The Weekly Edit: Trusted Advisers

Sep 26, 2019

Every fall, my law school invites me back to talk to the 1Ls and 2Ls about fashion choices for job interviews.  To get ready for this year’s presentation, I asked my Instagram followers to share their best tips for those just starting out.  And, unsurprisingly, their advice was on point.  Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Why does what you wear to work matter?  Because what you wear is a reflection of your judgment.
  2. Looking back, I wish I would have worn more jackets, less cardigans.  It’s a cliche, but dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
  3. I could have used some advice on how to dress in a male-dominated field.  It’s tough to confer the same professionalism as a woman when men can just wear suits and repeat outfits.  It’s just one more way they get to feel at home at work, and we get to feel like outsiders.
  4. Think about what you’re going to wear to an interview, plan it out before hand, but don’t stress about it or wear something brand new.  Nothing is worse than interviewing someone who is clearly uncomfortable in their clothes.
  5. Business casual attire is a minefield. “Forget” about Casual Fridays on the first Friday, then see what everyone else wears.
  6. Don’t ask someone who has never been where you’re going what the dress code is.  Vogue doesn’t know what you should wear to work.  The Kardashians don’t know what you should wear to work.  Your boss, your mentors, they know what you should wear to work.
  7. Just throwing on a blazer or a cardigan does not make something business attire.  If you can’t wear it to work alone, you can’t wear it to work.

So what’s the advice you wish someone had given you about dressing for work when you were just starting out?  Leave it in the comments.

As we move into 2020, campaign season is upon us.  Out on the trail, you want to look nice, but not too nice.  You want your candidate, the staff, the other consultants, and voters to take you seriously, but you don’t want to be overdressed when walking through a sale barn in Ramsay, MT.

This LOFT blazer with the tie-waist pairs well with denim (it also comes in petite and plus, and is marked down 40%).  LOFT has a good selection of blazers this fall.  I love their elbow patch blazers in grey or navy herringbone.  And this faux suede moto jacket is just the thing for jeans or pair it with a floral dress for a cool, romantic look.

This weekend, I watched Inside Bill’s Brain, a three-part documentary about Bill Gates.  The series goes into his foundation and their work trying to eliminate polio, bring sanitation to the developing world, and address climate change through safe nuclear power.

The series is incredible.  I ended up watching it twice.

At my parents’ suggestion, I also watched Yesterday this weekend.  The film tells the story of a struggling musician, who after a worldwide power outage, is the only person who has ever heard of The Beatles.  Predictably, he starts covering the work of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, and suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of a one-man Beatlemania.

The movie is charming and light with a side of uplifting.  But, fair warning, you’ll be humming the Beatles’ catalog for a week.

Also, if you love The Beatles, you’ll love watching Sir Paul on Carpool Karaoke.

When I was young, my grandparents owned a gift shop in Orcas Island, WA where, among other things, they carried Yankee Candles.  Every Christmas, my grandfather would set aside a Macintosh Apple candle for my present, because they were my favorite.

So when I smelled this Honeycrisp Apple Candle from Trader Joe’s, I almost fainted.  It’s the exact same scent.

The candles run $3.99 at Trader Joe’s.  I just went and grabbed five more.  I may need to stock up again, since they’re seasonal and sell out.  If you don’t have a TJ’s near you, you can pick them up on Amazon for a rather depressing markup.

I think it’s fair to say at this point, that I have seen every episode of Dateline, ever.  Their newest podcast, The Thing About Pam, covers one of the strangest cases they’ve ever shared.  Add to that the soothing baritone of correspondent Keith Morrison and 1/2 hour episodes, and this is my new mid-afternoon pick me up.

If you’re not a Dateline watcher, I’m actually a bit jealous that you’ll get to hear this crazy murder mystery for the first time.  Because it is a doozy.

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  1. jess says:

    I feel like #3 feels a bit like pushing a gender issue. You know what? I love getting to choose my clothes and would get absolutely out of my mind bonkers repeating my suits like this person says men do. Home is whatever I want it to be. Not made hard because I have to get dressed for work. And if she didn’t want to have to constantly change it up, don’t. And f*** everyone else’s opinion. They don’t make me.

