Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sartorial Virginia

A friend of mine just got back from the Virginia Bar Association annual convention, which they held at the Homestead resort this year.  He wanted me to explain what gave with all the pastels on display down there.  Now, I wasn't at that convention--I usually just go to the Labor & Employment section conventions--but I can just imagine what it looked like.

You see, Virginia is a special place.  Exhibit 1: the Governor wears morning dress during his swearing-in ceremony.  Other people who regularly wear morning dress anymore: the Solicitor General's office when they're arguing in the Supreme Court; very rarely, groomspersons at daytime weddings; and nobody else.

Maybe it's Virginia's very old, very British history, replete with transplanted aristocracy and the sort of traditions that develop from the life of plantation ease enabled by centuries of slave labor.  Maybe it's the genteel mindset that prevails in polite society and even among some lawyers who understand that the best litigators are not the ones who make life difficult for each other.  At any rate, the male-presenting people who show up in Virginia's courthouses, north or south of the Rappahannock, are almost invariably better dressed and better tailored than the male-presenting people who show up at the D.C. Superior Court.  (Notable exceptions can be found, for example, at my old firm.)

Combine a bunch of smart dressers with a slightly more casual event where they still want to impress each other--a convention of other lawyers, for example, where there are no clients and the judges aren't wearing robes but may be wearing bowties--and then host it at at 250-year-old resort, and you have a recipe for dandyism.  Pastels, yellows, reds, blues--expect these on pants, jackets, shoes, hats--embroidered ducks and sailboats on your chinos--Southern Preppie Gothic.  Flannery O'Connor would have been proud if she'd ever owned a yacht.  Had I gone, I would certainly have worn my turquoise shantung odd jacket to cocktail hour.  Maxmaximus would fit in perfectly.

Autumn will bring back more sedate behavior, but for now, an it harm none, do what ye will, at least sartorially speaking.

1 comment:

  1. Nice examination of the sociology of it all.

    Regards  —  Cliff


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