After a Fashion

Our Style Avatar gives the lowdown on the TV Judges' style (or lack thereof).

GUILTY I'm shameless. It doesn't bother me at all to admit that I'm addicted to television's spate of afternoon "Judge" shows. For three hours (2-5pm) it's a veritable bonanza of trashy courtroom drama. We begin the trash-fest with Judge Mathis followed by Judge Joe Brown followed by Divorce Court followed by the cream of the crop, Judge Judy. At other times, there's also Power of Attorney and Judge Hatchett, as well as Animal Court, starring judge-show pioneer Joseph Wapner and his trusty bailiff Rusty. The judge-show cases themselves are not all that interesting; many concern a broken-up boyfriend and girlfriend, one of whom either kept all the furniture they bought to validate their one-month relationship, or won't give back a $30,000 car that was a "gift" for a three-week anniversary, or took off without paying rent and bills. Things that happen to people when they're drunk also make for popular cases: "Yes, your honor, we had 10 shots of tequila each; I molested his girlfriend, and we got in a fight. I punched him first, and then he hit me in the face causing permanent scarring. He should pay for all my medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress." By watching these shows, these actual cases, you truly begin to understand that the court system is clogged with so many ludicrous lawsuits. You also begin to notice that these judges love diamonds. Get a load of the enormous sparkler on Judge Mathis' hand: almost an inch square of pavé diamonds. Not bad for a guy who pulled himself up from the street. Divorce Court's Mablean Ephriam fairly drips with diamonds; from the chunks of ice on both hands, to her glittering earlobes and wrists, she has a staggering array of jewels. Then, of course, there's Judge Judy … The justice system has been good to Judy. I suspect that, in lieu of pay, she simply hightails it down to Tiffany's and sends the bill to the government. But the jewelry is only one fascinating aspect of these shows. The other is the clothes the litigants wear. Anyone who ever doubts the deplorable depths to which fashion has fallen is in for an extremely ugly reality check. While there are sometimes nice-looking, well-dressed people on the show, the bulk of the participants are as trashy as the day is long. Microshorts, tube tops, and strappy sandals: appropriate courtroom attire? I think not. A T-shirt proclaiming "I'm Bubba" paired with ragged jeans that expose plenty of trouser-cleavage? Please. And they're parading themselves around on television! Please. Not only are they not showing respect for the presiding judge, they are showing they have no respect for themselves. On the other hand, it also occurs to me that these may be the nicest clothes they have. Your average club-hoppin', gang-bangin' ho has no use for a simple navy blue knee-length skirt and jacket, any more than the corpulent welfare trailer-park queen has need for anything other than sweatpants and a sweatshirt (when she really gets gussied up, she simply borrows her unemployed-mechanic husband's "I'm Bubba" T-shirt, since her sweatshirt with the big, pink airbrushed kitty with rhinestone eyes has a big grease stain across its bust). On the other end of the spectrum, there's the "new clothes" syndrome, in which the litigant has purchased his or her outfit right before the show. Telltale signs include sleeves and hems that are too long, those little thread bars that you're supposed to cut off when you remove the paper labels from jackets and pants, and, my favorite, fold marks from the packaging the garment came in. Maybe they plan on returning the clothes after the show, since they may never need them again. And the make-up … omigod, it is a feast of eyebrow problems, from Judge Joe Brown's court reporter Jacque Kessler, who has every right to file suit against her make-up person for letting her go on air repeatedly with mismatched eyebrows, to litigants who appear to prefer Marks-A-Lot for eyebrow pencil, eyeliner, and lipliner. And the hair … I can't even begin to go there. But don't take my word; tune in a decide for yourself! FOR THE LOVE OF OIL I love oilcloth. It always has a certain charm that belied its functionality, and suddenly, it's not just for raincoats and tablecloths anymore. Oilcloth items are turning up in so many magazines these days, but why just read about them? Go to the fabulous Tesoros Trading Co. on Congress and see them for yourself. Easy-care and durable, the various totes, bags, and purses in their brilliant colors and patterns are perfect for summer. Don't see the items you want? Tesoros sells the oilcloth by the yard as well, so your oilcloth fantasies can go wild.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Judge Shows, Judge Mathis, Judge Joe Brown, Divorce Court, Judge Judy, Power of Attorney, Judge Hatchett, Animal Court, Joseph Wapner, Rusty Jacque Kessler, Marks-A-Lot, oilcloth, Tesoros Trading Co.

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