Our barrister gowns are made from high quality polyester, and feature a fully fluted back and stiffened yolk. Our robes are suitable for use in courtrooms around the world.
Up until the 14th Century, men of learning wore robes as signs of their status although, back then, they were generally brightly coloured. While other professions and fields of academia slowly dropped this tradition, legal professionals continued wearing robes when appearing in court. Today's legal gowns are black and are worn by solicitors and barristers in the UK and across the world.
A Royal Decree was passed on court dress, known as the Judges Rules of 1635, which aimed to regulate the attire worn by judges. Although not subject to these formal regulations, following the death of the Charles II in 1685, the Bar entered a period of mourning and started to wear black mourning robes, complete with the pleated shoulders and tapered elbows we see today.
The modern gown also has a mysterious piece of triangular cloth attached to the left shoulder, often described as ‘violin-shaped’, which is cut in two lengthways. Its origin is obscure and there are two theories for why it is there. The first is that this was once a money sack for brief fees. According to some, it is divided in half to create two segments, one for gold coins, and the other for silver.
The second theory is that the triangular cloth is a derivative of the mourning hood introduced following the death of Charles II, in keeping with traditional mourning dress of the time. This was cast over the barristers’ left shoulder and held in place by a long tassel known as liripipe, originally held in the left hand. This liripipe has survived on the robe today and is now represented by the strip of cloth that hangs down the front of the modern gown.