Ever feel stuck on how to look fashionable but ‘appropriate’ in a legal office? As a ‘dress code infringer’ myself, I know that treading the style line has to be done with a bit of corporate care.
Ex-Wall Street litigator and fashion and lifestyle blogger, Kat Griffin from the acclaimed blog, Corporette, knows all about popping on outfits that looked cool when you left the house only to find they’re kinda inappropriate when you reach the office. Kat’s fabulous fashion and lifestyle blog is a great read for women lawyers, bankers, MBAs, consultants, and otherwise overachieving chicks who need to look professional but want to look fashionable.
Here’s our exclusive Q&A Kat Griffin, offering you insight and tips on how to maintain serious sartorial style as a lawyer without losing your chutzpah.
Q: Top UK human rights barrister, Amal Clooney, is renowned for her high profile cases and celebrity boyfriend – but gets gold stars for her fashion sense too. How can lawyers be fashion forward like Amal and inject their own unique personality into their wardrobe whilst still making ‘office appropriate’ choices in the conservative legal profession?
A: Well, Amal is a great example because she usually looks polished and classic. Some of her more eccentric looks (mismatched shoes, for example) are minimal statements that don’t hit you over the head. She also clearly knows the importance of tailoring and quality items.
Q: What 5 items of clothing should every style savvy corporate lawyer have in their wardrobe?
- Classic black or nude pumps you can walk in for at least a mile.
- A tailored season-less wool suit, preferably with numerous matching pieces such as a sheath dress, a blazer, a pair of trousers, and a pencil skirt.
- An honest to goodness watch — your iPhone may tell you the time but it doesn’t convey responsibility and other good traits the way a watch does (such as attention to detail).
- A statement ring. It doesn’t clatter while you’re typing like some bracelets do and it doesn’t distract while you’re speaking like some dangly earrings do — but if you’re at a cocktail party networking it’s an easy conversation starter as it is often noticed if you’re holding your glass with the same hand as your statement ring, and
- A sheath dress that makes you feel like a million bucks and looks good with date night heels as well as a blazer and pearls.
Q: Litigation attorneys may be familiar with the issue of making the right shoe choice when they head to court. Ie, are flats OK? What about strappy slingbacks? What is your top recommendation for a great ‘court’ shoe?
A: Shoe propriety — such a hot topic! I’ve discovered that it varies WIDELY by region and office, so I always tell my readers: know your office. Peep toes are going to be A-OK in some places, but in others they’re going to raise eyebrows. The safe choice is always the classic pump shape: closed toes, not too pointy, not too high (2.5″-3″ is a great height).
Q: What do you recommend law graduates wear to professional interviews? Any no nos?
A: Interview attire should be as classic as you get — you’re trying to make a statement with your resume and accomplishments, not your fashion choice. Especially for recent law school grads, who are usually interviewing at big firms rather than small boutiques (where personality might be a plus), the goal for your interview outfit is for it to not distract. You want to be remembered for your resume, not your outfit. So: navy, gray, black skirt suit. Pantyhose. Closed-toe shoes. Classic jewelry. Nothing too trendy with your hair or makeup.
Q: Who is your fave fashion icon and why?
A: Fashion icon — ack, so many. Personally I’ve always loved Kate Hepburn’s sure, confident style — it took a lot of guts to wear some of the stuff she wore back then (trousers, gasp!) and she always made it look amazing.
Who is your favourite fashion icon? What do you wear to your legal office?
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