What to Wear to Professional Legal Events

what to wear to legal eventsOne question that is often on the mind of law students and young lawyers is what to wear to professional legal events. Today we welcome Desiree Moore from House of Marbury, a fashion and style blog for lawyers. In this post, she shares with you a three-step guide for dressing for professional legal networking events. Welcome, Desiree!

Anytime you are in an academic or professional setting that centers on legal practice — we’re thinking Catapult 2014 — it is a good idea to be mindful of your attire. You will want to look professional, above all, but you should feel comfortable in your skin and confident, too.

When planning your wardrobe, go to the event page first. Look around for wardrobe guidance. Occasionally, a conference will indicate whether it is business attire, business casual, or otherwise. If the event page does not say specifically, take a look at pictures from prior years to determine what conference attendees wore (and always take guidance from the most professionally dressed versus the least).

You’ll want to err on the side of dressing in a manner that is expected of legal professionals, since this is who you will meet over the course of the conference. Once you have a good sense of the tone and tenor of the conference, you should be ready to put your own conference day wardrobe together.

1. Start with the basics

For women, a great suit, or a blazer paired with a nice pair of trousers or skirt are an easy conference go-to. Black pieces are always perfectly appropriate, though arguably a little generic. If you’re feeling bold, opt for something with a little color, like a beautiful blue trouser or a show-stopping red suit. If you’re not comfortable wearing a lot of color, opt for a small pop of color instead. A pale blue or pink button down are great options against a black, navy, or grey wardrobe backdrop.

For men, a properly fitted blue or grey suit is traditional in a professional setting, as is a nice sport coat if the attire is business casual. Whether the attire is business or business casual or otherwise, choose your best button down shirt — wrinkle free, crisp white. If you’re feeling bold, choose a suit with a pin stripe or a blazer with some texture or pattern (though nothing too wild). Avoid pants with pleats and be sure your pants easily hit the top of your shoes — in our opinion, a small break in a suit or trouser pant is best.

2. Accessorize

A statement necklace or bold chunky ring can make great accessories for an otherwise conservative wardrobe for women. For men, some fun cufflinks or a comment-worthy tie are a great idea at a conference.

For all conference attendees, dressing in a conservative, professional manner, while showing off your personality with some fun, unexpected accessories is a great way to distinguish yourself from other program attendees and ensure you’ll meet as many people as possible!

3. Be practical

When considering your wardrobe, professionalism should be top of mind, of course. But oftentimes, legal conferences can span an entire day and so you should be sure that you are comfortable, too.

Women, choose comfortable flats or a platform shoe so your foot isn’t contorted for thirteen hours! (If heels are a must for you — and we definitely get that — slip a pair of flats in your bag that you can wear while walking to and from the conference or during down time.)

Men’s shoes can be stiff and uncomfortable after several hours, too, so be sure you are grabbing your favorite work shoes that have a little give and a good sole. Nothing you wear should be too tight, including the top button of your shirt and your tie.

(Bonus tip: The best conferences, like Catapult, include an after-hours party. This is a great opportunity to transition from your day wardrobe to something more fun for evening. Opt for something conservative, but feel free to have a little fun and show who you are. Think office-holiday party appropriate — more casual than your daily professional attire, but not the same piece you would wear for cocktail hour with friends.)

It’s important to look your best so that you feel your best, and so you can dive into the conference and any networking opportunities that come with it with confidence and ease. Good luck, and enjoy Catapult!

Want more from House of Marbury? Click for daily fashion and style advice for lawyers!

Thanks, Desiree! Great tips on what to wear for professional legal networking events.
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