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Corporate Dressing

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#26 MarciaB

Posted 08 December 2017 - 01:54 PM

Hmm, would a mentor programme work?

Ie each partner takes a few of the young female lawyers under their wing and mentors them ?  This could encompass more than just dress code.

As a young banker, I remember my firm did something similar over a lunch a month and it did work well.  I distinctly remember one of the senior female execs talking to us over lunch about dress code along the lines of "you must dress for the job you want - wear what you like on the weekend/get changed before hitting the pub after work - but in the office and with clients - you must dress like the professional you want to be".

We also discussed sexual harassment (what it was, what to do about it) and even work/life balance with children (she was very frank about her need for a nanny plus daycare to manage everything).

It was framed as "casual" but there were definitely points of discussion each time.  I liked the sessions and tried to do something similar with my own team years later, but management weren't supportive (didn't want to upset the boys in the office basically).

#27 Hands Up

Posted 08 December 2017 - 01:58 PM

I think just be blunt. Do it in a group setting. Explain this is not about any one person, but about the image the firm is trying to project. Court attire (and days when meeting clients) is non-negotiable. I wouldn't really care about office attire if not near client meeting rooms.

Panty hose etc is long gone, and I've worked in top tier law firms. Blazers with dresses, or blazers with skirts/pants is fine when in meetings. Otherwise not expected.

I still find the trend of people wearing very tight pants to work odd. But I also know I'm behind the times on that one.

#28 rileys-mum

Posted 08 December 2017 - 02:05 PM

I would run a "building our brand" session with the introduction including a piece on the bigger the clients we get the greater opportunity for all.

Do a bit on communication, first impressions then have image consultant in.

Have active participation throughout to have the group to identify areas of improvement. Then hopefully if facilitated right they will WANT to dress better because there may be better opportunities for all and have them "draft or ammend" dress code. They will then have ownership.

It is how I would do it.

#29 kpingitquiet

Posted 08 December 2017 - 02:18 PM

I like the lunch discussion idea. I also think if you want to avoid too draconian a stance, maybe send out an email about court-specific dress and worry less about the daily in-office styles.

As for button-up shirts and pantyhose, unless you also have a weight/bust-size limit, just let it go. Women are not men and one unified look cannot possibly suit or even fit on all female bodies. I would have to wear a size 24 business shirt to fit my boobs, and I am a reasonable 18 in every other shirt/top, so I opt for looks that don't require so called business shirts. And I think pantyhose in Australian climates are anti-OHS and anti-feminist in any climate.

#30 RPM

Posted 08 December 2017 - 02:22 PM

I recently heard a great line from a friend who attended a June Daly Watkins course.

The presenter told the young women (I don't think any men attended the course) to look in the mirror before work and decide if they looked "hot".

If the answer was yes, they needed to go back and get changed as "hot" was not appropriate work attire.

Jokes aside, I agree with having a team meeting where you outline dress expectations.

I previously worked at a Big 4 accounting firm and in the early 2000s we moved from formal business attire to business casual.  We had firmwide presentations which included powerpoint photos of appropriate and non-appropriate business clothing.  It was pitched at both men and women.  Whilst some people may have rolled their eyes, noone was offended by the presentation.

#31 Coffeegirl

Posted 08 December 2017 - 02:25 PM

What do the male partners and lawyers in the firm wear?  

Are they in full suit and tie everyday?   If not, then you need to enforce the dress code with them as well.

DH works in a corporate environment and even their ‘casual’ Friday’s have strict rules.   No jeans, no thongs, no t-shirts, singlets or spaghetti straps tops.

#32 magnanimous

Posted 08 December 2017 - 03:01 PM

I just left after 15 Year’s at one of the top 3 law firms. Now at a mid tier international firm. Dress code hasn’t changed for me. Always wear a just above the knee wrap dress or a line dress with stockings. Always have a blazer in the office for meetings etc.

Also accidentally made a junior cry once by trying to talk to her about professional attire. So don’t bother now.

#33 Neeps

Posted 08 December 2017 - 03:11 PM

I'm a lawyer working in-house. When working at a large firm we were given a pamphlet on appropriate dressing.  I don't recall anyone getting upset over it - it was designed to be helpful rather than dictatorial.

Fundamentally though, I think that the OP and her partners get to decide what image they want their firm to project. And if that means defining the work dress standard then so be it.