    • Ana says:

      This seems unnecessarily confrontational. I do wish I could just wear the same thing everyday to work, but understand that others may actually enjoy choosing outfits. Different strokes.

  2. Erin says:

    I take issue with the notion that men can wear suits and repeat outfits but somehow women can’t. If you don’t think you can repeat an outfit or have to wait a set amount of time before repeating, that’s on you.

    My work uniform for the past decade has always been, and will always be, black suits and white or ivory shirts/blouses. I wear pearl studs or diamond studs, but also sometimes gold huggies. I like to keep it simple and nondescript. If I’m feeling playful, I’ll wear a shoe with a color or pattern. Otherwise, simple black flats. I also keep a cardigan on my chair for solo office time but I never go to a meeting (much less roam the halls) without a suit jacket on. No one has ever questioned my judgment about my attire and as a result I have never struggled to convey professionalism. Further, I can assure you that nobody remembers what I wore yesterday and I mean that in the best possible way because stand out outfits in an office tend to be inappropriate. All my colleagues seem to think/know is that black and white is my uniform. This way of dressing is so easy and anyone can do it.

  3. A says:

    Couple of things come to mind to me – as long as your clothes are within the realm of customary for your office, it’s OK to be you. Be conservative and get the lay of the land when you start, but then feel free to have some expression. So wait to outfit your work wardrobe until you’ve been there a few weeks.

    If you like clothes, develop a style. In my head I think I must always wear SO SERIOUS clothes, and I’m much happier in colors and outfits that have a hint of fun. Now that I’ve been here 7 years, I’m known for wearing colorful clothes – the week before vacation I wore all black (since I knew those clothes wouldn’t be traveling with me) and didn’t think anything of it until several different people asked me if everything was OK (e.g., did someone die). So people notice.

    Also – you do not have to wear high heels. I have not worn heels in 5+ years and not one person has remarked on it or glanced askance at my shoes. I regret the first very painful 2 years of my career where my feet, knees and back hurt every single day no matter how “comfy” the heel.

    Finally – machine washable suiting exists today, commonly. Check it out. It didn’t when I started. If it had, I might have worn more suits.

    • Belle says:

      Amen, you do not have to wear high heels. I gave up all of the heels that hurt my feet, and it’s a game changer. I have a couple of pairs of heels that I find comfortable, and a lot of flats.

      • tr says:

        This is next level sexist and judgmental- as though female bodies are a shameful “problem” or “distraction” in the workplace. Based on her comment, she seems like someone who would blame assault on what clothes a woman was wearing.

        Her advice almost feels like a holdover from the messed-up office dynamics of the 1950s. Imposing such strict guidelines and standards can also make women, diverse or first-generation professionals feel out of place- it builds on a mentality that only certain people “belong” or are welcome in a profession. Imposter syndrome is real, and if lady lawyer were my mentor or colleague, she would likely make me feel out of place almost instantly. Diversity is good and it doesn’t mean we have to hide what us women (this is insane: “Your breasts should just happen to be on your body…not as stars an awkward gaze avoidance exercise) or conform to standards established by men. I mean, advice for dressing professionally shouldn’t start with the idea that women are naturally inclined to wear a bikini to work.

  4. MOnica T says:

    Be yourself, and find a way to be yourself in how you dress. I’m more likely to come off as my best self when I’m comfortable, and I’m comfortable when I look how I like to look. I know this sounds like self-fulfilling fluff, and admittedly I work in Tech in Southern California where I hardly have to try to ‘fit in’ to succeed, but I think there must be a way to add a little bit of ‘you’ in to any dress code. I wouldn’t want to work anywhere that didn’t value originality and authenticity.

