Have you ever wondered about the significance behind why doctors wear white coats and why lawyers dress in all black? This disparity in the colour of one’s attire has been debated over the years. This question has its answer embedded deep in history dating back many centuries and the truth behind this beguiling question has a simplistic solution. During the 19th century, both doctors and lawyers wore black coats, which in all certainty could be confusing to the common man.
However, as time progressed, the medical profession soon changed the colour of the uniform worn by doctors to white coats in order to promote hygiene and ensure a sterile environment. Both professions bear the highest level of responsibility and thus, the wearer is reminded of this role through the choice of uniform. This tradition has continued for many years and has become a defining factor for both professions while assigning a mark of respect and prestige to the wearer.
The main reason why doctors wear white coats is also to symbolise the purity of the profession while also instilling an atmosphere of trust between the patient and the doctor. White has always been associated as a calming colour and thus, is rightly chosen for the medical profession as it allows the patient to be at ease and less anxious during a procedure. A doctor’s white coat also signifies the prestige and purity of the profession as it should, while also garnering a sense of mutual trust between patient and doctor.
Moreover, doctors wear white coats to also ensure a sterile environment in order to reduce the risk of contamination and eliminate exposure to harmful toxins. Since white is the purest colour which if affected will immediately display any contagion or defect, it is thus the correct colour for doctors’ uniforms. Since doctors also have to ensure they remain hygienic throughout the day, the state of a doctor’s white coat is a straightforward indication of whether one has washed their hands, changed their scrubs or coat and whether proper precautions for safety and hygiene have been taken in between treating patients.
On the other hand of the colour spectrum, lawyers dress in all-black coats for a number of interesting reasons. Foremost, black is the densest of all colours and no additives can influence nor change its colour. This has a literal significance and a metaphorical significance as it indicates that the truth cannot be marred by any false accusations and that any decision taken by an advocate is binding and without indecision.
This is an essential rule and a enduring tradition that lawyers have to wear black coats and in India, under the Advocates Act 1961, all lawyers appearing in any court are required to wear a plain and dignified attire. An attorney’s dress has a history of around four hundred years dating back to the year, 1685, when the demise of King Charles II of England led the public to start wearing black gowns as a sign of mourning for their beloved monarch. Soon after, this was employed as a black gown for lawyer’s dress who were considered a step below the king in the social hierarchy.
It is believed that wearing a black gown bestows the judge and lawyer with a degree of anonymity. However, the main reason behind the black hue of a lawyer’s dress, is because the colour is a symbol of power and authority as it represents presenting oneself in the same manner as pastors wear black clothes to signify their subordination to God. In the same way, lawyers and judges don black uniforms in order to symbolise the unwavering state of justice.
Therefore, the reasons behind the choice of colour behind a lawyer’s dress and the intent behind why doctors wear white coats although seem disparate but are in fact extremely similar.
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