#34 Wango

Posted 08 December 2017 - 03:28 PM

Another law firm partner here - national firm.  

You need a dress code - problem is that after a while people slip back into habits.   We tried reiterating the policy but those who aren’t toeing the line don’t recognise that it’s directed at them!!

The only thing that has worked has been talking one on one with individuals - in a gentle way of course.  

While I was on mat leave there was a session from a stylist type person that did not go well from all accounts!

#35 Pearson

Posted 08 December 2017 - 03:32 PM

I googled corprate dressing. One link that came up was Birdsnest website with Career Girl choice of outfits. Many of these options would be suitable for what you are describing.
A few law firms I have seen have uniforms, very subtle for the lawyers, think black on black logos on suits and separates. Small logo ties etc.

But, you can't be subtle. You are going to have to be upfront about it. You are corporate lawyers and your clients dress very professionally I assume. They and judges will make assumptions on the professionalism and aptitude on what the lawyers look like. Therefore, less Ally dressing, more Jacqui E. You can get affordable pieces that will last more than a season, but still look professional. As corporate lawyers I am sure they earn enough to buy a few decent skirts/dresses/pants. They aren't in uni anymore.
We are not a corporate workplace, but people were taking the p*ss with their outfits and suitability for the office.
They made a rule of uniforms mon-thurs, and special event Fridays. Even on Friday we dress nicely, trendy, but nice.

#36 Pearson

Posted 08 December 2017 - 03:34 PM

View Postmagnanimous, on 08 December 2017 - 03:01 PM, said:

I just left after 15 Year’s at one of the top 3 law firms. Now at a mid tier international firm. Dress code hasn’t changed for me. Always wear a just above the knee wrap dress or a line dress with stockings. Always have a blazer in the office for meetings etc.

Also accidentally made a junior cry once by trying to talk to her about professional attire. So don’t bother now.

See... a uniform of sorts...

#37 Daffy2016

Posted 08 December 2017 - 03:43 PM

Whatever you do, please direct it impartially at both men and women. Even if it’s only the women dressing inappropriately, it will look all kinds of sexist and awful if you don’t.

Also, as a PP said, take into account different body shapes and sizes. I can’t wear business shirts because of my boobs - I'd have to get them professionally tailored. Also, as a plus size person, finding decent quality corporate wear can be a very expensive and frustrating exercise.

#38 Hini

Posted 08 December 2017 - 03:58 PM

Yes we will definitely invite all he Lawyers to attend. Male and female. And 'word up' the consultant on the message and what we want to achieve.

I'm a size 10 and a DD bust so I get shirts don't work for everyone. And all our female lawyers are quite gorgeous (possibly too gorgeous!).

There's some great feed back here so thanks all for your contributions.

#39 Lifesgood

Posted 08 December 2017 - 04:33 PM

I'd provide visual examples of the image you want the company to present. They are young and may have no idea.

I don't necessarily think short skirts, tight pants and cleavage are 'un-corporate' these days. A mini skirt looks fine if worn with a nice jacket and soft blouse, ditto tight pants. good quality shoes make a huge difference. Strappy sandals rarely cut it in the corporate world IMHO. Soft flowing tops can look great with a knee-length pin skirt, tailored pants or capri's (so long as they aren't cheap-looking).

You definitely need to allow them personal style and comfort, but within a range that is acceptable for your business/brand.

#40 DaLittleEd

Posted 08 December 2017 - 04:35 PM

View PostHini, on 08 December 2017 - 03:58 PM, said:

And all our female lawyers are quite gorgeous (possibly too gorgeous!).

And what exactly are they "too gorgeous" for? "Too gorgeous" to work effectively? "Too gorgeous" to be lawyers?

You may not have meant it this way, but your comment comes across as extremely sexist, and in light of this your OP seems pretty sexist too.

I think the answer is pretty simple. A policy distributed to all staff about professional dress during client meetings and court appearances. Gender neutral, I.e. shoulders covered, knees (or thighs) covered, no see through fabric.

Edited by DaLittleEd, 08 December 2017 - 05:00 PM.

#41 just someone

Posted 08 December 2017 - 06:29 PM


Edited by just someone, 14 January 2018 - 02:22 PM.

#42 Hini

Posted 08 December 2017 - 06:30 PM

Of course I didn't mean that.

I meant that they are very confident in how they look and this translates into too short skirts, skin tight clothing and plunging necklines.

