Earlier this week, Above the Law (the parent of Fashionista) reported that Chicago Bar Association held a What Not To Wear Fashion Show [PDF]. While the ATL article is witty and amusing, I am shocked (and horrified) that a bar association in 2010 is basically telling lady lawyers to wear Burqas to work so they won't tempt the men. (yes, you read that right).
The most offensive tip from Legally Fabulous:
"'Looking sexy in a law firm is disrespectful – Mary Nicolau.' Absolutely. No one should be able to see your cleavage and your skirt or dress should be knee-length and not too tight. The partner you’re working for is someone’s husband/father/boyfriend. Show some respect. . . . In addition, never wear boots, never show your arms, NEVER wear pink, never wear clothes that reveal your body shape."
WHAT?! is she bananas or what? While I am NO fan of slutty attire (or inappropriately tight clothing or seeing your cleavage) this is just WAY out of line. What year are we in again? The dark ages. PLEASE!
Ah, yes. To protect the men! Because if an adult man spots an elbow somewhere, all hell might break loose.
Attractive Nuisance chimes in:
In sum, if you are a male lawyer, invest in a well-fitting suit (and be grateful). If you are a female lawyer, invest in a well-fitting male suit and a male who will wear said suit and speak for you, Cyrano style. . .[¶] this fashion show and all others of its kind give a completely outdated view about what is appropriate for women to do and to look like. This is particularly clear given that the how-tos were steps to take to make sure men are more comfortable with women around them.
Preach on sister! It is time to get rid of outdated, sexist, stereotype-perpetuating views that continue to promote gender inequality in the workplace.
Don't interpret this to mean I am some crazy radical. If there is no protest, how to we effectuate change?
As I have previously discussed here, we all have many tools in our tool boxes and you must learn when it is wise to use each.
Now, with that off my chest, I agree that there are times when you must quiet your inner fashion diva and not take a fashion risk:
- For Interviews: remember, your goal is to get the job. Dress in a manner that helps you achieve your objective, not hurt your ability to make a great first impression. Your attire should be "appropriate," or in otherwords in line with the firm culture and the firms expectations of you.
- For Court, and sometimes for client meetings unless you are a fashion lawyer like me, you should wear a suit that is fitted properly with appropriate shoes i.e no flip-flops or sneakers (and please note, in California, heels and open toe shoes are perfectly fine, as long as they are in good taste. Further, stockings and skirt suits are no longer required.)
The Chicago Bar's archaic panel presentation now gives me yet another reason why I am grateful that I work at a firm that smiles upon fashion, fashion law, and red pumps, and my red open-toe strappy sandals that I wear with my favorite suit.
H/T: Cassidy Saitow, Angela Jacobs and Biana Borukhovich