Gussy Up Your Robes

Look good, even when you're wearing something from the 16th century
Look good, even when you're wearing something from the 16th century

Yes. Your robes. Not your bathrobes, your court robes. You know, those incredibly feminine holdovers from the practice of law in the 16th century.

If you practice downtown and walk around in your court jacket and shirt, it isn’t that bad. People who work near courthouses are used to the sight of our little get-ups. But venture a little farther east or west for lunch and you will likely have someone asking you what the soup of the day is.

Some people think that showing up at court looking like shit is like a badge of honour. “Look at me! I stayed up all night crafting impressive legal arguments and couldn’t be bothered with niceties like brushing my teeth or combing my hair. I’m a real litigator! Or LTGTR, as my licence plate says!”

Don’t be that person. Fashionista doesn’t like them.

There are ways you can bring glamour to your court finery without sacrificing legal substance. Here are a few tips:

Wear heels. I can count on one finger the number of female judges who wear sassy feminine heels under their own robes. I say, if at least one judge is doing it, it’s ok for you to do it too! But I insist, the shoes must be black, and the heel not of the “come f@$k me” variety.

Lipgloss/Lipstick.  Adds a little polish and provides a lovely visual frame for the oh-so-intelligent submissions coming out of your mouth. No blood red please. You are not the Gwen Stefani of the legal world.

Fancy Trouser Socks. I have talked before about seeing a colleague wearing fishnet trouser socks under her court pants. I thought it looked fabulous. The judge will never see them so don’t worry about looking inappropriate. Just a little fashionable flash for the gallery behind you.

Do the Hair. And I mean “do” your hair. I know, you spent all night writing out your submissions and doing your costs forms. No excuse. Put it in a sleek ponytail if you don’t have the time to straighten it properly. Hair accessories should be kept to a minimum. And for god’s sake, don’t put a stupid pen in your hair to hold your bun in place.

Iron your Tabs. It would seem self-evident, wouldn’t it? Have a look around next time you are in court. Tabs get smushed down into your robe bag and hauled out at court time all wrinkly. Here’s a tip: keep them in your Rules book so they stay nice and flat, or send them to the dry cleaners with your shirt. Nothing worse than tabs that don’t lie flat against the bosom.

I say we bring back the wigs too. But not the powder white ones. You should be able to choose whatever wig you want. An updo one day, perhaps an elegant chignon in auburn.  Then for a particularly tough summary judgment motion, long black hair with side-swept bangs that you can peek through whilst you pound your hand on the podium. Just a thought for the next round of Bencher elections.

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