When going to court, lawyers wear the usual business attire. Judges disallowed female lawyers to go to court in trousers during the 1970s. Now, it is a totally different story. Female lawyers can now go to court proceedings in pantsuits.
In the early years, how the court dressed up was somehow similar to that of the British courts. The lower courts donned white powdered wigs and black robes. The higher courts can be seen wearing red with black markings. This was the norm up until the middle of the 19th century.
At present, judges can go to court in their own courtroom attire. There are some, however, that are required to wear robes when presiding hearings. The most common robe is a black one with a white-collar. Beneath the robe is either business attire or business casual attire.
Judges have a long history with wigs and robes in court. On the other hand, lawyers always wear business attire.
Before the 1970s, the morning dress was something of a requirement for lawyers. This is mainly for those that appear before the Supreme Court. Later on, the court did away with this dress code. But it was somehow maintained by the Solicitor General for a time.
At the time, striped trousers should pair striped trousers a morning dress. Completing the ensemble is a gray ascot, waistcoat, as well as a cutaway morning coat.
Female lawyers also wore a female version at the time. The dress code is the same, only that it is adjusted to fit female measurements.
Do lawyers have a dress code?
Lawyers do away with suits, dress shirts, and a tie (or any neckwear) for males. The dress shirt should be buttoned up. Female lawyers also wear business attire. This can be composed of pantsuits or skirts with a blouse for a top.
For lawyers, first impressions mean a lot. Whether you are showing up to court or meeting clients, dressing up is a critical part. This is because a lawyer’s professional image depends on two important things. First is on a lawyer’s capacity to defend its clients. Second, in his image as well.
For every occasion, different levels of business dress are required. It can be a bit confusing, what with all the rules and expectations. But below is a guide for lawyers to make a great impression by dressing upright.
The Dress Code
For every occasion, there will always be an appropriate dress code. Some are tried and tested. But dressing up as a lawyer can be more than that. Of course, there are options.
You can learn about them here.
There would always be the more acceptable colors when it comes to business attire. What we are talking about are the neutral colors. The neutral and classic colors are your best bets when dressing up for court.
Examples of these are navy and dark to medium gray shades. Even the dark ones like charcoal would even do. If your preference is on the lighter shades, go with a subtle gray. For both male and female lawyers, these colors always work.
In other business sectors, black is always a safe choice. But for lawyers, they always try to avoid it as much as they can. You see, in a lawyer’s world, black suits are for formal firm activities. These are usually in the evenings and are not within office hours.
But as black is generally a color of mourning, most still avoid it as much as possible.
In other professions, colors like green, tan, or brown are good enough. For lawyers, however, these colors are always avoided. These are way too informal to be used when appearing in court.
Suits and blazers are common in most law firms. Pair them with suit jackets, and you’re a lawyer through and through. You can get them from your neighborhood store. But having these tailored to fit you perfectly well is an advantage.
It is not a requirement. But it is a great option. A suit and a suit jacket made just for you would appear seamless and could even enhance your appearance.
If this is too much for you, you can just make sure the jackets are tailored well. You can settle for a piece that you so like and have it altered. Make sure the fit is perfect. It should be better compared to wearing a baggy suit jacket to court.
One of the factors to consider is for lawyers to look clean-cut and professional. Never show up with wrinkled clothing. It destroys your overall image, no matter how nice your suit is.
As such, clothes must be pressed or ironed. At no chance should you look worn. Dry cleaning your business attire is a convenient way to do it.
For most lawyers, they usually have a backup outfit that is ready. This is in case unexpected events call for the use of these business clothes.
Always with Dress Shirts
To dress up as a lawyer, always remember to have dress shirts ready. A tee will never do.
And when showing up, make sure the dress shirt is pressed and ironed. It should be free from wrinkles.
Dress shirts should be light-colored. That’s the standard. As such, most lawyers choose white, cream, or a light blue shade.
When dressing up, however, take note of your pairings. Your dress shirt’s color should pair well with the suit’s color and the rest of your clothes. It should fit well. It should never be too tight.
Sometimes, lawyers get together for informal events. During these occasions, you can relax your dress shirt a bit. You can go in your dress shirt. But you can always choose not to fully-button up.
On the other hand, you can always go in a golf shirt. A sweater or polo is also acceptable. But before you go with these, try to check your firm’s dress code. That should guide you on what is acceptable or not.
Dress Codes According to Gender
When it comes to dress codes, there are different fashions for males and females. Because of that, there are varying dress codes when it comes to business attire. Most of these are similar to each other. Some similarities are because of the acceptable colors as well as the need for jackets.
The Dress Code for Male Lawyers
For male lawyers, suits are always the best option. Dress shirts should also be worn and buttoned up. Together with the dress shirt, male lawyers should also have neckwear. Ties are the most common.
