Work It: Elevating Your Wardrobe For The Professional Legal Realm

January 24, 2014

Woman professionalAdvising female law students on what they should wear in a professional situation is a little harder than talking about what men would wear, because A.) Women have a lot more options than men do, clothing-wise and B.) I’m a dude.

Even though I have a Y chromosome, my alma mater had a lot of co-ed “professional preparation” seminars and I have many lady-lawyer friends, so I’m at least qualified to pass along some received wisdom.

(Please do note it’s received wisdom. I’m not implying that a man should be the one to tell women what to wear, or that women should constantly be thinking about men’s opinions of them.)

What that caveat in mind…

  • Let’s talk about the shoes: If it can be described using the terms “peep-toe,” “strappy” or “platform,” it’s probably best worn in context other than the one we’re talking about here.
  • Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication: A female friend of mine, who is a successful associate at a Large Law firm, once told me she tries to wear button earrings or studs, since they’re less flashy than chandelier earrings or hoops. I don’t know if everyone everywhere feels the way she does, but the overall message of this piece of advice – aim for a graceful, understated complement, rather than a statement – seems like a good one to me.
  • Pretend you’re seeking grandma’s approval: Granny, bless her heart, is less interested in what’s stylish than she is in what’s appropriate. There are worse outlooks on life to remember when you’re trying to decide what to wear in the morning.
  • Neutral’s never wrong: Grayscale outfits can feel a little boring to many young women, but remember this – it’s pretty hard to fault someone for wearing tasteful neutrals. Also, keep in mind that it’s quite acceptable to add a little pop of color with something like a printed silk scarf.

Will’s personal nomination for Red Carpet All-Star is Marion Cotillard. He isn’t going to share any Best/Worst Dressed Lists on LargeMidLaw or the Legal Solutions – Large Law Firms blog, but you should check them out anyway.