Please Flip Your Wig

Last Saturday we met a delightful young woman who was visiting the West Coast for the first time. She was a barrister from London, England, someone who argues cases in British courts, either for the prosecution or the defense.

We were  dining at a lovely restaurant and herb farm in Woodinville, WA. The arrangements were such that we were seated with total strangers and were expected to converse with each other for the duration of our 4 hour, 9 course meal. We had a very congenial bunch at our table, and the conversation turned particularly lively when I asked the barrister if she wore a wig to court. “Oh, yes indeed!” she replied, and went on to describe the process of finding just the right wig for her work.

There are apparently several places in London where one can purchase court dress and wigs, all ancient and venerable establishments. The wigs are made from horse hair. She said the first question she was asked was whether she wanted a wig made from the mane or the tail. I gather the mane hair would be finer and more expensive. I don’t know which she chose. Next, they  measured the circumference of her head, and then took her into a rather dark cellar full of cardboard boxes where they found the boxes with wigs in her size.

The next procedure sounds quite similar to purchasing a magic wand in the Harry Potter books.  Clothed in her court robes, complete with her white collar and tie, she tried on one wig at a time. I don’t know how concerned she was with the particular look or style.  It seemed that the distinguishing characteristic of the right wig was that it had to be one that did not slip or fall off when she bowed as low as she could bow. She said she got quite dizzy bowing repeatedly. She assured us that there were sparks and lightning flashes when she found just the right wig. She said hers was a short advocate’s wig with a  slight widows peak.

What are  the distinguishing characteristics of your work clothes?  What costumes would you like to wear to work?

 

37 thoughts on “Please Flip Your Wig”

  1. I am intrigued with the notion that justice in the UK is associated with wigs and robes, which are a sort of costume. And costumes are a form of duplicity in which people dress up as something they are not. Does that not seem strange?

    Liked by 3 people

      1. You are smart to point to the British flair for pageantry, Jacque. But I’m stuck thinking that–of all professions–the law should be the most concerned about symbolism. It seems appropriate, for example, for salesmen to dress up as something they are not. But shouldn’t workers in the justice system avoid symbolism that conflicts with honesty and transparency?

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        1. Guess I don’t see how a black robe or even an absurd wig – which clearly is not designed to fool anyone into thinking it’s real – are symbols in conflict with honesty and transparency. Perhaps the elaborate “costumes” of judges are meant to remind them that when they don these robes they no longer represent themselves. Perhaps we should demand that our politicians adopt some sort of symbolic garb to remind them of this.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. It seems to me that being compelled not to trust the evidence of your eyes but instead to accept that this artificial and contrived costume is dignified would be disorienting and alienating if you didn’t take it for granted.

          At the same time, I would think that wearing a contrived getup that visibly sets you apart from a defendent might have an effect on your empathy.

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      2. I’m with you, Jacque, I don’t see the judges’ robes and wigs as absurd disguises that require me to suspend belief in anything. They are clearly a nod to centuries old traditions which may over time have lost some understanding of the symbolism they are meant to convey.

        Arguably, the wigs are a tad over the top for modern tastes, and for that reason lend themselves to lampooning by various artists, but I’d argue that despite this, they have held up reasonably well as symbols for the courts.

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    1. The movie about Ruth Bader Ginsburg spends some time inventorying her various lace collars she wears over her robes.

      One collar is identified as her “dissent” collar. She famously wore it to court immediately after 45 was elected.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Corduroy and sweaters and comfortable shoes make up my wardrobe. I looked pretty funny yesterday traveling back home from Washington. I wore somewhat baggy capri pants with tennis shoes and socks. I realized I just didn’t care how I looked. I just wanted comfort. That is how I feel about my work clothes.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. When I started teaching lo these many years ago, pants were not allowed (parochial school in 1970), so the uniform was skirts or dresses. Mini-skirts are not a fun time with all the bending over that happens in a kindergarten classroom (for the teacher, anyway). By the time I moved to public school I had figured out to wear the longer “granny dress” look, and it wasn’t long after that we were allowed to wear “nice” pants.

    I like my present uniform – whatever’s comfy and not dirt-laden.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I struggle with a bit of snobbery about women’s work clothing. Specifically, if women wear heels instead of comfortable shoes, part of me wants to see that as pandering to male notions of how a woman should look. I suspect I’m being unfair. Never having worn shoes with elevated heels, I might have false notions of how odd and uncomfortable that is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Forgot to mention that heels were part of the schoolteacher uniform at first – but the current style was the low chunky version of heels. I had some pretty nice shoes, but then I went “hippie” and got rid of everything in favor of Birkies and clogs.

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  5. I feel extremely lucky about my work clothing. We moved to business casual right about the time I started 30 years ago. Then business casual grew to include colored jeans about 15 years ago and regular denim blue jeans about 8 years ago. And it was also about eight years ago that we started our Summer of Love promotions during which there is no dress code. So three months of every year, shorts t-shirts and flip-flops for me. The only way it could be more perfect for me were if I could wear sweatpants and tennies all winter long.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I was in high school, blue jeans were not allowed. I once wore a blue denim shirt and was sent to the principal for it. He told me that,”we don’t wear denim to school. Denim is working class.” This was in about 1965.

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  6. You already know my work clothes.
    Today I went sleeveless as I don’t expect to be out in the halls enough to meet anyone. Yesterday, since it was the first day, I wore modified sleeves. And I was out in the hallways walking around.
    I got one shirt modified with sleeves from the other shirt. I hope to finish the second shirt today. (with the other set of sleeves). The first one looks nice! (Don’t look too close; my sewing isn’t that good).

    Costumes? If I ever have to wear a suit; that feels like a costume to me.
    I did wear a suit jacket for a wedding last Saturday. But had the fancy sleeve shirt under it.
    Sometimes dressed all in black is my costume.
    and there is the cowboy hat I wear on occasion.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Non-winter weather: waterproof Vasque hiking boots, bug dope. Rest of the outfit varies according to the weather, usually jeans and layered shirts, maybe a rain coat.

    Winter: waterproof Vasque winter boots, hand warmer, wool hat, long underwear. Layered tops. I have yet to find mittens that keep my hands warm enough in cold weather in between shots.

    At home, editing photos: just whatever clothes I usually wear around the house, depends on the season.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I shudder to think of some of the “uniforms” I wore during parts of my working life. This was especially true of my five years with what is now KPMG. If you were a “professional” woman – as distinguished from secretaries or other clerical workers, who for some reason weren’t considered professionals – you pretty much had to wear a suit (and I don’t mean pantsuit) if you wanted to be taken seriously. It was a sure bet that if you didn’t wear the uniform, advancements were going to be hard to come by. To some extent this was also true among legal administrators.

    When I moved to the alternative school, which was a non-profit organization, the dress code was much more relaxed. It was no longer necessary to have a wardrobe of clothes that I’d wear nowhere else but at work.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. When I’m working in gardens, I typically wear shorts and t-shirts with tennis shoes or flip flops. They tend to be fairly disposable clothes, with rips and stains. No sense buying new clothes – or even used clothes that are in good condition – just to get them torn and dirty. I wear things till they fall apart.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The last few years before I retired, I adopted a uniform of black slacks, and a variety of sweaters for winter and knit shirts for summer. I’d have two pairs of slacks and just wore them til they were pretty close to not suitable for work status. No one ever commented on my predictable wardrobe, but I’m sure many people noticed. I still buy almost everything I wear at TurnStyle or other consignment stores. I get much nicer clothes than I could justify if I were paying full price, and there is almost always something in the short and wide category.

    Liked by 3 people

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