There is a saying that you should dress according to the occasion and when it comes to profession a proper uniform is a must. Clothes have always been an expression of your being. Cloths have also played an important role throughout history. The biggest example of this is Gandhi’s meaning of ‘khadi’ during the Indian freedom struggle. Cloths made of khadi fabric have been referred to as ‘Fabric of Indian Independence’ and had a key role to play in the Indian freedom struggle. Nina Gracia, a Colombian fashion journalist and the editor-in-chief of Elle once said: “Style is a deeply personal expression of who you are, and every time you dress, you are asserting a part of yourself”. Like doctors wear an apron, engineers wear helmet and pilots have their own uniform, just like that advocates also have a proper uniform which is generally in white and black in color. Wearing a proper uniform has a psychological reason too. There is a sense of commonality if the dress of a particular profession is the same. Uniforms also depict solidarity. This helps them stand out from the crowd so that they can be easily recognizable and also distinguish them for the services they provide. Uniform not only make them feel proud but also with the presence of a person in uniform, can change the mood of the people around. The dress code of lawyers is considered to be the most elegant dress code compared to other professions. The outfit of Judges and Advocates with Judicial Robes is a mark of dignity and loyalty towards the court and the Justice. As the Judicial system is considered as one of the most respectable systems, wearing appropriate clothes in the courtroom is extremely important to show respect to the system and to the people involved in it. In some countries like Canada, the uniform of a lawyer is a red and white dress. In European countries, a lawyer uses the traditional black wicked jacket over their dress.
Why Only Black and White Colour?
The color black and white are not chosen randomly; their origin lies in the 17th century. There are three reasons for wearing black color in the legal profession. The first one is obvious as in old time there was no availability of dies in large quantities. The purple color was signified as the color of royalty, so the only fabric color left was black. There is also a psychological reason behind black color. The black color is considered the color of authority and dominance. So, a person wearing black coat looks more powerful and impactful. Also black color represents submission to certain things. As priests wear black to show their submission to god. Just like that lawyers wear black color to show submission to justice. The third reason for wearing black relates to history. In 1327, Edward III designed the costumes for Judges based on the dress code for attending Royal Court. At the end of the 13th century, in Britain, the structure of the legal system was divided between Judges and Sergeants. They practiced from St. Paul’s Cathedral and wore a white coiffure wig. A ‘Black Robe’ with a light color fur or coat in winter and violet or scarlet robes with short pink taffeta in summer was introduced after 1635. By the end of the 1680’s two rectangles of linen used to be tied at the throat. This famous robe has three stories in England. Firstly, Robes were adopted in 1685 as the symbol of the morning to King Charles II. Also in 1694 all of the Nation Judges attended the funeral of Queen Mary II were found to be dressed in Black Robes as a sign of morning. This custom of black robes became famous in the English judiciary system. Thirdly in 1714, the same morning was followed in the memory of Queen Anne where Italian judges wore black robes, white wigs, and white bands. Thus through the tradition of three Monarchs, the black robes tradition became famous in British and then surrounded the world. This tradition was also famous in Britain because of its local climate conditions. Britishers without taking any consideration of the climate condition imposed the same culture and customs to the colonies they acquired. Many of their colonies still follow the same dress and laws and one of the biggest examples of this in India.
The color white is chosen because it signifies light, goodness, purity, and hope. Lawyers are seen as the hope of justice. Under the Indian Judiciary system, the dress code is black coat or robe over a white shirt and a white neckband is mandatory as the Indian legal system is influenced by British rules. The dress code is specified under the Advocates Act of 1961.
Every lawyer in India wears a neckband. It is reserved only for lawyers. It makes lawyers recognizable. The concept of neckband is also adopted by British customs. The neckband is a white piece of two rectangular cloth bands joined together. According to Christian belief, it represents the table of law and table of stone. These were used by Moses that inscribed Ten Commandments. The shape of the neckband represents the law of God and Men.
Advocates Act 1961
As we all know the Indian legal system is mainly influenced by the British. So because of which Advocates Act 1961 makes it mandatory for every lawyer to wear a black coat or robe over a white shirt with a neckband. Section 49(1)(gg) of Advocates Act 1961 prescribes the dress code for senior advocates and other advocates, which are as follows:
FORM OF DRESS OR ROBES TO BE WORN BY ADVOCATES
[RULE UNDER SECTION 49(1)(GG) OF THE ACT]
Advocates, appearing in the Supreme Court, High Court, subordinate courts, tribunals or authorities shall wear the following as part of their dress which shall be sober and dignified; Advocates other than lady advocates:
1. (a) a black buttoned-up coat, chapkan, achkan, black sherwani and white bands with advocate’s gown, or
(b) a black open breast coat, white-collar, stiff or soft, and white bands with an advocate’s gown.
In either case long trousers (white, black, striped or grey) or dhoti.
2. (a) black and full or half-sleeve jacket or blouse, white-collar, stiff or soft and white bands with advocate’s gowns;
(b) sarees or long skirts (white or black or any mellow or subdued color without any print or design or flares (white, black or black-striped or gray):
Provided that the wearing of advocate’s gown shall be optional except when appearing in the Supreme Court or in High Court.
Provided further that in court other than the Supreme Court, High Court, District Court or City Court, a black tie may be worn instead of bands.