Courtly Attire: Associate Justice Stephen Breyer

The Supreme Court has been rebuked by figures on both sides of the political spectrum as being too partisan. For all of scolding it has received, however, one justice deserves praise for having stood alone in preserving not only the law, but trad style. Justice Stephen Breyer, appointed to the court in 1994, has unknowingly championed traditional American clothing, helping cement the legacy of Ivy style within constitutional law and the Supreme Court.

At times, Breyer does not completely capture Ivy style, occasionally sporting pointed collars and padded shoulder suits. Throughout his tenure, however, his incorporation of traditional clothing elements, including buttondown collars, 3/2 roll suits and cuffed trousers. Moreover, his clothing choices are a nod to his Ivy League education, as Breyer graduated from Harvard Law School in 1964, at the height of the heyday of the Ivy League Look. Returning to Harvard Law School in 1967 as a professor of constitutional law, Breyer was a witness to the decline of classic American clothing. Yet despite students around him sporting ever-more casual clothing, he continued to carry the torch of Ivy. One of Breyer’s frequent sartorial choices is a tan cotton suit complete with a 3/2 button stance, swelled edges along the lapel, and natural shoulders, all fundamental characteristics of the style. Further, his choice of blue buttondowns demonstrates his faithfulness to classic American style. His collars exemplify the perfect roll, the classic bell shape sought after by followers of traditional American clothing.

Like his interpretation of the Constitution, Breyer may believe clothing must also to adapt to changing times, explaining his preppy inspired sweater-around-the-shoulders outfit in the picture below. If not for his typical elements of Ivy style, however, the injustice of his shortsleeve dress shirt would be indefensible. — JACK M. CARLSON


Bottom image via MPR News.


5 Comments on "Courtly Attire: Associate Justice Stephen Breyer"

  1. Apologies there’s not a more extensive photo gallery. All the relevant images seemed to be from Getty, UPI, or AP.

  2. Jack M. Carlson | March 12, 2020 at 5:43 pm |

    Hopefully Breyer will soon rule overly-padded suits to be unconstitutional. Thanks for reading!

  3. I must not get out enough (Maybe I’m just easily entertained?), but that tan suit in the first photograph looks really nice.

    Best Regards,


  4. AtlantaPete | March 13, 2020 at 12:19 pm |

    One might also run photos of the late Justice John Paul Stevens, on of the great wearers of bow ties.

  5. Former Justice Souter also dresses quite well. He has a three-piece tweed suit with a 3/2 roll, among other things.

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