Whether you are going to your first interview or starting your new job, it is important to get your appearance right. In this day and age, and especially in law, your appearance can say a lot about you and lead people to form opinions about your work ethics and ability. After all, if you can’t dress right then how can you be trusted to do your work right?
Here at Ambipro we have put together some pointers to help you pick out that perfect outfit for the office or the courtroom. After all, if you look and feel confident in what you’re wearing, others will pick up on it and in turn feel and believe that confidence too. It will help leave a lasting impression with an interviewer or client alike.
So, let’s start with the basics. First and foremost, we’ll list the no no’s. These items of clothing are never suitable for the office or a courtroom:
The reason these items fall under ‘casual attire’ is because they are for more informal/casual settings…. Not the workplace.
So, what should you wear?
Above all else, always check your company’s dress code to see what is or is not allowed. Dress codes will vary slightly from company to company but the general basic rules are usually the same.
Suits – You don’t have to spend a fortune on a suit to look good. Whilst it would be nice to be able to have a bespoke suit crafted specifically for you, this can be an expensive method of collecting an arsenal of work attire, especially if you’re first starting out in your career. Sure, once your successful and financially well off you can splurge on the finest suits from the finest fabrics but a cheaper way to get the same bespoke look would be to get a suit ‘off the peg’ and get it tailored.
Most suits are made with the view of having them tailored in some form or another, they’ll generally have a boxier shape to allow for adjustments. Admittedly, some people can take one straight off the peg and it fits perfectly first time (Grrrrr) but most people can really benefit from a bit of tailoring to their suit, it can make a £100 suit look like it’s worth £1,000!
Look at the 2 suits above. The one on the left is untailored, the one on the right is…. See the difference a bit of tailoring can make?
The pattern of your suit is also quite important, suitable styles include the classic Pinstripe, Herringbone and Glen Plaid as well as standard block colours. Always aim to go for a more conservative shade such as Navy, Grey or Black. As funky as a brown checked tweed suit would look, it is not suitable for the office.
When looking to purchase work attire, it is worth investing in more than one suit with the ideal number being 3 or more. Always aim to get an additional pair of trousers that you can alternate between as trousers get worn and having 2 pairs per suit will increase the outfits lifespan.
Shirts – This is an interesting topic having discussed the matter with several lawyers themselves. Some believe that simple, conservative shirts should be worn whereas some feel that wearing slightly bolder colours is acceptable in the workplace but not in a courtroom. In any case, always think about what you have planned for the day and what colour would work best.
Irrespective of what colour/style/pattern you choose always ensure that your shirt is clean, ironed and if possible, slightly fitted. It’s not much use having a lovely fitted suit and a horrible baggy shirt. If you do decide to go a little bit bolder, don’t go crazy. A nifty paisley shirt might look good on a night out but is not suitable for the office.
Shoes – Shoes should always be polished and look smart. Scruffy and battered shoes are a definite no no and can reflect badly on you, if you can’t maintain your shoes, can you maintain your workload? As with shirts and suits, a more formal approach to your footwear is better. Aim for black or brown shoes (black shoes work best with black or grey suits; brown shoes work best with navy or grey suits). Suitable styles include; Oxfords, Derbies, Brogues or Monk Straps
Tie – As with the rest, don’t go for anything too loud or brash. Many people use a tie as an expression/extension of their personality but that flashing snowman tie you got for Christmas just isn’t going to cut it in the office. Also be weary of patterned ties, only a few people can pull off a patterned tie/shirt combo so aim to go for block colours or understated patterns. It’s also good to know how to actually tie a tie which you can learn by clicking here.
Pocket Square (optional) – Make sure it matches/compliments your tie and again, make sure you know how to fold one by clicking here.
Accessories – remember, less is more. Whilst a few bits of jewellery or pins is ok, over doing the accessories will take away from your outfit and could end up looking tacky or garish (also consult your companies dress code to see what accessories are acceptable).
Aftershave – Nothing wrong with smelling nice, just don’t overdo it so people aren’t choking on your scent.
Making sure you have these fundamentals covered will help ensure you not only look good in the office, but feel good too!