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Can You Wear Interesting Suits to Court?

Can Lawyers Wear Interesting Suits to Court?Can you wear “interesting” suits to court — colorful, patterned, fanciful, haute? (You know, kind of like in our weekly Suit of the Week feature?) Reader E asks — specifically wondering about this teal LK Bennett suit that Kate Middleton is wearing here and here — and I think it’s a great question for all the women lawyers:

This is a lawyer-specific question – can you wear interesting suits to court if it’s still a suit? I agree with previous suggestions here that a dress/blazer combo, unless its meant to be a suit, is not formal enough for court. But, my question is, what about things that are true suit sets but are more interesting – like an AT tweed suit, or the LK Bennett dark teal dress and jacket suit set that Kate Mid. has? Or do you think court suits have to be black/grey/navy and totally plain? Thx!

I can’t wait to hear what the readers say here.  For my $.02, I always think of my reaction to an article years ago about a young public defender who wore Balmain (at the time, their blazers had super pointy shoulders) and other couture suits to court.  The impression it left on me was a bad one — it seemed like she was not showing any respect for her clients or the fact that she was there to represent THEM, in life-altering matters, before stodgy judges and juries who may or may not have approved of her fashion choices (or her designer budget). Plus, as readers have pointed out in the past, wearing ostensibly designer, moneyed things in front of juries can be a bad move, particularly if you’re a public defender.

NOW: A crazy/trendy Balmain suit is one thing — a dark teal LK Bennett dress and jacket is another.  But where is the line? And are there different rules for “first appearance before the court” and “day 30 of a 6-month trial”? For my $.02:

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Introducing: The Corporette Guide to Women’s Suits

interview attire for womenNov. 2016 Update: We just updated our Guide to Suits

Our new “Guide to Women’s Suits” is now up! What are the best tips you have for basic women’s suiting? What brands are your favorite? What is your ideal interview attire — or what would you recommend as the ideal courtroom attire for women lawyers? Skirt suit or pantsuit? Black, gray, or navy? C’mon over and weigh in.

(As with our other guides, please note that any off-topic comments will be deleted. Instead, feel free to leave off-topic comments here, on this post.)

What to Wear for a Month in Court

What to Wear for a Month in Court2016 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.)

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