltonen has caused a stir among his colleagues.

Council chairman, Social Democratic councillor Mika Kari wants to see the city’s business conducted in traditional dress code. He was also concerned that Aaltonen’s free-spirited style signaled the gradual deterioration of good manners and social morés.

“The city council is the highest decision-making organ in Lahti. Dressing suitably for the occasion should be self-evident,” Kari noted.

“Even common sense should remind us that a normal respectable dress code has been part of the history of the city of Lahti. Everyone can decide for himself what smart dressing means. It’s a suit or business attire or something along those lines,” Kari explained.

Members of the city council, however, have more of a free hand with their wardrobe choices than other decision makers, such as members of Parliament. New council members are also concerned about style.

“This doesn’t concern just one council member, but all,” council chair Kari declared.

Not many dress options

The offending councillor, Kari Aaltonen, has defended his sartorial selections, saying that they reflect his personal style – and the limits of dressing for his size.

“I weigh over 130 kilograms, I work out. In eight years I haven’t found any suitable trousers here. I am what I am,” Aaltonen declared.

Aaltonen pointed out that the municipal council doesn’t even have an official dress code.

“I asked about a dress code months ago. At the time I was told to wear clean and tidy clothes. I don’t know, should I have bought jeans that don’t fit? Should I stay away, although I was elected?”

Aaltonen said he is aware that his fashion choices have attracted attention.

"People voted me into the council in these clothes. Some have said that it’s excellent to have a real person among the suits on the council. On the other hand I’ve also been told that I won’t get anything done because of the way I dress,” he added.

Situation unresolved

Councilman Kalle Aaltonen said he can’t promise to change his style for the next municipal meeting.

“I promised to drop 15 kilograms in three months. We’ll see then if I can get any other kind of trousers to fit,” he added.

However council chair Mika Kari maintains his position that everyone must conform to the rules.

“I want to remind council members that we are a team with our own shared way of doing things. Therefore no one can be elevated above the rest by saying that ‘This is how I do things and everyone else had better get used to it’. Courtesy means consideration for others. We should pay attention to how we dress, how we speak to others, and even speak to them formally,” Kari advised.

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