What Do Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Collars Mean? Each One Has A Special Story

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Supreme Court judicial robes don't leave a lot of room for accessorizing, but the most notorious SCOTUS justice doesn't let that stop her from adding flair (and often political statements) to her ensembles. Although she rarely gives interviews, over the years we've picked up notes here and there on what Ruth Bader Ginsburg's collars mean — because you can bet there's a reason she wears them.

Widely recognized for her dissenting opinions as well as her collection of collars (also known as jabots), Ginsburg is a liberal social icon, appearing everywhere from children's "Superhero Day" costumes to Lego keychains on Etsy. Her famous "dissent" collar — worn for such occasions as her Hobby Lobby contraception case dissent — has even been made into necklaces and pins.

"The standard robe is made for a man because it has a place for the shirt to show, and the tie," RBG said in a 2009 interview with The Washington Post. "So Sandra Day O'Connor and I thought it would be appropriate if we included as part of our robe something typical of a woman."

"So I have many, many collars."

From her iconic bejeweled "dissent" jabot to more understated lace, RBG has a look for every court decision. More than simply accessories to a black robe, her collars have become symbols of her unapologetic and strongly feminist legacy.

The Favorite

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In a 2014 interview with Katie Couric, RBG explained that this simple, beaded jabot is her favorite in her collection. One of only two collars that she lays flat instead of hanging in a closet, this piece is from Cape Town, South Africa.

Stiffelio's Collar

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According to Ginsburg, this statement collar came from the New York Metropolitan Opera gift shop. It is a replica of the collar worn by Plácido Domingo in Verdi's opera, Stiffelio.

(Fun fact: Domingo surprised Ginsburg with a serenade when she received an honorary law degree from Harvard. "It was glorious," she said.)

Majority Opinion

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Given to her by her law clerks, this gold embellished jabot makes an appearance every time RBG announces a majority opinion. In Couric's words, it's "for when you really want to make a statement." No arguments here!

Delicate Lace

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This netted lace collar has made frequent appearances over the years and can even be seen in a portrait she commissioned by Simmie Knox in 2000.

The Fan Favorite


According to Jezebel, in 2015 a Redditor made a delicate lace jabot by hand, and received a thank you note from RBG on Supreme Court letterhead, saying, "The lace collar is elegant. I will wear it often with appreciation for your artistry and caring."

The Dissenter

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So iconic you can now buy a replica of this collar as a necklace, this is Ginsburg's "dissenting" collar. When Couric asked why this jabot in particular is her dissent collar, RBG merely replied, "It looks fitting for dissent."

It also doubles a subtle way to throw shade. She wore this collar the day after Trump's election to president, even though there were no court decision announcements that day.

Ginsburg's prolific collection of collars may have started as a way to unapologetically express her femininity and bold sense of style in a field dominated by men. But each one has since taken on a personality and political meaning of its own — and turned RBG into a feminist fashion icon in the process.