It may seem strange that although survey after survey indicates that a majority of barristers and members of the British public favor continuing the 300-year-old tradition of wigs and gowns in court, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the lord chief justice of England and Wales, remains implacable. He has decreed that, starting in October, the wigs will disappear from judges in civil and family cases and that the traditional gowns with wing collars and bands will be replaced by a garment that the Times describes as “dark navy gabardine and wool mix, trimmed with velvet on the cuffs and facings.”
The new robes, designed by Betty Jackson, a celebrated specialist in “funky British clothes for aspiring funky British girls,” denote the ranks of the judges with color-coded collar bands. The Guardian describes her achievement as “something an alien android with menacing religious undertones would wear when waging war with Doctor Who.” A photograph of a bare-headed Lord Phillips modeling the new outfit accompanies the Times story. His lordship’s face is composed in a martyr’s smile: Evidently he has determined that he must endure this public immolation as the price for eliminating, once and for all, the dangers of traditional courtroom attire.
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