The dress-code issue took front and center during a panel discussion of federal court judges from the Seventh Circuit. The judges raised the issue of what one jurist described as “the Ally McBeal look,” complaining that female attorneys dress inappropriately when appearing in court. The comment and ensuing discussion has sparked a debate across the blogosphere.
For me, the comment raises multiple questions. First, do women really dress as badly as the panelists described? Second, if women are making such horrible fashion choices, why are they doing so–ignorance or disregard? Third, assuming the pantsuit pandemic is not limited to the Seventh Circuit, what’s to be done about it?
I share my thoughts to the first two questions below and will share my solution to the problem in a subsequent post. But, before turning to the questions, but feel compelled to first disclose where I stand on the fashion spectrum. I fall somewhere on the “fashion forward” side of the line. For example, my electric blue patent leather pumps usually get an eyebrow raise or two, as do my leopard-print calf-hair Lambertson Truex stilettos. I am a self-confessed shoe junkie.
Shoes aside, I definitely fall on the conservative side of the line, as well. I guarantee that no judge would ever comment that my hemline is inappropriately high–in or out of court. Never ever. So I come from a position that women can dress in a way that reflects their individuality and that is perfectly current without compromising their attire-integrity.