Well, she didn’t quite say it like that. Actually what she said was “Oh wow, you aren’t wearing black, that’s amaaaaazing“. She, NJ, is one of my lovely two colleagues who is up the duff and is all for me wearing colours other than black. I do try to keep her happy because angry pregnant ladies are no fun to work with.
For many years people have been trying to get me to stop wearing black. For example, during my teenage years my dad would often say things like:
“With your hair colour you could wear any colour you like – you would look just as good in pastels as you do in bright green or blue or red“.
I am really not too sure what hair colour he meant. As you may recall I have been going grey since the age of sixteen so he probably meant jet black. Or possibly mahogany or maybe even aubergine (that’ll be eggplant to Australians and Americans). Not sure how well pastels go with purple, blue-ish red or inky black hair but sadly I never tried. Put it this way, for about twenty years of my life I would rather have gone naked than wear a light colour.
It is quite lucky, therefore, that I became a lawyer rather than say a children’s TV presenter.
Lawyers wear a lot of dark colours, at least in my experience Scottish lawyers certainly do. It is generally frowned upon to do otherwise. The reasons for this are partly to do with the inclement weather and partly to do with tradition. Dark colours are sombre and trustworthy. Light colours are joyous and fun and so on. Joyous is not a word that is associated with either the law or the legal system as anyone has ever been in a courtroom will affirm.
For a couple of years of my life I specialised in civil litigation. Mostly I was involved in chucking people out of houses because they hadn’t paid their rent and suing people for personal injuries caused as a result of road traffic accidents and the occasional vituperative custody case. It was a miserable business for the most part going to court. Part of this was due to sadistic judges and part was due the rigid formality of court dressing. Not surpisingly when it comes to formal dressing, lawyers have a lengthy lists of dos and don’ts.
For example, in Scotland barristers (called advocates) dress like this:
Solicitors (like me) dress slightly but not substantially differently from advocates. Scottish solicitors have to wear open fronted dark gown over a dark or black suit in court. No wigs which is a shame because I always wanted to get a pink wig. Trousers for women were frowned on until recently. Brightly coloured anything is similarly not considered favourably although I used to try to get away with dangly earrings. Once or twice my dangly earrings won me cases although I suspect that is because they gave me confidence boost that accompanies Getting Away with Something rather than anything else.
So for many years it was sensible for me to invest in dark clothes and shoes and boots and so on. The habit kind of stuck. Slowly over the years I have tried to inject a bit of colour and lightness into my work wardrobe. Red was the easiest colour to start with. Slowly and surely I have added other colours mostly bright primary colours.
I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t have gotten away with wearing these to Glasgow Sheriff Court but they are not bad for hanging out the washing.
One of these days I might even manage an aquamarine blue, a moss green or a pink.