  5. Erica says:

    Don’t neglect your shoe selection. A huge pet peeve of mine is when a woman is dressed professionally, and she’s wearing a pair of shoes that are torn apart and in dire need of repairs or replacement. One option that has helped me is investing in nicer pairs of plain work shoes (i.e., black or nude-to-you pumps or classic flats or loafers…whatever you like, and as your career continues you can collect more basic variety). Only wear these shoes at work. If you want another pair of the same shoes for being social (bars, weddings, brunch/dinners out, etc), keep a separate pair for non-work purposes.

    I’m sure not everyone needs the specific-purpose shoe categories, but I find that it keeps my nice black pumps and professional flats from getting worn to death. A good cobbler is also a helpful way to improve/increase the lifespan of shoes regardless of how you manage, but know when it’s time for a replacement.

  6. Cait says:

    I wish someone had outlined the difference between nice clothes, formal suits, and daily work clothes. My parents didn’t have jobs that required them to wear traditional business clothing, so they didn’t really know how to help me figure out what to wear to interviews and internships. I knew that wearing dresses with blazers was ok, so I assumed that every dress in my closet was fine to wear to work as long as I put the black blazer from my interview suit over it. This was obviously not a good look, but I didn’t understand the nuances of clothing style and fabric choice.

    Specific things I wish someone had told me:
    1) Thin, flowy, translucent polyester fabric is not good for work.
    2) If you have to wear a blazer every day, you need more than one blazer.
    3) Always check your outfit from the back and under fluorescent lights.
    4) Do not wear open-toed shoes until you have seen many other women do so in the office, and maybe not even then.
    5) Err on the side of looser skirts and pants that you would wear otherwise (I understand that this advice varies, but I definitely needed to be told this).
    6) You do not have to spend 2 hours on your hair every morning.

    • Jules says:

      Totally agree on the difference between “nice” clothes and “nice work clothes” Sometimes I see people in the office dressed “nice,” but it looks very much Church On Sunday, and not business, and just a bit off for the workplace, even though yes, technically, it is “nice.”

      I also agree with the commenter about the shoes. They don’t have to be expensive, but they do need to fit the overall professional look.

      I would also add personal hygine/styling into the mix. Sometimes I see people dressed very professionally but their hair is a sloppy mess, and the impression I leave with is more about that, than their professional clothes. Probably because I look at a person’s face more than their body/outfit.

      The biggest question I had when starting to build a professional wardrobe was WHERE to shop! and HOW to shop, so that I didn’t have to spend money I didn’t have, but still had enough options to last me a few weeks.

      • MOnica T says:

        As a person with curly, wavy, and generally unruly hair, “personal hygiene” is a touchy subject. In high school other girls often ridiculed me for having “unhealthy” hair because it wasn’t straight and sleek like theirs. Just because I don’t want to heat or chemically treat my hair in to submission doesn’t make it unprofessional, I wear it short in front and whether it’s curly, wavy or kind of flat that day depending on the weather it’s always clean and it makes me kind of sad that people might be judging me based on my hairs natural appearance, which I know can seem kind of wild and maybe a bit sloppy compared to straight styles.

        • Belle says:

          This is something that readers have really changed my opinion about. I used to hate when interns showed up with damp hair in the morning. Then, I learned how hard it is to care for curly hair and seemed wrong to force someone to put in a lot more work so they could live up to a fairly arbitrary standard of professionalism.

  7. Meg says:

    before you buy a dress/top, make sure you sit down in it. I have big boobs and I learned the hard way that just because a dress looks fine when I’m standing up doesn’t mean it’ll look ok sitting down. My old roommate and I once bought the exact same dress (different sizes). She wore it to teach pre-school, I wore it once to work and when I sat down at my desk it was boob city lol

    • Laura says:

      YES! To this! Don’t just put your clothes on in the dressing room, say yup, and then take them off! I have wasted a surprising amount on shirts that seemed fine until I sat down or stretched, panted that punch when sitting, shoes that I hated after the 2nd walk to the bathroom, etc. Don’t be like me who had to hide in her office one day last month when she realized her new shirt did not like to stay buttoned….

      Move around a bit in the dressing room (sit down, stand up, pick something up off the ground, etc.) and see how things move with you.

