Lawyers of all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life, practicing in various industries, and regardless of whether they’re a female or male need to know a thing or two about dressing for success. It doesn’t matter if you’re already an associate or you’re just finishing up law school, these tips will apply to interviews, company mixers, and your every day job.
Many people like to avoid dressing for success because they believe their skills and their talents should speak for themselves. And this is absolutely true. But you shouldn’t think of dressing for the job as a means of vanity. Dressing up, playing the part, and looking sharp while doing so is about coming off as confident, put-together, and intelligent. That’s right, the clothes you wear and the way you wear them can influence how others perceive you. And to lawyers who must constantly sell themselves to clients and sell their clients to juries, there’s no better way to make an air of distinction than with a great suit.
Here are a few secrets on dressing for success. You’ll look good, but you’ll feel good, too.
If The Shoe Fits…
A common mistake many people make when picking out clothes is not knowing their size. You might pick out a slick $5000 suit, but if it doesn’t fit right, you might as well be wearing a potato sack! Size plays a major part in dressing up for the job, so much so that it can make a cheap dress look great simply because it fits correctly.
If you’re unsure about your size, go to a tailor and get measured. Many department stores even staff their own tailors who are always available to make measurements. After you have a couple numbers to work with, the most important thing is to not be ashamed of them! If you think you’re too big or too small, it really doesn’t matter once you’ve got the outfit that fits right.
Talk to a personal shopper or a retail associate about finding colors that look best on you, styles that fit your body, and trends you can own. Stripes look good on just about everybody, and so do neutral colors like navy blue. You can’t go wrong when you have a few of these essentials in your closet.
It’s Better To Be Overdressed Than Underdressed
We all have this image that lawyers are always dressed to the nines, making sure to have their suits dry cleaned and their shoes polished. In reality, only a small percentage of lawyers dress so extravagantly. The rest of us might work in more relaxed settings where a full suit and tie isn’t necessary; maybe just some khakis and a nice sweater. While this might be perfect attire for the office, it’s not necessarily perfect attire for meeting with clients.
You know better that not all lawyers wear Armani suits, but your clients will be expecting someone with an air of confidence, someone who can fight their case like it was their own. Khakis and a sweater might not inspire that kind of confidence. The moral of the story is that you should always dress up, even when your office lets you sport a more relaxed feel.
Afraid of being overdressed? The old saying, “It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed” starts to ring quite true here. People might scoff at a person in ripped jeans and white t-shirt, but they’ll almost never second-guess a person in a sharp suit. When it comes to your job, you really can’t ever be too dressed up. So iron those shirts, fix up those blazers, and make sure you look presentable no matter where you’re going or whom you’re meeting with.
Have Personal Flair
There are a lot of business fashion trends right now. Pointy-toed heels are in for women, striped suits are starting to make a comeback for men, and so on. But no matter which styles you like the best, remember to always have a little personal flair accompany your outfit. Whether it’s a tie, a fun watch, or your favorite necklace, making the outfit “your own” will sell it all the more.
Be careful not to over accessorize or stray too far from social norms. Even if you’re a little bit ahead of the fashion trends, stick to mostly modern clothing and keeping it subdued. You’re in the business of helping others, so you should never wear an outfit that steals the spotlight for yourself.
From job interviews to networking events to client meetings, you never know how people are going to perceive you. Therefore, you should always set out to make the best first impressions possible by dressing for success. Wearing clothes that fit, are considered “dressy,” and have a little bit of a personal touch are a safe bet regardless of what your schedule looks like.