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Victoria Mole
28 May, 2009  
Dressing to solicit

The law is not a sartorial hotspot … The message is – you will never be any good as a lawyer unless your clothes blend into a sea of monotones

imageThe economy is crumbling, the environment choking, pandemics are zipping quicker around the planet than our Prime Minister and the great legal minds of the world are talking about … boobs ... again.

Boobs in the courtroom to be precise. And tracksuit pants. And other couturial choices of the legal profession.

Can’t say I’ve ever personally lost sleep over the issue. And this is from a junior lawyer who spends a disconcerting proportion of her working life in those great sartorial hotspots of suburban Magistrates’ Courts.

With my tendency to come out in a full body rash when asked to quote legislative section numbers, I personally choose to conceal my Rudolphesque bosoms with jaunty pussy-bow blouses and a selection of faux Parisian scarves.

Sometimes I adopt a thematic palette: green for environmental cases, purple for discrimination, red to play up the gore, pink to bemuse rural solicitors who weren’t aware they were giving practising certificates to women these days.

Under a jacket of course. All the better to hide the sweat patches, my dear.

Most women I’ve appeared against take the same tack, albeit with more lashings of Melbourne black than Rainbow Bright attempts at cognitive programming.

And while there are certainly more attractive people in the world than the men I appear against, their clothing is extreme only in its dullness.

There ain’t no boobs to cry on after a lashing from a viper-tongued judge in a Melbourne court.

The same goes back in the office at the Firm. Just tasteful sobriety in suffocating quantities.

That said, when lawyers do try to shake it up a bit, it rarely floats my boat. Men in pink shirts?

imageTan suits? “Edgy” coloured polo shirts with your chinos on Friday? Please … yes, you are all individuals.

Money can’t buy style.

What about a cheeky coloured kerchief? A debonair vest or a Mad Men style hat and coat to boot.

Or imagine an office filled with the colourful curves of Ms Holloway’s dresses (snap). Would make a nice change from being dazzled by high-beam tandoori tans in the depths of winter.

I had the great pleasure of hearing Justice Betty King speak at a women in the law function some years ago when she looked out over a sea of grey and willed the women in the room to be more spectacular.

From memory, she was wearing a dashing purple ensemble.

The poor taste of comparing anything in the last 50 years to Nazi Germany aside, it was as aesthetically shocking as the little red coat against the black-and-white shot Schindler’s List.

imageBut why? It isn’t a spectrum from booby tracks to grey. Why do we have these ideas of what lawyers should look like? Why are purple suits, beards, mad curls, flamboyant scarves, afros, nose studs, diamante-studded glasses and technicolour dreamcoats a reflection on someone’s ability to analyse precedents?

Perhaps the legal profession would become less dull and predictable in its thinking if it elected to see the world through rose-coloured glasses (snap) once in a while?

Cin cin, sweetie darlings.



Reader Comments

Posted by: Anonymous
Date: May 29, 2009, 1:36 am

Being of the beardy persuasion myself, I sympathise with the view that it is ridiculous to place such emphasis on homogenous dress within the business and legal communities. Surely, a penchant for pastel has no bearing on whether you are good at your job. The number of pairs of boatshoes you possess is not directly proportional to the quality of your work. A friend of mine is a partner at a Melbourne firm which has ABSOLUTELY NO DRESSCODE. Whatever you want, every day of the week. And not that 'business casual' rubbish either anything from ripped jeans, trainers and your favourite old tee shirt to those who only deign to flaunt one-off 'pieces'. As far as I know, the pillars of legal reasoning didn't implode and they didn't lose all their clients to more 'professionally' dressed firms. In fact, it seems morale at the firm is quite high. I wonder why. Who knew a relaxed atmosphere would help make a pleasant and productive workplace! Idiots.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: May 31, 2009, 8:34 pm

See Dubow's life as a Sydney Lawyer, finally brought to a screeching Halt by the mere possession of a pink sequined number when told by the acting prothonotary that Leopard print Italian designer trousers and a black skivvy were not suitable to sit in an office an repossess blighter's homes as a Registrar of the Supreme Court!
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: May 31, 2009, 8:35 pm

Tartan tie-your-own bow ties not good enough for you girlie? I must say, however, I did resist Kirby P's (as he then was) blandishments to wear my kilt into the Court of Appeal.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: May 31, 2009, 8:35 pm

Reminds me of the old apocryphal tale from England about the barrister who appeared before a crusty old judge in a yellow waistcoat. Every time he tried to make a submission, the judge is alleged to have said " I cannot see you Mr...". Kym Connell
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: June 10, 2009, 9:27 am

Ha ha, I love this...