Clothes Make the Man?

I was interested to read about the the dust-up between Cook County Commissioner William Beavers and the head of the juvenile jail, Earl Dunlap.  Apparently Dunlap once testified before the County Board in clothing that was a bit too casual for Beaver’s taste:  a white polo shirt tucked into his Dockers.  Here’s an exchange between the two as described in the Sun-Times:

“Do you own a suit?” Beavers asked Earl Dunlap in 2008 as he lectured that “your appearance commands respect” and told him he’s “supposed to be a role model.”

That exchange apparently was the beginning of bad blood between the two.  And there’s a picture of Dunlap in the Sun-Times as he was dressed that day and I have to admit he does not sport a fastidious look.  Beavers, on the other hand, is a snappy dresser–always in a suit complete with pocket square.

Beavers is not exactly considered a reformer and once famously referred to himself as the “hog with the big nuts.”  But he did strike a chord with me regarding dress standards in general.  For example, when I’ve covered trials in federal court, I’m amazed at how some jurors dress.  Not that men have to wear suits and ties, but please, t-shirts with text?  Guys, is it too much to wear a nice pair of slacks and a dress shirt?  And, ladies, a Bears sweatshirt is fine for raking leaves, but maybe you can take it up a notch when you’re going downtown to temporarily be part of the federal judiciary system.

Given his reputation, Beavers has no credibility with you?  Don’t buy anything that comes out of his mouth?  Just remember this:  even a broken clock is right twice a day.

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  • Viviana

    Unfortunately, you also have those that dress very appropriately for the occasion, but their personality gives you something to talk about. In those cases, with whom do we rather be associated with? With someone that, maybe due to their circumstances, are unable to dress to impress, but yet are very humble and courteous to others or someone that is well-dressed but is an arrogant and believes that the world must evolve around him/her. Things that make us think twice. :) viviana

  • lisa

    Earl Dunlap make a six figure salary and should wear a suit. I dont see anything wrong with that.

  • http://EFTornadoSafeHome.com JeanSC

    I agree, people in court should dress with respect to the context; but considering how little jurors get paid now for doing their civic duty, you’re lucky most of them don’t show up with mismatched togs from a thrift shop (no offense to thrift shop clothing intended, just a cost reference). I don’t have a problem with a polo shirt in court. It has a collar. Do you have a problem with knitted fabric? If so, why? Too comfortable? Dockers has more than one style of pants, but not sweatpants, which are not what one should wear in court.