I had occasion to go to Federal court this morning. The court hears general motions for its criminal dockets on Friday mornings. I was there early, to take care of something before the general motions started, and so I had opportunity to sit in the lobby and watch all of the people coming in.
First thing I noticed: You can tell non-lawyers from lawyers, and you can tell new lawyers from seasoned lawyers. It’s a given that ALL of the lawyers will be in suits. It’s just NOT APPROPRIATE to show up in Federal court in something less than formal business attire if you are a lawyer. That whole “officer of the court” thing and all. You can tell the newbies because — if they’re women, they’re wearing pantyhose and sensible black pumps, and let’s be honest, probably a black interview suit — and if they’re men, they are carrying a very non-beat-up attache case and probably that same black interview suit. I like to think I was a bit of an enigma — yes, I had on a black suit (because dove gray linen didn’t strike me as quite appropriate, and those are my only two options that fit right now), but I also had on silver and black metallic flats, a kelly green cotton tank, and most importantly, pants instead of a skirt. (You’re crazy if you think I’m wearing hose in this weather.) And my male cohort was wearing a dark grey suit, a flashy green striped tie, and carried only his keys.
Anyway, what we were wearing is not important. The point is, you can quickly tell who’s who.
The second thing I noticed: Non-lawyers…. Show some respect for the judiciary! Each outfit I saw was worse than the next. Now, setting aside the fact that I didn’t particularly care for the outfits themselves, I’m talking from here on out solely about the appropriateness of the attire for a FEDERAL COURTHOUSE, where, presumably either you or your family member is accused of committing a FEDERAL CRIME.
Here’s a sampling of what I saw:
- cotton leggings with an oversized t-shirt
- black pants with lucite heels (Mags’ refresher on lucite heels here)
- skinny jeans and a cropped t-shirt (bare stomach! in OPEN COURT!!!)
- cotton leggings with an undersized shirt
- and so on….
Now look, I like leggings as much as the next woman. (That would also include more than Mags and Idgie.) I have a few pairs. I get it — they’re comfy, they’re trendy. And I also get that I am a stuffy lawyer. But seriously — it’s Federal court! You are on trial! Wouldn’t it make sense to show some respect for the situation you’re in and dress properly!? I’m not asking for a suit — especially if you don’t have one. I don’t need you to spend more money. But somewhere in your closet you have to have a pair of slacks, or a dress you once wore to church or to a wedding. Presumably, at some point in your life you worked somewhere. Even at McDonald’s the employees wear black slacks. (Not that I go a lot or anything.) Wear those. I don’t care if they are polyester or worsted wool; just wear REAL PANTS. And tuck your shirt in! Even just a polo shirt would be fine. Court is not the place to be a trendsetter! I feel like I should not have to rant about this, but based on what I saw today, clearly I do. I think I could make a serious business out of hanging outside of courthouses and instructing people on what is and is not appropriate to where to one of the most serious venues you’ll ever visit.
We are --
We work hard; we play hard too.
And we drive our husbands crazy --
We can't all be trophy wives.