QI’m a 2L. Everything is fine. I get my work done, pull in decent grades, have friends, maintain a relatively sane life. But I have no fashion sense. Honestly, I’m from rural Oklahoma, grew up on a farm, and went to school at Oklahoma State University. I did well enough there to land a plum spot at a good law school. I’m also about to start a summer clerkship at a large New York firm.
I’m also cheap, primarily because I have little extra money to spend on things other than school, and living in a city that’s way too expensive. I have two navy blue suits, one black, and plenty of blouses. I’ll get another suit. The workday I don’t worry about too much. I can figure that out. I worry more about the parties, informal lunches, outings that the firm will sponsor over summer. Any advice?
AI’m not a fashion maven, so take this advice with a grain of salt. But there are some dos and don’ts:
- Don’t try to compete with any other summer associates, either in what you wear or what you know. They will win, the partners and other associates will notice, and you will look stupid, a copycat, and will be out a lot of money. For example, one day you show up with an expensive Louis Vuiton handbag you wasted a week’s pay on. She’ll show up that same day carrying a Birkin bag through the halls. She’ll not only resent the competition but will pity you and ultimately put you in your place. Don’t give her that satisfaction.
- Be yourself. Not that you should wear overalls and chew on a sprig of wheat, but don’t dress beyond what you (a) can afford; and (b) are comfortable in. otherwise, partners and other associates will just think of you as that hayseed who thinks she’s bigger than her britches.
- No pantyhose/peep toe combos.
- Go to a conservative mainstream clothier like Brooks Brothers or Ann Taylor and spill the beans. Honestly. The clerks there may see you as potential future business. They also like to help. Usually. But if you get a fuckwad tightass clerk, just walk away and go somewhere else. It’s not worth it.
- Don’t go on a spending spree at some high-end store, even if you can. Be modest, purchase one outfit, and learn from sales clerks what is appropriate. Then find it later online or at outlet malls, if you can. But not the Gap. And don’t buy everything before you start. Buy a few things, check out what people wear at the office, then budget some additions over the summer.
- Don’t wear heeled gladiators. Ever. Just has to be said.
Finally, check out BL1Y’s post Attention Idiot Lawyer’s: Business Casual Explained. He nailed the notion of business casual vs. dressy casual. Hell, I don’t mind sending you over to Corporette even. They know a bit more about women’s professional dress than this hayseed farm boy from central Illinois (but who is now very well dressed, thank you).