Earlier this month, a panel of British judges recommended a number of changes to the country’s judicial-dress requirements, which have been roughly the same for hundreds of years. Wigs will no longer be worn in civil and family courts, and the judicial robes have been redesigned to include, for example, a system of colored bands to indicate seniority. Senior judges, for example, would have gold bands on their robes and High Court judges would be labeled in red. A spokesman for the judiciary hailed the new design for being much more comfortable and practical. "It is the result of considerable consultation," he said, "and a sensible way forward."
Appalling, said Hadley Freeman, deputy fashion editor for The Guardian newspaper. Freeman especially did not like the colored bands or the truncated collar, which he said "cannot but make the wearer look like an evil pastor."
No, wait — it’s more like "something an alien android with menacing religious undertones would wear when waging war with Doctor Who." Nor, Freeman continued, did they look any better on the Lord Chief Justice (who got stuck modeling the new robes for press photographers).
"Look at this poor man," Freeman said, referring to the pictures of Lord Phillips that appeared in newspapers. "[I]nstead of appearing imperious, [he] now just looks like the man who sells you tickets for the Star Trek Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton."
According to a report in the Times, a public survey last year found that a majority of barristers, and of the public generally, were in favor of keeping the full regalia at least in the higher courts. But Lord Phillips, it seems, "has wanted to be rid of wigs" since he was appointed three years ago, and has pushed the change through. I haven’t seen any reports that he has changed his mind about the new robes just because some critics don’t like them, but in at least the second picture above, he doesn’t look happy at all.