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:
Other female barristers were equally delighted:
One barrister offered an accompanying product idea:
And it wasn't just women barristers who were getting excited about Lykourgou's designs:
Whilst noting the advancement being made, some people were perplexed as to why antiquated rules for court dress still exist:
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.
Progress with Ivy and Normanton
But a long way to go before this is ok, probably
Ivy & Normanton's range can be seen here.