Last week , I posted about Rutherford County Circuit Judge Royce Taylor’s prosed dress code for women lawyers . I was preparing for an oral argument before the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals and came across some suggestions for dress before the court.. I have a habit of skimming a book by Bryan Garner and Justice Antonin Scalia before any appeallate argument . In "Making You Case" , the authors give some very practical tips on brief writing and oral argument. As I was reviewing the book for the argument , I came across their tips for dress in appearing before a appellate court. I thought these suggestions may be timely in light of the dress code uproar. Remember I still like personal style , but at the appellate level it is a different ballgame.

Here are a few of Mr.Garner’s suggestions ;

  • Make a good impression.
  • Dress appropriately and bear yourself with dignity.
  • No sport jacket.
  • Wear a dark suit like dark gray ,dark blue, or black.
  • The same goes for women lawyers.
  • Wear a white shirt and a dark red or dark blue tie.

The point is one must dress for the occasion. Dress does matter. I need to remind myself the same even as we begin a Southern summer. I will freely admit that I may wear a seer sucker suit in the summer , but there is a time and place for everything.

Mr.Garner quotes Shakespeare in his book , "Apparel oft proclaims the man.’ Maybe that’s why judges wear a black robe so they don’t have to make any wardrobe choices . Myself, I like to dress with a little fun , but when the occasion calls I can break out the dark suit.

 Finally , another borrowed quote from Mr.Garner courtesy of hon.Robert H. Jackson.

You will not be stopped from argument if you wear a race-track suit or sport a rainbow necktie.You will just create a first impression that you have strayed in at the wrong bar