There are a number of reasons why barristers still wear wigs:
A judge is able to suspend court dress at his own disposal, perhaps where it may intimidate children in the court or during hot periods of weather. Therefore, it really is about symbolism more than any rule.
The trend to wear wigs in court was started by Louis XIV of France. In the mid-17th century, a balding scalp was considered as a sign that someone had contracted syphilis. Therefore, the king disguised his scalp using a wig. This trend quickly spread throughout the upper and middle-classes in Europe including to Britain where Charles II followed suit.
The courts, however, were slower to adopt the trend, with many continuing to sport their natural hair in their judicial portraits. By 1685, full, shoulder-length wigs became part of proper court dress, because barristers were also considered as part of middle-class society.
By the 1820s, wigs had gone out of fashion but coachmen, bishops and those in the legal profession continued to wear them. Coachmen and bishops stopped in the mid-1830s but again the courts kept the tradition.
In 2007, wigs were no longer required during family or civil court appearances or when appearing before the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Wigs are still worn in criminal cases and some barristers choose to wear them during civil proceedings.
Male advocates must wear a white stiff wing collar, alongside a dark double-breasted suit with a bar jacket or court waistcoat. Female advocates must wear a dark suit with bands attached to a collarette alongside their bar jacket or waistcoat
An open-fronted gown with open sleeves over a black or dark suit with a short horsehair wig with curls at the side.
A silk gown, court coat and waistcoat. On special occasions, a QC must wear a long wig, black breeches, silk stockings, lace cuffs and buckled shoes.
Judges have different judicial robes depending on their status and the type of court in which they practice. Generally have a short bench wig, reserving a longer wig for ceremonial occasions
Reforms have suggested that the court is increasingly flexible as to barristers wearing wigs. It is possible that they will be discarded in the next 50 years.
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