In the early 17th century, wigs were simply part of the fashion of the day for society. Although they had gone out of fashion by the 18th century, judges, the military, the clergy and some other professionals continued to wear smaller, more formal wigs into the 19th century, and they have been retained as part of court dress to the present day.
Today, wigs are worn as a symbol of office by the legal professions. The traditional, long full-bottomed wig is now only worn by judges on ceremonial occasions such as during the procession to mark the start of the legal year (called the “kirking of the court”). A shorter, more practical style is worn in court. However, not all judges wear wigs. They are not worn in Justice of the Peace courts, tribunals, or in some proceedings involving children.
The wigs are made from horsehair from the tail or mane, which in the past made wigs more practical as it could have the same off-white colour as a powdered wig without the need for powder.