#43 halcyondays

Posted 08 December 2017 - 07:06 PM

All professional dress codes imply that a certain look is expected to appear professional. Which implies that if you don’t look that way, you are not professional. Naturally people bristle at this idea.

You’d be far better off approaching it from an “expected court dress” perspective (an “institutional costume”, so to speak), and then the brand of your business. That your dress needs to reflect what the clients you want to attract expect, which is xyz. (Blazer or jacket to meetings, skirt of what length, no tight tops or pants, nothing sheer, closed toe shoes or whatever). And be fairly prescriptive if you need to.
The problem with style consultants is that fully grown adults don’t want someone to tell them what style they should aspire to.
I respond far better to people telling me that they realise it’s all a w**k, but I need to play along, rather than criticise my dress or imply I am not professional because of my attire.

#44 Tinkle Splashes

Posted 08 December 2017 - 07:15 PM

You’re lawyers. Draft a policy.

That’s what my firm has, that way it is not personal, no one is offended and there’s is no doubt about recollections of presentations etc.

If you can’t leave it to their individual judgment (which you clearly feel you can’t) it needs to be in a policy.

#45 Freddie'sMum

Posted 08 December 2017 - 07:33 PM

Having worked (on and off) as a legal secretary for the past 20 years I can tell you I have seen it all.

I have seen young female lawyers looking like they are about ready to hit the night clubs but it's actually 9am on a Friday morning, I have seen casual, I have seen corporate wear, I have seen everything !

Tinkle Splashes is right - you are lawyers, draft a policy and circulate it to everyone.  Male and Female.

And - as Daffy2016 has pointed out - as a plus size female trying to find "corporate wear" that doesn't make me look like a circus tent often lead me to tears.  I was told in my last job to "start wearing dresses" but I don't wear dresses.  I wear the nicest plus size pants / trousers I can find along with the nicest plus size 'work tops'.  Up until my last job, everyone was fine with my version of "corporate wear".

#46 ~Jolly_F~

Posted 08 December 2017 - 07:59 PM

I actually don't get the a uniform would look odd, possibly ridiculous statement.

Its pretty much what you want to do anyway but you don't want to label it as such.

A couple of law firms I see in court here have uniforms. Their shirt or top normal has a logo and they just put a jacket over the top for the courtroom. They wear pants or skirts with them. it looks professional and it makes it easy for everyone to know who they are, in a busy courthouse.

#47 IamOzgirl

Posted 08 December 2017 - 08:22 PM

View Post~J_F~, on 08 December 2017 - 07:59 PM, said:

I actually don't get the a uniform would look odd, possibly ridiculous statement.

Its pretty much what you want to do anyway but you don't want to label it as such.

A couple of law firms I see in court here have uniforms. Their shirt or top normal has a logo and they just put a jacket over the top for the courtroom. They wear pants or skirts with them. it looks professional and it makes it easy for everyone to know who they are, in a busy courthouse.

Sorry don't agree - a uniform in law would be tacky.

I would associate it with ambulance chasing law firms NOT a golden circle law firm.

Our policy OP I would be happy to share - it's pretty bland. I would be cautious of saying knee length skirt. You can be professional with an above the knee length skirt but not mini skirt.

My sil works for the DPP I can ask her for guidelines too off you want (not even they wear a uniform!!)

#48 Winterlong

Posted 08 December 2017 - 08:54 PM

Can you start the conversation as being prompted by some client feedback and expectations? And that you thought it would not hurt to bring an imagine consultatnt in to provide a 'refresher' on contemporary corporate dressing when meeting clients or attending court / conferences etc.

Then you can get the consultant to also point out that if you have clients coming into the office for meetings, then its important that everyone the client might see is dressed appropriately.

And any session on corporate dressing should include male and female members of staff or a session for each.

#49 kusanagi

Posted 08 December 2017 - 10:05 PM

How about organising with a personal shopper / stylist to offer everyone a free yearly 'work wardrobe' appointment with some token amount towards the clothes? It will require a bit of outlay but then it's a great perk rather than a mildly insulting seminar.

#50 Tinkle Splashes

Posted 08 December 2017 - 11:26 PM

The image consultant idea seems so bizarre to me. It won’t result in an enforceable dress code, won’t have any impact on future staff, may be considered condescending and offensive by existing staff.

In my firm we have meetings about developments in the law,  not about our clothes. We have a policy about our clothes, as do most law firms.

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