Apparently, a group of lawyers in Memphis recently spent a lot of time mulling over just such weighty issues as toe cleavage. According to this Memphis Daily News article, a bunch of Memphis lawyers and judges met to discuss the issue of a dress code for local lawyers.
The meeting included "an impromptu modeling of shoes to determine if either pair represented “cocktail shoes,” and if they did, whether they were inappropriate or disrespectful to the courts."
Some attendees were particularly "offended by too-short skirts, too much cleavage or too much arm being shown, and running shoes being worn in the courthouse."
At issue was a dress code proposed by a number of Memphis Bar Assocations.
The proposed rule at issue reads as follows:
“All attorneys should wear appropriate attire. Men shall wear coats, ties, slacks and appropriate footwear, which does not include athletic shoes or shoes without socks. Women shall wear professional and conservative attire, such as dresses with jackets, suits or pantsuits (with appropriate tops), and appropriate footwear, which does not include cocktail shoes or sandals or athletic shoes."
I think my favorite part of the rule is that the attire for women is specifically described as "conservative." For some reason, men need not dress "conservatively". Presumably 1970's style leisure suits would be perfectly appropriate for men to wear court.
And, one wonders how cold-weather-climate attorneys like myself are expected to handle the issue of boots in the winter. Boot are most certainly not "appropriate footwear" under the proposed rule. However, they are an absolute necessity when you have to walk a few blocks to court in the middle of an Upstate NY winter.
When I was an Assistant Public Defender, I would drag my 60 files behind me in a box on a luggage trolley through sidewalks covered with snow, wearing boots and carrying a bag with my heels inside of it. I'd then change my footwear prior to court, but was lucky enough to have a place to store it, since I was essentially a fixture in the courtroom
Things were more difficult once I began working at a law firm. I attended court only occasionally, and would have to change my shoes before entering the courtroom. I always had a difficult time figuring out where to leave my boots, since there was no place set aside for that purpose. Sometimes I'd just carry them inside the courtroom and leave them, wet and covered with salt from the streets, at my seat.
Men had the luxury of slipping "rubbers" over their (flat) shoes. Many of them wore the unattractive foot coverings into court as well, and I never heard any complaints about that particular practice.
Meanwhile, the ABA Journal blog recently discussed the issue of dress codes for lawyers as well, and referenced this Wall Street Journal article: Bare-Legged Ladies: Hosiery Reveals Office Divide.
I think that most women would agree that, in general, nylons are ridiculously uncomfortable. And, Nylons in 90 degree, humid weather are downright torture. Lined pantsuits in the summer are even worse. The only bearable option is a skirt without nylons.
Nylons are simply not an option in the summer. Period.
So, I would respectfully suggest, my fellow lawyers, that you take your dress code and implement it in a jurisdiction where the sun don't shine (and the snow don't fall).