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Dress code for law firms

28th June 2016

Dress code for lawyers

Whether it is an interview for a legal job or you are starting a new job at a law firm, one thing that people stress about is choosing an outfit as the dress code for many law firms is often strict.

The dress code for law firms has also been put firmly in the spotlight after it was recently revealed that a woman was sent home from work after refusing to wear high heels, which you can read more about here.

For anyone starting new legal jobs or for employees who are unsure of what clothes they should wear at work, then our guide to law firm dress codes below will help you.

The basics

  • Ask the law firm if there is a specific dress code
  • Wear a tailored suit in a neutral colour
  • Conservative leather shoes or heels, cleaned and polished
  • Don’t wear casual clothing like flip flops, collared t-shirts or summer dresses
  • Jewellery is fine to wear, but limit it to a few tasteful accessories
  • Neat and well-groomed hairstyles are a must
  • Avoid heavy cologne/perfume
  • Avoid visible tattoos and piercings

Men

Clare Mountain of King and Allen, the bespoke tailors who have stores in London, Surrey and Cheshire, says it is important to look the part.

She said, “Whether you like it or not, the way you present yourself affects the way you are perceived by others, so choose to dress impeccably.”

Suits

It is important for those in temporary and permanent lawyer jobs to own at least one high-quality suit, but King and Allen recommend owning three.

Clare Mountain, said, “Invest in at least 3 high-quality suits - it is far better to own a few great suits than a wardrobe of shabby ones.

“If you can, go bespoke. A well-fitting suit will elevate your look enormously - in fact, you will wonder why you didn't do it earlier! If bespoke isn't an option for you, buy a high-quality suit that fits reasonably well off-the-peg and have a good tailor alter it to fit you correctly.

“Always get an extra pair of trousers with your suits and alternate them between wears. It will drastically lengthen the life of your suits.

“When choosing the cloth, keep it conservative. Navy and charcoal cloths in pinstripe, herringbone or sharkskin designs are excellent options.”

Suits for men

Shirts

Shirts can often be a bone of contention for male lawyers up and down the country. Is it ok to wear colourful shirts or should you be wearing more simple shirts?

King and Allen’s Clare Mountain, added, “The key is to keep your attire simple, tidy and, crucially, well-fitting. Shirts must be ironed and shoes must be shined.”

Long sleeve or short sleeve shirts are both acceptable, but polo shirts and other collared shirts and t-shirts are unacceptable to wear in client meetings or in court.

Shirts

Shoes

According to Legal Careers, when it comes to the type of shoes lawyers should wear they recommend wearing conservative leather shoes to be worn with dark socks. For casual business days at the office, laced loafers would be acceptable.

It is also important that shoes are polished and that shoes which are scuffed or worn are not used. Flip flops and sandals are definitely a no.

Women

Just like it is for men, female lawyers also need to consider how they dress as it can help inspire trust, command respect and portray a professional image.

Suits and dresses

A guide to women’s suiting on Corporette says women should wear navy, dark charcoal or black suits.

Another great option is to wear a skirt suit and again a dark, navy or charcoal grey dress would be best.

A guide on Blue Suits Online advises women to wear a classic two or three button jacket with a slim skirt to look professional. An A-line, flared or wrap skirt does not look professional and would not be appropriate to wear in court or when meeting clients.

Suits for women

Shirts

The Blue Suits Online guide suggests women who have only just started a lawyer job should usually wear a shirt in white or French blue as it looks professional and is a safe option. More senior personnel can wear a V-neck or a knit round neck shirt underneath their suit jacket.

Along with a shirt, Blue Suits Online recommend wearing some jewellery and suggest pearl, gold or silver necklaces can really round off your professional look.

Shoes and handbags

Black shoes are usually the normal choice for lawyers and other legal workers, but you can pick a different coloured shoe depending on the colour of your suit and the occasion where you’ll be wearing them. An article on Glamour says that whilst it is best to avoid shoes that have fluoro-bright colours, a print or pastel style can add a brighter feel to your outfit.

Employees need to make sure their shoes are always clean and that they don’t wear high heels that you have trouble walking in.

A closed-toe, mid-heel shoe is generally considered a safe option. However, if it is a new job you are starting, then it is always best to check that there are no specific requirements when it comes to shoes.

If dressing as conservatively as possible is the best option, your handbag should ideally be the same colour as your shoes as black shoes and a pink bag, for example, will look extremely odd.

Handbags don’t have to be big and bulky and some female lawyers prefer briefcases as it is more convenient to carry work, files and other stationery.

Briefcase

Image Credit: King and Allen, Denna Jones.