While bowties can sometimes work with the ensemble, it is often discouraged. While still a formal accessory, it is because bowties are a bit subdued. This is when compared with the traditional neckties.
When it comes to neckties, the rule is to stay classic. Avoid flashy ties. When choosing a necktie color, go with the safer choices. If you prefer to go with a pattern, make sure to go with subtle patterns.
You also have to make sure that the tie matches the dress shirt.
When it comes to shoes, always avoid casual shoes. Classic dress shoes are advisable. It should also match the suit. On certain occasions, loafers would also do well.
But when one chooses to be safe, go with dark leather shoes. Pair it with dark dress socks, and you get the perfect pair.
One last reminder, shoes should be shined. Make sure that it is in good condition.
Finally, trim that facial hair.
Dress Codes for Female Lawyers
For female lawyers, dressing up maybe a bit more complicated than the males. While the colors are like those of the male’s, everything else is different.
Tailored suits are common in female lawyers. However, black is more acceptable in female lawyers when it comes to its color than for males.
For lawyers, even females, a blazer or a suit jacket is a must. Females can also wear pants or a skirt. For female lawyers, skirts are acceptable. As long as the skirt is within a certain style, it is acceptable.
When it comes to skirts, avoid those with flares or ruffles.
Skirts should be those that are of straight or pencil style designs. It should reach the knees or a little bit below that.
For the tops, female lawyers get to wear a more diverse style. As long as the material is not sheer or the design is not too low cut, it should be fine. Female lawyers also need to ensure that the top is not too tight.
As for the colors, great options should be white, cream, or light blue tones. Steer clear of casual styles of shirts. These are the halter styles, tank tops, or tops with cutouts.
Female lawyers have a lot more options than males when it comes to shoes. Females can wear heels or flats, with the color remaining neutral.
How do you dress like a lawyer?
Dressing up like a lawyer is simple. Whether it is going to court or meeting a client, a well-cut suit always works. Dark suits range in colors of navy or gray. Pair the dark suit with a lighter-colored shirt, and you got yourself looking smart.
Are you beginning your lawyering career? Or are you aiming for a professional look for a business meeting?
Dressing up for Men
Dressing up for men is somewhat easier than it is for women. For males, a well-cut suit works well. Females can opt for a suit or pair a blazer with a skirt. A dress would also do. But for females, there is always the consideration of how conservative the event will be. So, take note.
Your location would also have a say in how you dress up. Different places have different expectations when it comes to dressing up. Before the meeting, try to understand the location you are in. What is acceptable? What is not?
In warm and humid places, you may find that the culture is more laid back. Will a business casual look be enough? Most of the time, it is. Say, for example, San Diego. Here, you can see lawyers dressing up more casually than lawyers in NYC. It’s because of the weather.
Aside from the weather, NYC’s norm also expects lawyers to dress up in suits and ties. When in the city for a business meeting, you would be expected to follow the norm.
In fact, lawyers in NYC tend to be luxuriously-dressed up most of the time. Once in a while, you may even see them with expensive and branded suits and bags.
Places dictate the dress code, that’s for sure. In contrast to NYC’s expectations, rural places in Iowa, for example, do not expect you to dress up as much. As long as you remain conservative and professional, you’re all set.
Aside from the weather, another consideration is the client you will be meeting with. In NYC, for example, most of the clients would be well-off and expect you to dress formally. But clients like the tech executives in Silicon Valley may expect you to dress casually.
Dressing up for Women
For females, a suit is also a much-needed piece. Suits for women can be trouser-suits. Or you could also wear a smart skirt and pair it with a blazer.
When wearing a skirt, one, however, should understand the culture one is in. Most times, skirts are expected to be at least 2 to 3 inches below the knee.
Pay attention to everyone around you. Are there more bare legs inside the office? If there are, go with that skirt. But if there are not, dress conservatively.
And when it comes to colors, a dark suit paired with a light shirt always works.
Another option is to always have a blazer handy. For females, adding a blazer to the look will, right away, add that professional look. You can wear it over a skirt or dress. It can also be paired with trousers. Always have a dark blazer ready for unexpected meetings.
And before anything else, let this be a reminder. Never overdo your accessories. While a luxury item adds to your “successful” image, it can destroy the look when in excess.
Dressing up for lawyers includes a lot of planning. One should always be aware of what (and what not) to wear.
The jury is composed of different individuals with different backgrounds. They decide the fate of your client. The members of the jury decide based on subtle nuances. That could even include nonverbal behavior and manners of dressing up.
As such, it is important to always discuss. Discuss the style and the dress. It can, at some point, influence the verdict.