Through the course of your law school career and beyond, you will be required to (1) know the meaning of “professional dress” and (2) be capable of displaying professional dress at appropriate times. Most of the tips below are directly related to interviews, and a little leeway may be given for other “professional dress” situations. When required to dress professionally, the goal is to appear neat and conservative. Professional situations are not a fashion competition. After experiencing several professional dress situations in the legal profession, you will develop your own style and an understanding of what is appropriate in various professional settings. Until then, stick with the guidelines below:
- A solid color or conservative pin stripe dark suit (navy or dark gray) with a conservative tie. No vests. Pocket squares are generally not appropriate.
- A plain white, long-sleeved shirt is the best option. Boring is good.
- The jacket should be buttoned (top one or two buttons only) when standing, and unbuttoned when seated.
- Shoes and belt should match, and both should be darker than your suit. Socks should match your suit or shoes (no white socks) and should extend under your pants when seated. Practice at home to make sure you don’t show any leg when you sit.
- Conservative, neatly-trimmed facial hair is acceptable, no “soul patches” or other unusual trimmings.
- Keep hair neatly trimmed with a short, conservative cut.
- A conservative suit – this means a jacket (NOT a cardigan sweater) with matching pants or skirt is best. It should fit well; the most common mistakes we see are too-tight or too-short skirts.
- The jacket should be buttoned when standing (top one or two buttons may be acceptable). Depending on the style, it may be appropriate to unbutton the jacket when seated.
- Skirts should NEVER be more than 1 inch above your knee. NO EXCEPTIONS.
- The blouse should be conservative and plain – nothing distracting. A neckline is fine, but cleavage should never be visible. When wearing a button-down shirt, be sure it doesn’t gape between buttons. It may be necessary to use safety pins between buttons on the inside of the shirt.
- ALWAYS wear pantyhose (skin colored) to an interview if you are wearing a skirt. Bring an extra pair in case your original pair gets snagged. Skin-colored knee highs are generally best with pants. Do not forego socks or stockings.
- Shoes should be plain, closed-toe (no peep-toes) and no more than 3” heels.
- Be sure to wear minimal jewelry and makeup. Keep your hair clean and neat, and pull long hair back or partially back to prevent it from becoming a distraction. Do not leave any wild or bright colorings in your hair for an interview.
- Be sure to iron your clothes and shine/polish your shoes – few things can be as distracting as frumpy shoes and disheveled, wrinkly clothing.
- Professional tailors can be economical. Often, clothing stores (department stores, etc.) will tailor their own suits at no charge. Even if it costs you a few dollars, it is money well-spent.
- No piercings or tattoos should be visible, with the exception of one hole in each ear for ladies. Any other visible piercings must be removed.
- Remember, the point is for interviewers and other professionals to remember you and your personality. They should not remember what you wear; they should remember how professional you act and appear.
Remember, the Career Development team is always here to lend advice, check your wardrobe, and give suggestions on where to find relatively inexpensive attire. We also maintain a healthy stock of pantyhose, lint rollers, safety pins, shoe polish, and other necessities to deal with last minute wardrobe malfunctions that occur at the law school.