How Lawyers Should Dress

Many law students say they wanted to be a lawyer because they loved how lawyers dressed. Well, that’s right. Lawyers always appear dignified in their suits. However, what suits should males and females wear?

First impressions count a lot. What you wear and your outward appearance are tops factors in how others will perceive you as a person. As a part of the legal sector, you should always dress for success.

As a lawyer, dressing for success means looking professional, understated, and dignified. It would help if you did not come across as being too fashionable or flashy with your clothes. Instead, you want to look respected as a man or woman of the law.

This guide will show lawyers what to wear at the office, when meeting clients and when appearing in court.

How Male Lawyers Should Dress:

Male lawyers should remember to always wear appropriate attire in the course of practicing the law profession. They must always look like respectable lawyers at all times.

A suit with a dress shirt and tie and leather shoes will make any male lawyer look respectable. Here are a few tips.

• The Suit

The suit is the king of any lawyer’s wardrobe. The perfect suit could be single-breasted because double-breasted suits may be too much.

A single-breasted suit is a norm, although double-breasted suits are more classic and traditional. It is more formal than single-breasted suits, too.

However, some people think that double-breasted suits are too overpowering and will make lawyers look as though you work in Wall Street.

Start with a two-piece suit. You can also opt for a three-piece suit with a vest—dark solid-colored suits (charcoal, grey, or navy blue, are the most appropriate.

A black suit is more suitable for funerals and evening events rather than for office use. A browned-colored suite is too casual, too. A subtle stripe suit (pinstripe, plain-colored stripe in off-white, grey, or dark blue) is also acceptable.

Avoid using bright-colored suits because people will not take you seriously for these colors can also distract your clients.

• The Dress Shirt

White or light blue dress shirts are most appropriate for male lawyers. You can opt for French cuffs, barrel cuffs with buttons, double cuffs for cufflinks.

You can play around with the colors of your dress shirts. You can wear dress shirts with waffle weaves, subtle stripes, plain weaves, twill, or anything you wish as long as they are not too bright, and looks professional and subtle.

Be mindful of the collars, too. Avoid cutaway collars and seventies collars.

• The Necktie

Go for classic ties. Please stay away from bow ties because they can look a bit flashy. Opt for jacquard woven or printed silk ties. Avoid textured materials that are best suited for casual wardrobe instead of for a lawyer’s professional wear.

Ties in blue, navy, burgundy, or very dark purple. Avoid shiny satin neckties because they tend to make you look cheap. Instead, go for grenadine neckties because they add more texture to your suit.

Make sure, too, that your tie is of the right length. The length should be above your waistband.

• Shoes

You should always wear the appropriate shoes. The legal industry standard is to wear black, leather dress shoes with black, dark gray, navy, or brown socks. The color of your socks, of course, depends on the color of your suit.

While lawyers have a standard dress code, you will also want to be a little bit flexible, depending on most of your clients’ environment.

If you have many artists or musician clients or are into environmental law, you will need to opt for a more relaxed dress code.

How Women Lawyers should Dress:

The dress code for women lawyers is a bit more complicated. There has been an increase in female lawyers in recent years, leading to the controversy on how women lawyers should dress.

• The Suit

Women lawyers should wear a suit for consultations, meetings, and court appearances. You could opt for a trouser suit or a smart skirt (two or three inches of the knee or depending on your office’s dress code) with a blazer.

Wear some tights or stockings if bare legs can be a problem.  Choose dark-colored suits and pair them with light shirts.

• The Smart Dress

You can also opt for a smart dress instead of a suit. Make sure, though, to maintain a professional and conservative look. A sheath dress with a blazer is the best in most cases. You can wear a sleeveless dress, but you should have your blazer or cardigan at all times to avoid showing straps and cover your arms.

Like skits, dresses should also be too tight, and their length should be just around the knee. Stick to dark colors, too.