      • Wellfedfred says:

        Everyone’s desk should contain a small emergency kit, to take care of things that are an emergency to you. Keep it in a closed legal-size envelope or small fedex box. Refill regularly. Mine always had – tissues, tampons, comb, emery board, safety pins, at least one of the tiny sewing kits you get in hotel rooms, advil, sudafed. Next door had extra contact solution and undereye concealer. We both had wipes and eyeglass repair thingies. I once kept watch on her door while she sewed her v.professional white shirt together with that needle and thread, her buttons weren’t doing their job. A few small bills and some change isn’t a bad idea either.

  8. Denise says:

    I think it takes a while to develop a style at work. But once you do, people sort of become accustomed to it and it helps with your personal ‘brand’.

    I’m a dress person. Primarily b/c my weight fluctuates with my training schedule (I live in a run 8 months of the year / hibernate in a/c for the summer climate) and pants are uncomfortable when tight and look sloppy loose. So I wear dresses, most of the time with a sweater, and heels. If I wear slacks now 2 days in a row, people comment 😉

    Alternately my coworker is a blazer + slacks girl. She has a fantastic selection of blazers and always looks so put together! It is basically part of her brand.

    The highest ranking woman in my company wears tweed jackets all the time. she looks impossibly chic. I bought one, tried it…and it didn’t work for me. I can’t pull it off, as its not my aesthetic.

    I think its a great time to be a woman dressing for the office because there are now so many options! I’ve been punching up my wardrobe with some nice out of my price range rentals and have been having a ball this past year 🙂

  9. aar1 says:

    From a legal recruiting perspective: On the whole, just avoid standing out for your clothing either way. If your suit color, neckline, hairstyle can be a topic of conversation when you leave a room, that’s not good. Avoid making a bold fashion statement, and instead allow your character and qualifications be the focus. Once you’ve been in an environment long enough, I think you can loosen up and express yourself through style. But I don’t need to see a hot pink suit in an interview: to me, it’s easy to find a plain black suit, and it shows poor judgment to forego that sort of option.

  10. Jenny says:

    It feels expensive at the time, but I think it’s ultimately cheaper to buy a few whole outfits when you’re starting out — a few tops, skirts, trousers and jackets that can be used in different combinations and that you know work well together. It’s a lesson I learned early that I’ve sort of forgotten with time, and now I’m getting back to it. Otherwise you end up picking up a skirt here, a blouse here, and then you realize you don’t actually have the other pieces you would need to make them work in your wardrobe.

    • Belle says:

      Agreed. I bought one-offs for a long time and then struggled to make outfits. Once I realized I needed more neutrals and basics, getting dressed became easier.

  11. LadY LawYER says:

    For my fellow lady lawyers, present a tailored conservative look.

    Get your clothes tailored.
    Get your clothes tailored.
    Get your clothes tailored.

    You do not need to shroud yourself in an abaya. However, work backwards from that abaya until you hit the power dress with sleeves, skirts past the knees paired with long sleeved sweaters that are not body hugging. We are still fighting to literally be recognized as lawyers. You do not need to do the equivalent of a three piece suit. Jackets can be overkill in business casual contexts. But you need to aim for smart modesty.

    In a professional setting, emulate the skin coverage of a pants suit. In contexts where men wear pants and a polo, aim for that level of skin coverage.

    Fashion generally gives us a lot of sexy options and those that put large bows on us, as if we are a gift to our presumed heteronormative male gaze audience. So forget about fashion, you should establish a uniform of well tailored clothing and foundation garments that strike a balance between frumpy and funeral attire.

    Please no: too short skirts, cleavage, breasts uncovered under jackets, too tight pants, more skin than what a man would reveal in pants and a polo or pants and a dress shirt, any clothing that hugs, bras and undergarments that do not properly support your body. Do not compromise the integrity of women in our profession for perceived and actual short term gains earned by “accidentally” dressing too sexy at work, for court, when interacting with clients. You should never look like you forgot to wear your pants.

