Every profession has it’s dress code in some form or way be it corporate or casual. Policemen, mechanics, doctors, teachers, and other professionals always have something in common with their peers when it comes to dressing.
In Nigeria, one profession that has a particularly interesting dress code is the law profession. Lawyers all over the country seem to always wear monochrome and have a wig and gown on when they appear in court. This is very peculiar, but is it really necessary?
We asked lawyers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria why this dress code is in place, whether or not it is necessary, and if it should be stopped. Here’s what they shared with us;
Lawyers wear black and white because it’s a dress code as required by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). I think it is a thing adopted from colonial practice.
Well, the dress code may be necessary if it’s as a means of identification. I just feel it still gives that element of slavery to the colonial masters.
I think the dress code should be stopped. A gown is okay and we shouldn’t even have to wear it all the time. Can they like rest?
I think if you’re corporate, it should suffice as an alternative dress code to the with and gown.
We don’t only wear white and black. In school and law school, it’s compulsory, so, I guess we just get used to it and your wardrobe is just like this monochrome disaster.
Lawyers are allowed to wear other dark colours like grey, blue, and so on. And in court, we wear our robe and wig so no one really sees your outfit, but corporate lawyers wear other related colours.
Nobody knows the point of the wig and gown! The people we are trying to copy don’t even use them anymore and it is so annoying. Why are we still wearing them? I don’t think it’s necessary.
Yes! This dress code should be stopped. Our country is not even designed to accommodate this dress code because there are no air conditioners in courts and you just end up sweaty and stinky in your robe and wig.
I feel like it will even destabilise you before you go and say your piece in court, so I don’t think it’s necessary. Like there’s literally no use for it because are you telling me I can’t make my point without them?
Why is there even a dress code? I think regular clothes are fine as far as you just don’t dress weird. Regular office corporate wears are fine. I don’t know why there had to be a dress code.
I’m not sure I subscribe to the whole corporate dress code thing but I guess this is just the way we think. I guess regular corporate wear is fine. Like a suit, tie and pants for guys and dresses for ladies. You’ll feel comfortable wearing them.
Lawyers wear white and black due to the notion that started years ago in Ife that said the lawyer is a middleman between good and bad. He either brings justice (white) or judgement (black). Its kinda like the yin and yang thing.
The fact that we got our law from the British people means that we have to put ourselves in their shoes and think the way they think and act the way they act by dressing how they do in the court. That was the point of the wig and gown.
Yes, the wig and gown are still necessary because lawyers are expected to dress that way to appear in court. The point of wearing the wig and gown and white and black is so you can be given an audience in court and not be seen as a spectator.
Omo, I don’t know if it should be stopped. At this point I don’t know because how do you differentiate a lawyer who is representing someone in court from other people if they don’t have a dress code or a method of dressing?
The court is an open court so it is public. How do you then differentiate a lawyer from others without these things in place?
Although I do not go with the whole wig and gown thing, because our country is so hot, I know that maybe there can be like a separate way.
I can’t really suggest an alternative dress code for lawyers, but, let’s look at it this way, choirs also wear robes and no one complains because they wear their robes. The celestials that wear all white wear outfits because it is required of them.
So, if a wig and gown work for lawyers then so be it. I can’t really think of an alternative because what else are we going to wear? Maybe we can make it a bit more traditional but it’s still the same thing.
Lawyers don’t always wear black and white only. We wear other clothes for other occasions and even in court, it’s not only white and black we wear. For ladies, a black gown alone is allowed, guys are also allowed to wear navy blue to court.
As to why we wear black and white, we were told that black symbolises sobriety, from the word sober, and white goes with that sober colour. Its really just the black that has a meaning.
We inherited the wig and gown from Britain – the country that colonised Nigeria. The wig is usually white or cream and symbolises grey hair. The robe represents sobriety. They are just to make the profession distinct and it is what we inherited.
Whether or not they are still necessary is a personal question. Some lawyers believe it should never be scrapped but I don’t think it is still necessary – especially the gown. I like the wig because it makes us look unique and distinguishes us from other professions.
The gown should be stopped because it brings a lot of inconveniences with it. For example, we are in a hot nation and yet we are still expected to wear our wig and gown together with our suit. It is usually too much.
Nigerian courts are not well equipped for this dress code because most don’t have air conditioners and some don’t even have working fans. It is archaic going with the gown but the wig makes us look good and we can still endure the heat it brings.
The alternative dress code should be the wig alone with our suit and bib or collarette. The gowns should definitely go. Things like small earrings and moderate makeup for women should also still be retained because the court is not for fashion shows.
It is only in school that lawyers wear black and white only. Alternatives are navy blue, grey, and other sober colours. In school, we were told we are to wear these colours because the profession is a sober one.
In court, we ladies can only wear a black gown or a grey gown because we have to put our bib in – we can’t even wear a camisole. So, basically, the colour symbolises the sober profession.
I’m not sure what the point of the wig and robe are, but I think they symbolise justice and the law. I think it started from colonial masters and we wanted to copy them. Some of them even had their hair in the shape of the wig.
These people don’t even wear these things in court again, they just wear their normal outfits and go to court, so why do we still do it?
I don’t think the dress code is still necessary because the Nigerian climate does not support it. At times, in court, the judge has to ask everyone to remove their wigs and gowns when it gets too hot, so what’s the essence of it?
We could get something else to symbolise we are lawyers. It could be to look corporate in the sober colours without the wig and gown.
I can’t say the dress code should be stopped but I can say that it should be reviewed. The reason behind it could be reviewed. They should get the opinions of our lawyers and see if it’s really still necessary.