Tennessee Circuit Court Judge Royce Taylor said he received so many complaints about attire from attorneys in Rutherford County that he created a notice to remind female lawyers of the appropriate clothing options for the courtroom.
There have been complaints of female attorneys donning miniskirts and revealing blouses, and there was even one instance of a woman wearing sweatpants to court.
“All you have to do is go to church and see what people used to wear — hats, gloves, long dresses — have long been gone away with,” Taylor told The Tennessean. “But I found that county judges here weren’t holding women to the same standard as men.”
Taylor claimed the matter came up at May’s local Bar and Bench Committee. Now a forthcoming newsletter to all members of the Rutherford County Bar will detail the specifics of the dress code.
“I have advised some women attorneys that a jacket with sleeves below the elbow is appropriate or a professional dress equivalent,” the letter said. “Your personal appearance in court is a reflection upon the entire legal profession.”
Nashville-based attorney, Karla Miller, told The Tennessean she was “slightly offended” by the judge’s dress code, but she admitted it might be necessary.
“Some ladies are dressing in a manner that should be bothersome to other lady lawyers who strive to be professional,” Miller said.
“I’ve never met an attorney who has broke the rules on purpose,” said image and brand consultant, Mila Grigg, who works with more than 100 Middle Tennessee attorneys. “They’ll say, ‘Oh, I can’t wear that? What should I be wearing?’ ”
She said the old professional decorum is clashing the expectations of the millennial generation, who “have a different standard for what professional looks like.”
However, she did think it was wrong to single out women. Grigg said men break professional fashion etiquette just as often.
Taylor admitted in the past he found a male lawyer in contempt of court for appearing without a blazer. He said he made the lawyer donate the money to charity.