1) How is the dress attire of a female lawyer different from a paralegal or a secretary?
In the legal world, like many other professions, the daily ensemble denotes an attorney’s power and place in the hierarchical system that is the “Big Law Firm.” Female attorneys tend to lean toward the dark power suit or jacket/skirt combo to assert their ranking amongst the other lawyers. Paralegals and secretaries, on the other hand, do not usually partake in this caste system and instead live in a group setting where everyone is equal. Therefore, they tend to dress a bit more care free.
“Female attorneys tend to lean toward the dark power suit or jacket/skirt combo to assert their ranking amongst the other lawyers,” says Pegram.
Given the fact that secretaries are usually a bit older, you’ll likely see a more vintage/classic look (i.e., cardigan over shoulder, pleated skirts, and elegant accessories such as pearl earrings). The female paralegal represents the pop culture of the legal atmosphere. You can see all of the latest trends come to life in a stylish and work appropriate manner; imagine Vogue meets Wall Street Journal. Although this may seem like an odd couple, they actually go hand in hand when meeting a client and a casual lunch date fall on the same day.
2) We have seen different images of actresses as lawyers on TV shows such as ‘Girlfriends’ and ‘Sex and the City’ (SATC). Are the outfits of Joan (Girlfriends) and Miranda (SATC) accurate depictions of a female lawyer’s wardrobe?
Both Joan and Miranda do a great job depicting the dress of female attorneys in their individual situations. For example, Joan is a middle-aged African American attorney in Los Angeles, CA. She was always put together enough to remain professional without losing her eccentricity, like her wildly untamable, yet unique curly mane. I think the stylists of the show took the setting into account when preparing Joan’s wardrobe. Very often attorneys, as well as other professionals, have more of a casual appearance in LA.
On the contrary, New York City attorneys, such as Miranda, prepare to brave the harsh legal environment with classy, yet predictable, work attire. SATC also does well at showing Miranda’s seniority within her firm. Although never too flashy, the red-headed heroine always sported an authoritative outfit, as she was a senior attorney steps away from partner at her firm.
3) What are some professional pieces you like to see on women?
I like the suit and sweater combo. I have only seen this done correctly a few times, but when pulled off it can be a great ensemble. Coupling a suit jacket with a thin cashmere v-neck or a cardigan really catches my eye. I also like to see simple skirts with a bold belt. The combination of a crisp white shirt and charcoal pencil skirt connected at the midsection by an oversized belt draws enough attention to be noticeable without being distracting.