    Be aware that “accidental sexy dress” does in fact advance careers for young women lawyers in Washington, DC. Some firms will send you home to change if you wear Capri pants, but a lot of legal work contexts have a smarmy side to them. Please do not be that woman attorney who routinely appears to have forgotten to wear pants. Please.

    Invest in quality foundation garments, including good bras that support your breasts but also masque changes in your nipples. You can afford them, but you may have to go with Sears or JC Zoenney instead of Nordstrom or (DC shout out!) Coup de Foudre.

    Professional power dresses are pretty common. But they work when properly tailored and when the wearer uses foundation garments. You do not have to wear a jacket, but you do have to wear quality clothing.

    Also think about your place in the hierarchy. When you start out, drab neutrals and jackets may be your uniform. Early in your career, people should focus on the great work that you do and your good judgment, not your self presentation. At 7-10 years in your career and better, the same work context, you can show more flair and be more creative. Life is not fair. Be fashionable and cute on your own time, not at work.

    Please cover your breasts. For some of us, that involves different choices. Cover the tops, bottoms, sides, the cleavage, the nipples. Your breasts should just happen to be on your body in a well tailored or well draped garment, not as stars an awkward gaze avoidance exercise.

    Also please cover your butt. Some have larger, more bubbly, more jiggly butts. Do your best. People recognize the difference between a woman with a large butt in a draped and butt darted dress versus a woman whose butt is hanging out of her skirt or whose skirted suit look is more “In the club” than “leading voir dire.”

    No nightclub shoes. No nightclub shoes. No nightclub shoes.

    Clothes adjacent: Get a haircut. The long curtains of hair read college freshman, not lady lawyer. Yes, exceptions exist, but go get a great professional haircut.

    No glitter eyeshadow. No smoky eyes. Go get professional makeup done. Emphasize the “no makeup” look turned up a notch. At a minimum, learn how to fill your brows, do basic professional eye makeup (again, not “in the club”), get some tinted moisturizer and/or foundation, some cheek color, some lip color. Again, life is not fair. But women who self present with minimal professional makeup do better in their careers.

    Settle down with the jewelry and the accessories.

    • Jessica C says:

      I find this advice overly regimented, off-putting, and felt as though I was getting a stern lecture from the nuns at my catholic high school.

    • ALSO A LADY LAWYER says:

      As a successful lady lawyer myself (who works with many other successful lady lawyers, in DC, who are far more fashionable than frumpy), I disagree with so much of this that I don’t even know where to start.

    • Sam says:

      All I have to say about this “advice” is yikes. I truly hope you do not tell women to their faces that “their butts are too jiggly” and need to be dressed a specific way because of that.

      This reeks of classism, body shaming, and guilt trips based on internalized sexism and misogyny.

    • LA says:

      This is…. a lot, and comes off as more than a bit sexist, body-shamey and judgmental. I agree that good foundational garments go a long way in making your clothes look good. But, “skin coverage of a pants suit”? So women shouldn’t wear skirts or dresses…?

      And as an aside, one of the biggest challenges that professional women face in dressing themselves is that there is a dearth of affordable, appropriate clothing to begin with! I can’t tell you how many suits I have ordered and returned trying to find something that isn’t cheap, ill-fitting or too trendy or how many dresses advertised as “wear to work” are too short, too sheer, or too low cut. PS – what happened to trouser pants??? I can’t wear a cropped culotte to court.

    • JD says:

      Lady lawyer really needs to get over herself and sounds oddly jealous of women who have a sense of style at work that doesn’t range from frumpy to funeral. Sorry, I have long hair, often wear colorful sheath dresses and shoes and do not feel the need to apologize for my female body by wearing the equivalent of a gray sack everyday.

    • Maddy says:

      This is gross. I feel sorry for the young attorneys you mentor who have to deal with such day-to-day judgment.

