I was interested to read Amanda Hess’ recent Slate article on the perils of wardrobe choice for lawyers. There’s a very strict, if not obvious or consistent, code of propriety for men and women – she outlines some of the challenges that apply to everyone, as well as the disproportionate impact on female lawyers, who had to pass the bar like everyone else but get reduced to sexpots if they wear the wrong heels. The gender bias starts with the click bait title: Female lawyers who dress too “sexy” are apparently a “huge problem” in the courtroom.
None of this is a surprise to me. One of the workshops I’m called upon to give at the undergraduate level at least a couple of times every year is my spiel on “Wardrobe – why you need to look the part.” It’s the least fun workshop I give; pretty much just me, showing slides of good and bad wardrobe choices and getting the kids to articulate their assumptions and biases about a person based on their looks. It’s ugly, it’s problematic on very many levels, and I keep doing it…because people really need it.
So here are some of my insights, based on four years of telling people how to dress for job interviews and internships. Read more