The dress code in every profession means something. For most professions, the role of the dress code is to reveal confidence, discipline, and professionalism. People recognize a particular professional based on their dress code and attire. The lawyers have a dress code that consists of a black robe or coat, a white shirt, and a white neckband.
The current dress code of lawyers in India is based on the Advocates Act, 1961 governed by the Bar Council of India. The act makes it mandatory for the lawyers to wear a black robe or coat with a white shirt and a white neckband.
For law aspirants whether doing CLAT preparation, law entrance coaching, or pursuing graduation, it is important to know about the lawyer’s dress code and its evolution. So, let’s talk about various aspects and evolution of the dress code of lawyers.
Seasonal Dress Code for Lawyers
In the seventeenth century, the dress code for lawyers, clerks, and judges was decided on the basis of the taste and preferences of the country. The rules used to specify the colour, fabric, and length of the dress. These colours could be changed as per the seasons and weekdays. For instance, the Monarch could finalize the dress code differently for autumn, spring, etc. The dress code for judges was a violet silk gown with silky cuffs, with a matching hood and mantle.
Gown and Wig
At the end of the seventeenth century, the dress code was changed after the death of King Charles II. The new dress code was a wig and a gown to show the degree of anonymity. Lawyers and judges had to follow the dress code which was considered fashionable at that time.
From 1680 to the next 150 years, wigs and gowns were the uniforms for lawyers and judges. The colour of the wig was typically white or grey. In the 19th century, this uniform was no longer fashionable. The wig hair was made of whitish-grey hair of horse, goat, or human. Its benefit was that there was no need for the lawyers to curl, perfume, or powder the wig.
Although this uniform has gone away from India, but Counsel of Queen and High Court judges in Britain still wear the wigs for ceremonies. This is usually a full-bottomed wig. For regular courtroom proceedings, the lawyers wear shorter bench wigs. Whereas, the barristers wear a tie wig.
Black & White Uniform for Lawyers
From the seventeenth century till the 20th century, the dress code for lawyers may have gone through different colours and dress codes, but the 21st century is all about black and white. Most countries today prefer black and white colours for the legal profession.
The reason behind including black as the primary colour in the legal profession is that this colour has both positive and negative connotations and overtones. It is the symbol of evil, death, and mystery, as well as of strength and authority. Additionally, the black colour shows the submission of lawyers and judges to justice.
The white colour in the dress code shows goodness, light, and innocence. Since the legal system is the sole hope for people to get justice, the white colour also signifies the hopes of a common man.
Importance of White Neckbands
The white neckbands also originated from Britain. The barristers in England used to wear these neckbands with their uniform. In India, the barristers are the first lawyers of the courts. To give them importance, the neckband was brought to the uniform of the lawyers.
The two pieces combined together to form a neckband shows the Tablets of the Law or the Tablets of Stone. The Hebrew Bible defines Tablets of the Stone as pieces of stone inscribed with the Ten Commandments when Moses ascended biblical Mount Sinai. These signify the sky, heavens, and God’s throne.
The Current Uniform for Lawyers in India
Section 49 in Chapter IV of the Bar Council of India governs the dress code for lawyers in the Supreme Court, High Court, subordinate courts, etc. For men, it is a black-buttoned coat or a black open breast coat, a white shirt, and a black-tie. The lawyers need to wear long trousers. The colour of the trousers can be black, white, or grey.
Whereas, the dress code for lady lawyers is a black full sleeve jacket or blouse, white-collar stiff or band. They can also wear a white blouse with white bands and a black open breasted coat.
For ladies preferring sarees, they can wear white, black, or any subdued coloured saree without printing or designs. Traditional dresses, like Salwar Kurta or Punjabi Churidar Kurta, are also allowed in allowed colours. The coat or gown is mandatory to be worn in the High Court and Supreme Court.
Hope this write-up helped you learn about the evolution of lawyer’s dress code over the years and the current uniform for both male and female lawyers in the country. For law aspirants, it is essential to know these aspects of the legal profession.