    • Amy says:

      I find the way this advice is presented to be both off-putting and problematic. A large part of why we are still having to have these conversations in the first place is that we are still dealing with a society that tends to infantilize women. Comments like this that seem to speak to new lawyers in the same tone you would use address a naughty toddler, rather than providing helpful tips to fellow adults, become part of the problem.

      The GOOD advice on this thread has been along the lines of “here’s my work uniform and this is why it works for me,” or “here’s what I suggest you invest in.”

      • No HR says:

        Agreed that the example of a work uniform can be helpful. However, it seems that the cost of quality work uniforms and their perceived scarcity can be a barrier. Also, some legal work contexts lack Human Resources departments, which would usually establish dress code guidelines. If women were not socialized to sexualize their dress and if they were not rewarded for doing so, we may have fewer of these catch-22 situations. We do seem to have distinctions here between “oops, did not realize thus blouse would gale open,” and “wearing a bandeau top under a suit jacket is my fashionable self-expression.”

    • Erica says:

      After reading what I am sure is well-intentioned advice from Lawyer Lady, I am even more thankful for the non-judgmental, constructive mentoring I have received this early in my profession as an attorney from the diverse, thoughtful, intelligent female leaders in my office.

    • KSS says:

      Jesus Christ, Lady Lawyer. Young women are going to have breasts and butts that are more beautiful than yours. As you are so fond of saying, life is not fair. It’s out of your control. Sit down.

      Now. New lawyers: take your first paycheck, and, if you can, go to M.M. LaFleur. And Theory (there are outlets!) Ask the salespeople for help. You almost can’t go wrong. I was a scholarship kid without a clue, this is what I did, and it all turned out fine.

      Also: what the hell is a “foundation garment”?

  12. SC says:

    I am not a lawyer (I’m an assistant), but my advice would be to dress in something that makes people remember you for your eloquence, not what you were wearing. There’s an attorney from another firm whom we refer to as “the one with the eyeliner” because she slathers it on so heavily. Don’t be that person.

    And also, pay attention to the way clothes fit — if your pants barely button, they’re not okay for work. (No shame, I have “winter pants” and “summer pants.” Guess which ones are the bigger size.)

  13. Kelly says:

    I love that your law school invites you back to talk clothing. Hearing advice about what to wear to work from someone who actually has to dress for work is really what makes these events work.

    I was in a super formal workplace for 6 years. I went through about 3 separate rotations worth of clothes and went from literally keeping an Excel doc logging my outfits to rotating pretty much the same 5 outfits every week. Advice I’d give my younger self:
    1) Pencil skirts with stretch will change your life.
    2) MM LaFleur and Rothy’s are worth it. Go immediately.
    3) Don’t confuse professional clothes and professional behavior (and vice versa!). One looks nice or at least abides by the dress code. The other is actually nice and is the more important one.

  14. Allison says:

    Does your law school invite a man to talk about wardrobe too? Just curious. Women have more options, which means more ways we can flub it, but some of the young men in my office really need some guidance. The skinny suit thing has gotten way out of control, their suits are so tight it makes me uncomfortable!

    • RR says:


    • Belle says:

      The career center counselor who hosts the event is a man, and a lawyer, so we work on it together. And I did mention that, because it is a problem here also. Like, guys, suit pants are not Speedos.

    • Denise says:

      I am so bothered by the short pants / invisible socks trend in men’s suiting. It seems to afflict the majority of my European counterparts. I’m all….did he intend for them to be that short? Are they crops or did he tailor them that way? where are the socks???? Its confusing!

  15. Mariah says:

    Is Belle a speaker on a “Dress for Success” that is only aimed at women?

  16. Opal says:

    Comfortable undergarments. I buy my bras from target, so they aren’t super expensive. They do give me good support that allows clothing to look sleek. I’ve switched to more dresses and skirts over the past years. Yoga shorts are my go-to. No chaffing and if my skirt flips up due to a breeze I’m not exposed to the world.

    A shoe buffer to keep my shoes looking fresher was a good investment. A little shoe oil, a quick buff, and off I go.

