An Image That Will Win the Case Every Time
Before you utter a single word, your clothing has already spoken for you. In a competitive business world, you have one chance to make a first impression.
As an attorney, you need to prepare your wardrobe with the same attention to detail with which you prepare your case. Whether you are consulting with a client, negotiating with adversaries, or standing before the bench, you will always be under close scrutiny. A difficult position, but dressing the part will turn this to your advantage.
A Good “Law Suit”
Your clients and the jury have a preconceived notion of how a lawyer should appear. It is important to fulfill their expectations. Your wardrobe should cloak you in an aura of confidence, with the assertiveness they anticipate. Proper dress goes a long way in assuring your clients that they have made a wise choice in seeking your counsel.
By combining different fabrics, colors, and styles, your wardrobe will communicate significantly different messages. Choosing the right mix for a particular situation will be critical to its outcome. Whether you are counseling a client or dominating the courtroom, your attire can offer powerful, strategic advantages. A winning strategy starts with a winning look!
Dressing to your advantage depends largely on your area of concentration.
Not only do clients come from various demographic and socio-economic backgrounds, but also the settings in which you, the attorney, represent your clients vary. Each area of law poses different dressing challenges. As far as dress is concerned, the dynamics of representing a corporate client differ totally from representing a client in entertainment law.
Seeing is Believing
How can you be sure you are making the right choices for your area of concentration and effectiveness? First, you have to understand the psychological implications of clothing and the subliminal messages clothing transmits. Visually based assumptions affect clients, juries, judges, partners, associates, and our colleagues’ perceptions of us.
What is appropriate attire for your area of concentration?
If you are in a conservative arena and want to be taken seriously, dress conservatively. Specializations in corporate law, taxation, finance, business, insurance, government, and labor relations are examples of conservative fields.
The Power of Color
The darker the color, the more authority the attire conveys. A gray or navy pinstripe suit communicates the highest authority. Wear this suit for court presentations, board meetings, and for serious business with clients. The next best choice is a solid navy or charcoal suit. A black suit commands too much authority, so it is best we leave that one for the judge.
There is Power in Softness
There are times when the “Power Look” is overkill, or too intimidating, where a softer persona will further your agenda. This is true during arbitration, where being perceived as neutral can be an asset, or during a meeting with the adult children of the elderly, discussing sensitive issues. Wearing suits or sport coats in medium grays, browns, tans, and olives, comes across as non-threatening, friendly, and forthcoming.
If the culture of your firm is business casual, then dress smart casual and pull together a well coordinated look with a dress shirt, or dress casual shirt, and dress slacks. Don’t cross the line and wear your weekend wear and sneakers. Too casual is not acceptable in the professional arena.
The Right Suit Styles
You do not need to dress trendy, but you must stay current. Wear today’s suit styles and be perceived as updated and current with the times. Today’s look is a slimmer cut single-breasted 2-button coat with flat front trousers. If that does not flatter your physique, than a medium cut single-breasted suit with pleated pants is okay. For attorneys representing sports figures, and those in entertainment law, the music industry, or other creative fields, wearing trendy clothes can be an asset, but don’t overdo it, as you are still a lawyer. Try the new double-breasted suits, with the slimmer peak lapels or the narrow lapel single-breasted suits.
When Wearing a Suit Your Dress Shirt is a Focal Point
The shirt is a major focal point. It is the “stage”, while the suit is the background. It must not only be well-pressed, but fit impeccably, especially in the area of the collar and cuffs. For dress formal, there is no excuse for not buttoning the collar because of tightness or wearing ill-fitting shirts; ditch them! An attorney should wear a high quality dress shirt. Try custom-made dress shirts, to get a perfectly tailored shirt, if you cannot find one that fits properly in stores. The collar style you choose is important. Your face shape may be oblong, square, round, diamond, etc., and since many men will experience hair loss at some point, the collar is the most important element in giving balance to your face. The most appropriate collars for a professional appearance are standard point that will take you from day into evening, or medium spread. Spread collars look elegant for formal occasions.
Business Casual Shirts
Business casual shirts in solids, stripes, checks, and plaids, work well with solid blazers. Solid colored dress shirts look casual when worn open collared with sport coats. For more relaxed days, wear sport shirts that are well coordinated with chinos or dress slacks. An un-tucked shirt with jeans is not a professional look for work.
Fit to be Tied
Out of everything you wear, you will be remembered most for your tie. Do not buy cheap ties, and ditch all those that reek of “birthday gift” unless they are in extremely good taste. Stick to high quality wool-lined silks that hold their shape and don’t twist. Always make sure the tie is the proper width in proportion to your chest and that the length extends an inch below your belt line. Geometrics, paisleys, and rep ties are the most popular. For young attorneys or those in specialties that allow for a trendier look, the skinnier ties, worn with the latest new shorter collar point shirts, are a sure bet in dressing for success.
Author – Janine Giorgenti, Designer for www.bestcustomshirt.com
A fourth generation Italian-American fashion designer who studied at the world famous New York Fashion Institute of Technology. Giorgenti uses innovative technology, allowing shoppers to create Custom Dress Shirts at www.BestCustomShirt.com. Janine has made special appearances on all major networks, including CNN, CBS, and Fox. Giorgenti’s designs have been featured in The New York Times as well as Vogue Magazine.
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