‘Women have been at the bar for over 100 years and men are still the default when it comes to legal dress,’ Karlia Lykourgou tells Legal Cheek
A junior barrister has launched the first ever legal outfitter dedicated to courtwear for women.
Karlia Lykourgou, a criminal barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, yesterday celebrated the official opening of her online outfitter, Ivy & Normanton, which aims to “encourage all women who attend court to do so with confidence, looking bloody great”.
The online shop takes its name from Ivy Williams and Helena Normanton, the first and second women to be called to the bar of England and Wales in 1922.
The collection of tunic shirts, collarettes, collars and bands was born out of Lykourgou’s frustration with the lack of practical legal attire for women. “I saw no one was designing courtwear for women. They were only adapting male courtwear. Women have been at the bar for over 100 years and men are still the default when it comes to legal dress,” she told Legal Cheek.
Lykourgou experienced this early on during her pupillage in 2016, which is when she first began the project. “I walked into a legal outfitters and tried to buy a tunic shirt. My family are in the rag trade so I know how things are supposed to fit. There was little choice in terms of shirt and what existed was expensive and designed to fit a male body rather than a female one. (Straight fit, no stretch, no waist, no accommodation for anyone with breasts.)”
“Not long after that I was in the robing room and heard a colleague complaining about their hair being caught in the velcro of their collarette and noticed another who had pinned their collarette to the shirt with safety pins to stop it riding up.”
Lykourgou hopes to solve this problem. For example, her new range of tunic shirts are “designed to fit a woman’s body and accommodate a chest and hips” and have a longer bottom so “it tucks into your trousers and skirt without riding up”. The collarettes on offer also include poppers and velcro, with ties at the side to keep it in place.
Looking ahead, Lykourgou hopes the business will keep growing, revealing she has more ideas for new clothing lines. Asked if she eventually plans to trade in legal practice for her side-project, Lykourgou told us:
“Women have been multi-tasking since the beginning so there is no reason why I can’t run a successful company and a successful practice for as long as possible.”