2016 Update: We still stand by the advice in this older post on what to wear for a month in court, but you may also be interested in our recent discussion on whether women lawyers can wear interesting suits to court.
Today’s reader mail comes from a reader who will be second-chairing a federal trial that is expected to last for more than a month…
First, do you think I should wear skirt suits every day or can I wear pant suits and save the skirt suits for days that I may actually get to examine a witness?
Second, how many suits do you think I need to keep on hand so that it doesn’t look like I am wearing the same suits over and over again? Any suggestions for making the same suit look different other than wearing different accessories?
And finally, any suggestions on where to find nice looking suits in petite sizes without spending an arm and a leg since I will not need that many suits after the trial is finished.
A good friend of ours did mock trial in law school (and did very well), and passed along her (esteemed) coach’s advice: wear skirt suits and be sure to cross/uncross your legs often if the other side is making a good point, and wear a lot of perfume. See? Golden advice. Whoever says sexism is alive and well is just crazy.
In all seriousness, though, wardrobe during trial is one of those times where the guys really do have it easier, because we guarantee you that they’ll wear, at max, three suits and five ties throughout the entire trial and not give a second thought to it. For you, though, we recommend sticking to dark suits, which, practically speaking, means we’d limit ourselves to three or four suits. One black, one navy, and maybe one in brown or gray. (If you’re prickly about your accessories matching, go with all black accessories and choose the gray suit.) Where possible, we’d get both the skirt and the pants to the set — J.Crew, Banana, Ann Taylor, or Theory all make separates (and, we think, petites). (For the petites question, we’ll be lazy here and link to our old post on professional dressing for petites for reference, as well as the blogs Petite Asian Girl ExtraPetite and Alterations Needed, both of which we have recently discovered and been meaning to point readers towards.)