• The Blazer

Always have a blazer in dark grey, charcoal, or navy handy. Adding a blazer over your dress, trousers, or skirt will immediately make you look more professional. Keep a dark blazer in your office so you can quickly smarten up for any unexpected meetings or when a client comes in.

• The Shoes

Smart, practical, and comfortable shoes are your best options. Big heels will make you look powerful and confident. Make sure, though, that it will not cause you any pain. To be more practical and comfortable, go for smart flats, wedges, and kitten hills.

Whether attending a casual event, a meeting, consultation, or a formal court hearing, women lawyers should adhere to this dress code to look professional and respectable.

Here are some pieces of clothing women lawyers should avoid:

• Capris that are above the knee

• Mini skirts

• Low cut tops

• Tight-fitting tops

• Yoga style pants

• Stretch pants

• Shirts or dresses that show any cleavage

• Skirts or dresses that reveal too much of your legs.

Simply put, women lawyers should follow the same dress code as male lawyers; wear suits with the same styles as men, specifically suits or blazers over trousers.

General Look of Lawyers

To look respectable and professional, lawyers (men and women) should not only wear the right outfits. They should also wear the right accessories and be well-groomed.

• Hairstyle

Men should have shorter hairstyles with a conservative and neat style. Facial hair should be well-groomed and not too long. Women should sport short and neat hairstyle as well without brightly-colored hair colors

• Accessories

This applies more to women than to men, although men should avoid wearing earrings.

Accessories and jewelry are acceptable for women as long as they are not excessively extravagant. Cheap and fancy-looking jewelry may not look appropriate, too. Stay away from strong perfume, heavy makeup, revealing tattoos, or bra straps.

Professional-looking pins and tie clips are acceptable for men, but wearing too much jewelry (earrings in particular), revealing tattoos, and excessive cologne are not appropriate.

• Briefcases

While this is not part of a lawyer’s attire, briefcases are essential to lawyers. Male and women lawyers should carry the right briefcases for their legal documents. They should also conform to the dress code for lawyers because they can destroy their overall appearance.

Can you imagine what a briefcase with an image of your favorite superhero or cartoon character does to your image as a lawyer? Professional-looking briefcases for men and women lawyers should be made of leather and be black or brown.

Wardrobe Expectations:

While there is a standard dress code for male and women lawyers, certain conditions and environments call for flexibility:

• Where you Live

Wardrobe expectations and dress codes vary based on where you live. Therefore, it is normal for different parts of the US to have different wardrobe expectations and add dress codes.

Therefore, it is essential to know the norms where you live and make sure to follow them.

If you are unsure of a particular norm, be cautious. You will never go wrong if you dress conservatively and formally. A court appearance will always warrant a suit or professional and formal business attire for men and women lawyers.

• Your Clients

Choosing your wardrobe based on where you live is not the only factor you need to keep in mind. Lawyers should also dress based on their types of clients.

If you practice law in one of the big firms in New York, you are expected to always dress in a formal business suit because most of your clients will be wealthy business people. You will need to match their attire.

On the other hand, if you practice law in Silicon Valley and work mainly with young tech professionals, you are expected to dress comfortably and casually just as their clients do.

Many people say that tech people do not trust anyone that wears a tie. Of course, that is a joke, but the thing is to avoid wearing ties in Silicon Valley to be one of them.

• Work Environment

There are different dress codes for different work environments. If you work for a big law firm, you are most likely to be expected to wear a business suit every day.

You can wear a more comfortable and casual attire if you instead work for a nonprofit organization. Well, if you are into a solo practice, you can dress in whatever manner you want to. But of course, you need to dress appropriately for a court appearance.

Final Thoughts

Lawyers should look respectable and professional so clients will have peace of mind that they can provide solutions to their legal issues. Wearing the right appropriate attire matters a lot.

Martin Vermaak

The Lawyer Marketing Pro Digital Marketing Agency for Lawyers and Law Firms.

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