  17. Stephanie says:

    I wish someone told me how critical it is that clothing fit well. A cheap blouse and skirt from Target can fit perfectly and look amazing. An expensive but ill fitted outfit doesn’t serve you well. It’s not about what you spend, but how it fits.

  18. Melanie says:

    O My advice is to have a back up outft at the office. I have black knit faux wrap with a slight a-line skirt and black tights in a drawer. The dress is flattering, comfortable and neutral. I found it at the loft on super sale so I don’t feel bad that it lives at my desk, just in case. And at some point you or a colleague will need it. For me it was a zipper that broke mid-day and for my colleague it was her boss coming to the office unexpectedly in the middle of a recess week (stretch is key for fitting lots of body types).

    This also applies to men. Many of my colleagues have a tie, shirt and jacket hanging on the back of the door or in a packing cube in a desk drawer.

    Also, keep a desk emergency kit- tide pen, safety pins, small sewing kit, nail file and fashion tape. This is this as your McGyver tool kit for looking pulled together.

  19. Tisha says:

    People may tell you that you look young. Appreciate that while you can, lawyer forehead comes for all of us. Some of you may already have gray hair. In the meantime, try to establish a professional clothing strategy and/or uniform that works for multiple contexts. You may want to get one or several professional bags. Secondhand and consignment websites can be budget friendly resources for staples, fashion pieces, and rounding out your wardrobe.

  20. Anon says:

    I should start by saying that I am Europe-based, so the norms mayb be a little different. Novertheless, much of the advice here chimes completely with my working experience. I would like to add a few observations:

    First, find what is both comfortable for you as an individual, both physically and style-wise, but is consistent with the profession and office in which you are working. It’s not that I think there is one uniform – there are many ways of fitting in without vanishing – but I do want people to be listening to me, not my clothes. And I like to put them on in the morning and not have to think too much about them for the rest of the day. Things that ride up, slide around, etc are a distraction from what I want to concentrate on.

    Secondly, people DO notice. I still vividly remember a young woman we interviwed who was remembered in our review of (many) candidates as “the Ascot frock”, because what she wore, while perfectly presentable, was rather more suitable for a fachionale race meeting than an office. She still got one of the posts – she was good, she was young, and we reckoned that (a) it may have been something she already had that was smarter than her student clothes and (b) she would figure out the dress code pretty quickly. (She did. But there may be offices that wouldn’t give the benefit of the doubt.)

    Thirdly, I worked in an international representational role, so there was quite some variation in dress styles. But my observation, confirmed by a conversation with a senior male manager friend, was that (in my field) whereas for a meeting away from base lasting more than 2 days men could get away with one suit and a variety of shirts and ties, if a woman did that, it would be noticed negatively. (N.B. this is not about the style of the garments themselves – unless they are out of character). Yes, it is wrong and yes, it would be good to change that; but until you are in a senior enough position that people will listen to you anyway, you have somehow to compromise.

    And finally, a practical tip passed on to me by a female colleague. Keep a few tumble dryer sheets in your emergency kit: if you get static issues (synthetic carpets and fabrics – such as skirt linings – and dry air causing clinging/riding up), they can be reduced by rubbing the dryer sheet over the inside of your skirt/lining and your pantyhose/stockings if wearing them.

  21. Venessa says:

    Waiting for the hate comments. If cosmetic enhancements have helped you, please share examples of what you have had done.

    When I started as an attorney, two much older women attorneys mentored me that cosmetic surgery, cosmetic dentistry, and weight loss were career advancers. A peer woman attorney allotted time and money for laser hair removal. A senior male attorney got hair plugs. Our recently appointed male managing partner got lasik/equivalent eye surgery and a mini-facelift in the years leading up to assuming the leadership role.

    In the Washington, DC market, smaller breast enhancements have been popular. Women go up a half cup or one cup. The older women and men in my field are extending their careers/making their own choices with facelifts, Botox, and tummy tucks.

    A dear friend woman attorney is confident that her nose and chin job, breast implants, and veneers made her more popular with partners early in her career and now with clients.

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The Edition: No. 374

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