The Dos and Don'ts of Dressing as a Lady Lawyer

How Are You Supposed to Dress as a Female Lawyer? Excellent Question.

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As a woman, it is difficult enough to figure out how to dress without hearing other people’s opinions on the matter.  Unfortunately, people have a lot of opinions! Dressing as a lady lawyer is one of the most talked about topics when it comes to the dress code for lawyers in general, and it’s worth discussing some of the dos and don’ts of the clothes women are wearing to their legal jobs.

Do Dress Conservatively

One thing is for certain—Ally McBeal did not dress appropriately.

Her skirts were too short and her blouses showed too much cleavage, at least by courtroom standards. Lady lawyers should make sure that their outfits cover them in such a way that their clothing does not distract from the point they are trying to make. Practicing the law is all about using your brain, so your intelligence should be your most prominent feature. Pantsuits and skirtsuits are safe options here, along with moderately comfortable shoes (read: not stilettos, but also not crocks).

Don’t Wear Clothes that Don’t Fit

While showing too much skin is definitely distracting, wearing ill-fitting clothes is also cause for alarm when it comes to wardrobe. One of the most important things to remember when choosing work clothing is to make sure you’re buying what fits you—feeling good in your clothes is half the battle.

Do Show Your Sense of Style

This has been discussed before, but there is nothing wrong with weaving some of your own style into your business wardrobe.

Do you have a favorite color? Wear that color shirt under your suit jacket. Do you like sparkly things? Include one accessory, as long as it’s not distracting. Just because you’re in a stuffy courtroom doesn’t mean that your style has to be stifled. Just remember—the other people in the room should notice your intelligence before they notice what you wear.

As long as you follow that rule of thumb, you should be just fine.

Don’t Go Overboard

As previously stated, you are free to include your fashion sense into your wardrobe, but don’t overdo it. Just because you like sequins doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to wear a bedazzled jacket in court. Find understated ways to show your personality, and you can’t go wrong.

Do Follow Any Explicit Dress Codes

Does your firm or court have a specific and explicit dress code? Don’t even dream of not following it! That is the easiest way for you to go wrong with dressing as a lady lawyer. Dress codes are in place for a reason (even if the reason doesn’t seem to make sense). Nothing says “unprofessional” like someone who blatantly disregards the dress code. If you want the freedom to start incorporating your own style into your wardrobe, start by making sure everything follows the dress code and build from there.

Don’t Tolerate People Telling You How to Dress

Aside from a written wardrobe policy, you shouldn’t have to tolerate others commenting on what you wear on a daily basis. This is a growing trend in the legal realm—everyone from law school professors to judges seem to think they should have a say in what female lawyers wear to work.

And their statements are all over the map—some think skirts are distracting while others think pantsuits are too masculine. To all the lady lawyers out there—you do you, as long as it’s within reason. 

Dressing as a female lawyer isn’t always easy—there is a fine line that must be carefully balanced upon, like a tight rope. The most important thing to remember is that you should be able to keep your own sense of style while still following all the dress codes applicable to the courtroom. Don’t let the myriad of voices bother you too much!