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LIV President's Blog 2012

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The art of first impressions: Dress to Impress

The art of first impressions: Dress to Impress

The resurgence of legal television drama shows has given rise to the stereotype of the well-dressed, fashion-conscious modern lawyer. However, the reality is that we are all busy people and don’t have a wardrobe team to pick out our daily attire.

That being said, first impressions are everything and your daily get up can sometimes influence the way that a client initially perceives you and your firm.

It can be difficult to find the time to work out how to dress in the legal office or even in Court. Thankfully, the LIV Young Lawyers Section is here to help with a few tips to get you started.


Daily Attire & Accessories for the office

  • Invest in a few bespoke suits that fit you well and make friends with a tailor. To ensure that your suit lasts the distance make sure that it’s composition is primarily wool - The temptation to buy the cheaper suit can be hard to fight, but at the end of the day those dollars saved won’t preserve your appearance if the suit doesn’t fit properly or falls apart within a year.
  • Buy two pairs of suit pants so that you get ample use out of your suit jacket. Remember, that the jacket will always last longer than the pants! As an alternative, women could purchase the pants and skirt/ suit dress to the matching jacket.  
  • Invest in some good quality shirts in basic colours – black, white and navy for e.g. These will match with almost any suit.
  • It is often said that you should “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” A better idea is to dress as you want to be perceived by others – treat your attire as a window into your personality.
  • Keep it simple. Use colours that complement each other, either by contrasting them (e.g. white shirt, red tie) or by using similar colours (e.g. light blue shirt, dark blue tie).
  • Always ensure that your belt and shoe colour matches.
  • Avoid gimmicky cufflinks. If your cufflinks relate to or are about a movie, they’re unacceptable. Even if they make you feel like Batman in the office.
  • Scarfs are a great way for women to jazz up a plain suit and can be relatively inexpensive. There are plenty of examples on the internet of different ways to tie a scarf. Here are some to start you off. If you do plan to accessorise with scarfs then invest in some plain round neck cotton tops to wear under your suit.

Going to Court

  • Dress conservatively and always wear a suit to Court. Try to opt for darker colours or shades, such as charcoal or navy.
  • Reserve cardigans for the office, don’t wear them to Court unless you plan on wearing a suit jacket on top.
  • Keep a plain black suit jacket in your office for emergency client meetings and Court appearances. This will come in extremely handy!

Do you have any fashion words of wisdom for lawyers entering the profession?

Written by the Young Lawyers Section Professional Development Committee. 

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I agree we are part of an institution. We should look professional. We can look smart in something other than a suit with stripes. I go for the casual feel, not so much the look. Having said that, I think the cleavage showing is awful, and to me shows something other than professional. I won't say what it tells me.
22/10/2013 8:24:45 PM

LIV Young Lawyers
Hi everyone, Thank you for your comments. The tips in the blog are non-exhaustive and are intended as a starting point to assist young lawyers in striking a balance between professionalism and personal style.
We welcome any further tips to assist our young lawyers.
9/10/2013 3:02:39 PM

Because, Judith, court is not about your "personal style". You are not an individual in court. You are part of an institution, representing a client.
Just as the judge or a barrister wears robes when I'm sure they would never say that that is their "personal style" of dress outside court, the same applies to junior lawyers in the lower courts. Wear the dark suit and be a part of the institution of the justice system. This isn't debate club, it's not about you.
4/10/2013 5:58:45 PM

Cam Forbes
My favourite fashion item at the moment is the pocket square - looks smart and can really compliment a suit and tie!
4/10/2013 5:52:47 PM

Dezi George
Yes, don't forget to smile.
4/10/2013 2:47:43 PM

I’m sure this post is well intentioned but as a young lawyer I find it worrying. I would argue that it is possible to have pride in your appearance and to look neat and professional without sacrificing your personal style. Why should we feel obliged to fill the cookie-cutter mold by dressing exclusively in black, navy or charcoal suits?
4/10/2013 12:32:56 PM

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