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Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Collar Commentary

By: Hannah E. Smith, JD

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the late iconic Supreme Court Justice, took the nation’s highest court’s dress from drab to fab with her unique collection of collars.  “The standard robe is made for a man because it has a place for the shirt to show, and the tie,” Ginsburg told the Washington Post in 2009.  As a result, she and Sandra Day O’Connor, as the first and second women to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, thought it would be befitting to jazz up the robe in a womanly fashion.  Ginsburg, who was 87 when she died on September 18, 2020, became known for subtly encoding meaning in the collars she chose to wear on any given occasion.  Her collection began with an original lace jabot, which she frequently wore while on the bench from 1993 to 2008.  However, over the years, her law clerks, colleagues, and other admirers helped her grow her collection with an impressive array of exquisite collars.  Time Magazine was granted access to some of the late Justice’s favorite collars for a still-life series, which can be viewed here.  A few of her most popular collars are described in detail below.


The “Majority Opinion” Collar – This yellow beaded collar came from Anthropologie and was a gift from her October Term 2006 law clerks.  Whenever she was announcing the majority opinion from the bench and wanted to express her approval, she would don this elegant collar.


The “Dissenting Opinion” Collar – This famous beaded collar was made by Banana Republic.  Ginsburg acquired the collar back in 2012 when she received it in a swag bag at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards.  She wore this collar to communicate her condemnation while on the bench.  During an interview with Katie Couric in 2014, Couric inquired as to why Ginsburg had chosen this particular collar as her “dissent collar.”  Ginsburg replied, “It looks fitting for dissents.”


The “Favorite” Collar – This simple white beaded collar from South Africa was easily the Justice’s favorite.  She donned it in her own official portrait, now hanging in the Supreme Court.  She also wore this collar to Barack Obama’s first address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on December 31, 2005.


The “Not a Fan of Him” Collar – It was no secret that Justice Ginsburg was not Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s biggest fan.  For the official court portrait with Justice Kavanaugh in 2018, Ginsburg chose a spiky beaded collar made by Stella and Dot.  It was also the first time the public had seen Ginsburg since her fall in her office that left her with several fractured ribs.  In a way, the collar not only signaled her own resilience and toughness, but also her criticism of the newest member of the nation’s highest court.


As only the second woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg will forever be remembered for her accomplishments.  She is undoubtedly an icon and trailblazer for equal protections for women in the law.  In addition to her never-ending accolades, she brought impeccable style to the high court through her many collars throughout the years.


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