Came across an interesting WSJ blog post today on women and fashion (heels, really) in the courtroom. I especially liked one of the comments that really takes into account that fashion, and how we dress in general, can be significant and should not be ignored:
I once second-chaired a month-long civil trial (a highly charged corporate contract case) after which the jury deliberated for more than a week. We lost the case, and the jury was obviously spent after a long taxing jury room fight. After the verdict was delivered, both parties were able to poll the jury and were able to ask questions about their decision. After the whole jury generously shared their struggle with some of the factual issues, the legal standards and the attorneys’ handling of the witnesses and evidence, one juror wanting to add levity to the heavy discussion and said how much fun they had observing my fashion each day of the trial. Once he made that comment, one juror after the other jumped in calling out either a suit or shoe I wore on particular days, and they said it was a daily topic of chatter in the jury room. All but two had some remark about trial fashion (the attention was almost embarrassing), I’ve always wondered whether their attention to my fashion is what made our case even close and helped make their perception of our case a bit more positive. Bottom line, I believe fashion matters. And I think stepping outside of the black or blue skirt suit and dark low pumps uniform is not necessarily bad.
How does fashion play into your role in the legal bubble? I have always found that wearing a suit elevates me from “staff,” and I always wear a blazer if I’m going “business casual,” to maintain my professionalism.
In a “business casual” environment, how do you balance the need to maintain your professionalism with not sticking out like a sore thumb (or a dweeb, tight-ass, nerd, etc). We are often counseled to “mirror” your bosses, but what if you boss is the managing partner and her idea of “business casual” are a pair of khaki’s and a hawaiian shirt?