A female barrister has set up the first legal outfitter dedicated to courtwear for women.

RollOnFriday doesn't usually give businesses a plug, but given this is the first time that such a venture has launched after 100 years of women being allowed to be barristers, we thought we’d make an exception. 

Ivy & Normanton is the brainchild of Karlia Lykourgou, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers. She named the company after Ivy Williams and Helena Normanton: the first and second women to be called to the Bar in 1922. "The profession has changed since Ivy and Helena first joined, but the shirts and collars they wore have remained much the same", she told RollOnFriday.

Lykourgou said she founded the clothing company because she was "frustrated by the poor offering available" as no one was designing courtwear for women. Clothing companies "were only adapting male courtwear," she said. "Women have been at the bar for over 100 years and men are still the default when it comes to legal dress." 

The Doughty Street Chambers barrister said that during her pupillage, four years ago, she walked into a legal outfitters and tried to buy a tunic shirt, only to discover there was little choice "and what existed was expensive and designed to fit a male body rather than a female one." 

Lykourgou set about creating designs to address "pain points" after she heard one colleague complaining about catching her hair in the velcro of their collarette, and noticed another using a safety pin to prevent her collarette riding up. She hopes her clothes will provide "a better product for all women who attend court, not just barristers, but solicitors, clerks and judges."

Harriet Johnson, a fellow barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, expressed her support (and relief) on Twitter:


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Other female barristers were equally delighted:


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One barrister offered an accompanying product idea:


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And it wasn't just women barristers who were getting excited about Lykourgou's designs:


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Whilst noting the advancement being made, some people were perplexed as to why antiquated rules for court dress still exist: 


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The rules on formal attire are drummed into aspiring barristers at an early stage. And it may be some time before barristers' garb is entirely in sync with the modern world, for men and women, but until then Ivy and Normanton is at least making strides.


Ivy and Normanton

Ivy and N

Progress with Ivy and Normanton 


Meaty dress

But a long way to go before this is ok, probably


Ivy & Normanton's range can be seen here.

Tip Off ROF

Comments

A I 19 June 20 08:48

Good for her! I hope it's a success. Takes balls to start a business (especially now) and requires fc*k tonnes of work. Well done!

Woman barrister 19 June 20 09:44

I want to want to get behind this but (a) Ede and Ravencroft have always sold womens shirts for barristers (to which you can attach the proper "man's" collar) and (b) most women use the collarette and a normal shirt anyway and I've never heard anyone complaining about having to do this.  

Anon 19 June 20 09:59

I think the argument about Court dress is interesting.

I have heard a pre-eminent QC talk about their preference for the formal dress code (and this isn't a stuffy white guy who made this argument).

They told the story of when they were in a trial and they realized that one of the witnesses for the opposition (who still worked for the relevant company) that they would be cross-examining lived two doors down the road.  They new each other, would speak if they saw each other out and about in the way that neighbours do (unless you live in central London). 

The Barrister knew the cross would be hard and they would really have to put the squeeze on this guy.  Despite the fact that the witness knew the Barrister was a Commercial Barrister, he never joined the dots that the person who gave him a grilling in Court was the friendly person from two doors down. 

The Barrister attributes this primarily to the fact that the wigs, collars and "silly garb" create such an entirely different picture on that person that give them almost a degree of anonymity and shield them in their personal life.

It's very easy to say its just antiquated and tradition but I think a lot of senior Barristers have anecdotes similar to this (or know of similar situations arising) and for them there are benefits to helping them separate personal and professional lives in this way.  Food for thought to those who think its nothing but tradition.

Fred Shred 19 June 20 11:00

Good business niche; keep the quality high and she should clean up.  

PS: I love work uniforms.  Suit or gown + wig, they're honest.  Cue however the usual inane chattering class comments about scrapping them entirely and "freeing" barristers to wear their own clothes in Court.  Utter rot.  A gown frees you from the expensive tyranny of competitive clothes buying and the judgemental nonsense (especially for blokes, though women have always been afflicted by it) of working out what the difference between “business attire” and “smart casual” is.  For the record, I'm a solicitor who’s also a weekend hiker / biker / farmer who possesses, on the one hand, a lot of conservative cheap suits (accessorise with decent shirt, links and shoes and the suit doesn’t matter, an expensive suit for work is madness); and, on the other hand, a lot of ratty farmer and biker tat.  Ditching my de facto uniform of the suit would mean having to buy a lot of fashionista crap that I don’t want; as none of my non-suit out-of-work garments would ever pass muster.  Same applies to the “outdated” barristers’ gown.  Make them more comfortable by all means, but if I was a barrister, I’d certainly wish to wear them.  Let’s drop the nonsense happy-clappy idea that you “bring your personality (including your personal taste in clothes) to work”.  The hell I do.  Work is work and if I brought my normal non-work clothes (Dutch Army biker boots, 30 year old leather jacket with patches) to work, I’d be fired; or have to waste ££££ buying an additional set of preppy, stuffy crap that I personally don’t want.  No one assumes that your suit or gown is how you dress down at the weekends; but the myth of business casual is that it somehow reflects you.  I hate that dishonesty.  It wouldn’t reflect me and would only mean my replacing my current reasonably-priced and honest work uniform with an over-priced fashionista wardrobe that, frankly, would give an entirely false impression, in that people would assume I was wearing it by choice.  At least nobody ever assumes you’re wearing a suit by choice.  And as for wigs, I have spoken with young barristers who loved them, as they were a great prop to give an appearance of gravitas – concealing your fresh-faced inexperience to an extent, when facing up to a grumpy older judge.  (Judges in the commercial court in the Strand love picking on juniors; it's a ritual of an advocate's life - judicial hazing.  Same arguments put forward by an older brief will often get an easier ride.)  And in criminal trials, a degree of formality is useful to make the process more formal and thereby put more pressure on lying defendants. 

Anon 19 June 20 11:38

ladies equestrian hunting and competition shirts have a collar designed for stocks, and work well for any attachment. they usually are non iron too. Just don't buy the lacy pink ones! Love a formal uniform for work. Frees me from the tyranny of picking an outfit daily. Black tailored suit, shirt, black tights and court shoes dressed in less than 5 mins and feel professional. Smart casual and dress down is for the birds

 

 

Anonymous 19 June 20 12:00

Fair play to her. Hope that it turns a profit as well as helps other female advocates at the bar. She should be applauded for this. 

2020 19 June 20 17:44

It's unbelievable this has only been thought of in 2020 ... the legal profession is still so backward.  

@ Anon 22 June 20 09:54

@ Fred Shred.

Was that a comment or a stream of consciousness?

I can imagine your closing arguments are well received...

 

 

Judge Judy 22 June 20 11:46

@ 10.13

You're right. I shall take a knee and repent for my sins. Oh Lord (and ladies), why hath thou forsaken me?

Strut your stuff. 22 June 20 12:40

I am a bit dubious about her claim that male tunic shirts are not adapted to the female form. Most of the legal outfitters are also clerical outfitters. Female clerical blouses have been available for almost 30 years. Traditional colours for clerical shirts are black, grey, blue and Roman or Sarum purple for bishops. However, women are offered far more colour choices, with numbers in chiffon offered in rose red, lake  blue, mint, lemon and even polka dot. I hope the bar keeps a sense of decorum though, and it doesn't descend into the clerical fashion show portrayed in Fellini's Roma!

What about...? 22 June 20 15:42

What about moobs? I have a considerable bust, for a man. Who will accommodate my needs?

Rigby 23 June 20 17:47

Hahaha. Nothing they sell could hold these bad boys up. I literally have the weight of the world on my shoulders.

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