10 Signs You Are Dressed Unprofessionally

Doug Stephan Bitter by Numbers, Lawyer 11 Comments


There is an epidemic in the legal community. Maybe it is because of the economy. Maybe it is because the lackluster hiring rate for new lawyers. Maybe it is because standards of dress are falling everywhere as a result of Jersey Shore. However, we are in the Trust Tree so lets get this out in the open. The legal community is committing malpractice . . . of fashion. This might be considered mean to some of you. That means you dress inappropriately.  Thus, without further adieu, Bitter Lawyer presents: 10 Signs You Are Dressed Unprofessionally.

    1. Schmedium Button-Ups. Fortunately, I think we all agree this is not professional attire. But, with the recent rash of schmedium button up shirts being worn by the fellas we thought we should reiterate. It is never good when I am worrying that the overly stressed button on your shirt is going to explode and take out an eyeball. Justice might be blind but the cause of said blindness shouldn’t be your beer belly.
    2. If your court-appointed client is wearing the same clothing as you. Alarm bells should be going off.
    3. If your skirt is closer to your ass than your knees. Great for the bar, but not when you are a member of the Bar.
    4. White socks. Unless you are Michael Jackson, at no point in time in your career should you be wearing white socks during a professional appearance. Never. Ever. Like Taylor Swift Never Ever Wever.
    5. Gentlemen, if your suit looks like a Shar Pei you need to fix that. Immediately.  And please do not wear your jacket in the car on the way to court. Just because the front of the suit is wrinkle free the back looks like the lunch money of a 4th grader. You basically turned your suit into a mullet. Business in the front and party in the back. But instead of a party it looks like shit. Don’t look like shit.
    6. Anything made at the airbrushing kiosk in the mall. You would think this wouldn’t be necessary . . . you would be wrong.
    7. Crocs. Unless you are a ginger Italian chef you should never wear Crocs.


  1. Anything with writing on the ass. Okay, granted if you wear anything with “Juicy” or “Sexy” on your ass to court you should be disbarred, but this can be expanded. Any pants that got in a fight with a Bedazzler should probably be kept in the closet . . . forever.
  2. Flip-Flops. You are not at the beach. You are not on vacation. Unless you are wearing these Jeans Sandal Boots then don’t step into the office. And yes the Jeans Sandal Boots are real and they’re spectacular.
  3. Finally, ladies, leggings aren’t pants. I’m sorry but it’s true. And, more importantly, wearing a longish sweater still does not instantly make leggings pants.

Simply put: You are dressed unprofessionally if you make me want to take out my iPhone to take a picture of you and post it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus+, or Friendster. Hell, J.T. is bringing Myspace back so I’ll fire that account up for the first time in five years. Whatever, just don’t let it happen to you. And if after all this, you still don’t know what to wear…just give up and buy yourself a suitsy.


The Suitsy: brought to you by Jesse Herzog and Betabrand

Bitter Lawyer is ready to take charge in this epidemic. Enough is enough and its time for a change . . . of clothing.

Post image via Shutterstock.

Originally Posted:  Nov 30, 2012

Share this Post

  • Mean Partner

    Mean Partner’s advice: a suit for clients; once clients pass the 6 month mark, wear whatever you want for them.

    In the car: Never wear your jacket or sip coffee on the way to a hearing or meeting; if you MUST wear a tie in the car, flip it over your shoulder so the seat belt won’t rub the front of it to frizziness, and you won’t spill the coffee I told you not to sip on it; (better still: put your tie on when you are out of the car).

    Polish your shoes: old ones undermine the best suit; keep keys etc out of your suit-they ruin it. When entering court. stick keys, watch etc into a compartment of a briefcase to speed thru the metal detector and avoid theft.

    Keep a spare dress shirt in the car.

    Don’t put cuffs on your pants: you look silly.

    When driving more than an hour to meeting, wear an old shirt and change in the garage (your shirt will look new).

    Wear cuff links to important meetings: it’ll set you apart.

    But some good shirts for meetings and court. You won’t regret it.

  • Seriously

    Women: you suit skirt should not hug you bottom. At all. Ever.

    For court:

    1. Wear pantyhose to court under skirt suits and wear stocking stocks under pant suits.

    2. Shoes should be sensible and professional. No more than 3 inches high. Never flashy. NEVER open/peep toe. Avoid trendy imbleshiments and select classic shapes. As a gerneral rule, if you think you look hot in your court shoes, they are not professional.

    3. If long, hair should be in a low bun or ponytail.

    4. You have lots of color options for suits: dark grey, navy or black. You have one color option for your shirt: white (crisp and clean).

    5. Jewelry options: pearls or small professional stud earrings.

    The LA superior court needs someone to pass out pamphlets on how to dress for court. It is tragic. The good news is court attire is not complicated. It is a relatively simple uniform to assemble. And, fairly comfortable. How do people expect to be taken seriously or even be given the benefit of the doubt when they throw on dirty, wrinkled clothes, stripper heels and/or ill-fitted, cheap clothing? Makes it so much easier for the rest of us to look credible.

  • Chipfaced

    Ugh. The only problem with this article is that now I want Jean Sandal Boots and they are sold out! *sigh*

  • Jerry

    Women’s clothes should be professional but women should not be afraid to show their legs and thighs to men. Also a little cleavage is always a good thing.

  • LD

    Misogyny in a post all about clothing, written by a man–why am I not surprised? If you’re unable to edit yourself, at least be equal-opportunity about it, you’ve said (and shown) far more nasty things specifically about women here than men. Just because you’re not staring at their butts all day doesn’t mean that men are less clothing-faux pas prone than women.

    • DMC

      I’m with you, LD. #2 is particularly offensive. The author’s elitist attitude is unfashionable and tasteless, as he degrades women and low-income people with shallow mass stereotypes. I am sorry for his court-appointed clients, who are hopefully unaware of their dignity and attire being categorically mocked on their lawyer’s public blog. These “poor” clients don’t need fancier suits. They need a lawyer with more class.

  • Anne Catherine Harvey

    Lovely. The legal profession is overcrowded, anti-intellectual, scandal ridden and hated by the public. A dress code is the least of our worries.

  • Jen Johnson

    Stripper shoes. At no time should your shoes include clear anything or a visible platform.

  • Ginger Walker Hamilton

    I disagree about Crocs. Some of them are really nice. Just don’t wear the huge clunky original Crocs. [ I did wear them to court when I had a broken toe though. It was the only thing that would fit over the bandages and it was cold.]

  • Haley

    I disagree about the leggings. You can make leggings professional as long as they’re black or gray and you pair them with a longer sweater or button up shirt with professional looking shoes and accessories.