U.S. Supreme Court

Washington Post Style Writer Critiques Justices’ Black Robes

A style columnist who once criticized Elena Kagan’s wardrobe as “drab” and “dowdy” doesn’t have the same objections to her new black-robed look.

“The basic black robe is fashion perfection,” writes Washington Post style columnist Robin Givhan. “It sends a singularly powerful message: I am here to uphold the law, without prejudice.”

Givhan didn’t like the stripes adorning the sleeves of the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who had been inspired by a Gilbert and Sullivan character. “The populace should feel some relief that Rehnquist had not been keen on Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Givhan writes.

Nor does Givhan like the white lace collar worn by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for a Supreme Court photo session on Friday. Givhan describes the fashion accessory as “a white lace frill that flopped down the front of her chest like a hankie she’d tucked into her collar.” Givhan recalls that retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor “also was inclined toward a distinctive neckline, although hers, on many occasions, resembled nothing more closely than a crisply pleated lobster bib.”

Ginsburg once gave Justice Sonia Sotomayor a lace collar as a present, but Sotomayor didn’t wear it for photos on Friday. Kagan was similarly unadorned. She “wisely went with a discreet hint of delicate white fabric peeking out from the top of her robe, as did Justice Sonia Sotomayor,” the column says.

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