Expectations. We all have them. No matter the topic, our expectations are robust and unwavering – which is good news, really, because that means we’re a discerning bunch capable of spotting a fraud a mile off. We know what things should look like and if they don’t, we raise an eyebrow. Expectations are therefore necessarily great, for reasons of protecting our own interests. This is nothing new, of course. Charles Dickens knew Expectations to be great and wrote a book about it. Although, I can’t seem to remember the title (haha – no really, that was a joke, don’t lose faith in me just yet!).
Back to the point. Expectations are essential. They tell us what fits the bill, and what doesn’t. If you want to be successful in life, you have to give the people what they want – not what you think is the right way or what you think they need, but what they desire. For example, if you were to walk into a car dealership to see a poodle wearing a sash that read “salesperson of the month, ask me anything” you might try your luck elsewhere. And if you were to walk into a law firm to see your hired legal practitioner playing indoor golf while in beachwear and a cape, you might think “oops, my mistake” and seek representation elsewhere. With that in mind,
Table of Contents
Let’s look at how to dress for a career in law (see this law firm to get more of an idea of what to expect in the law industry).
A wardrobe of options
We’ll get to the differences between expected ‘legal attire’ for men and women in a moment. First, a note on changing clothes backstage – because you may need to do it (a lot). Depending on your planned meetings for the day, and depending on whether you’re going to be in the office, in court, visiting clients, or any combination of the above, you’re going to have to change your clothes. Keep spare sets of clothes in a backroom or even in your car. You won’t regret it.
Try to gauge it – ask yourself, who am I meeting? Do I know them well, and if so, how do they normally dress? This doesn’t mean you have to mimic their style but if they are very casual it could give you a bit more leeway – the likelihood is they won’t expect you to turn up in a three-piece suit.
However, if you’re unsure, it is probably best to overdress than underdress, as dressing smartly has a whole set of positive connotations in the world of law – you mean business, and you want your clothing to reflect this. You want people to take you seriously, which they might struggle too if you rock up in an old, stained t-shirt and short-shorts.
When it comes to hair, makeup and piercings it’s best to keep it pretty simple – neutral is the way forward here, and if you think about it, how many lawyers do you know with rainbow hair and facial piercings? Unfortunately, you are quite restricted in this sense but you can always save your wackier styles for the weekend.
Women’s legal attire
Let’s start with the obvious. Suits and blouses and business shoes. That’s home. Avoid halter tops and stretch pants and other casual wear. Knit tops, V-neck sweaters with a blouse, and turtlenecks or cardigans may also be acceptable as long as, again, the style is not too casual.
Men’s legal attire
For men, stick to collars. Avoid tee-shirts. Avoid denim, Avoid anything in the casual or smart-casual category, including sports shoes, shorts, and anything sporting a large logo. This pretty much means stick to suits and business shoes, but slacks and khakis paired with V-neck sweaters or cardigans work too.
Featured image source: USA Network