We received a lot of comments from readers about our June 21, 2013 post reporting that Tennessee Judge Royce Taylor had created a dress code for female attorneys. It seems that most commentators lament that such a reminder to dress professionally needs to even be made. They do caution against dress codes being used as an attempt to bully or harass women. We’ve reprinted some of the comments here:
Andi Miller, a lawyer in Sacramento commented:
A young associate of mine was criticized maybe 10 years ago by a California County judge for wearing pants and a coat with no tie. She was mortified. I, who am much older than she, went to that courtroom shortly thereafter wearing almost exactly what she had and was pretty sure I would get no such criticism, and I was right. So the judge wasn’t just committing gender discrimination, he was bullying a much younger woman. I do think that Judge Taylor has a point here, though. He’s talking plain old decorum which seems to have disappeared from the lexicon of some of our youth. I applaud that. I would also like to see the word “professionalism” reincorporated into that lexicon as well.
Reed McGregor, a litigation specialist in the Kansas City area:
Some measure of decorum should be expected from officers of the Court. It’s a shame that some folks need a reminder. On the other hand I know of at least one attorney who bristled at the oft mentioned references to her more than attractive appearance, which is also inappropriate.
One of our Canadian readers had a novel point of view that would definitely insure everyone was held to the same standards.
Mark Geiger, an Employment and Labour lawyer in Toronto noted:
In Canada, males and females wear robes in court. That means, no fashion statements, and everyone is dressed the same way. The robes are black and a black vest is worn under the robes with a white shirt or blouse of standard design with a white tie, which is a wing tie. This makes issues like the one described here non-existent.
Lest we think that there is not even a need for a dress code, this comment from a reader brought home Ms. Miller’s comments that decorum may have disappeared from the collective lexicon:
Claudia Orr, an employment attorney from the Detroit area, said:
I saw a woman walk into court a few weeks ago wearing a hot pink (glow in the dark) tight spandex tank top and short shorts. While it is unlikely that she is an attorney, her attire was still inappropriate. And, while every head in the place turned to follow her, I have to give it to the male judge who never once took his eyes off the attorneys who were in the process of arguing their motion!