A decade after the dot-com boom pushed casual workplace attire into vogue, casual dress has become commonplace in many industries. However, the conservative legal field has been slow to embrace casual dress.
Even in law firms that have adopted a business casual dress code, law firm associates and other legal professionals might do well to ignore it for many reasons. Formal business attire is necessary for many activities such as courtroom appearances and client meetings. Moreover, the way you dress at work can affect the image you convey to partners and influence assignments, promotions and your future within the firm.
For guidance on proper dress, review the tips below for men, these guidelines on women’s dress and this sample law firm dress code.
Law Firm Dress Code for Men
Formal Business Attire - For interviews, court appearances, client meetings, presentations and related business events, a tailored suit in a neutral color such as gray or navy is necessary. Beneath the suit, wear a collared, long-sleeve white dress shirt with a conservative tie.
Business Casual Attire - For less formal events, you can eliminate the tie and wear a suit with a knit shirt, golf shirt or dressy sport shirt. It is also acceptable to wear khakis or casual slacks with a sport jacket, dress shirt, sweater (short or long-sleeve), sweater vest or cardigan.
Both casual and business attire should be clean, pressed and wrinkle free, without holes or frayed areas. Small logos such as Polo or Izod logos are acceptable but shirts and slacks bearing large promotional information are not.
Unacceptable Clothing for Men
- Clothing that is ill-fitting or too tight
- Shorts, jeans or cargo pants
- Garments bearing pictures or large promotional information
- Casual shirts without collars
- Sweatshirts, sweat suits, jogging or warm-up suits
- Jeans or denim of any type, color or style
- Golf shirts with large logos or lettering
- Wild colors or prints
- Novelty ties
Conservative leather dress shoes with dark (black, navy, dark gray or brown) socks are ideal. For business casual days, laced loafers or dock shoes are acceptable. Shoes should be polished and in good condition.
Avoid: Scuffed or worn dress shoes; athletic shoes, flip-flops, moccasins or sandals.
A short, neat, conservative hairstyle is important. As a general rule, hair length should not extend beyond the lower lobe of the ear or touch the shirt collar. Facial hair should be neat and groomed.
Avoid: Long hair; wild, untamed styles; long beards or excessive facial hair; hair dyed in an unnatural color such as pink or blue.
Limit jewelry and accessories. Keep nails clean and trimmed short.
Avoid: Heavy aftershave or cologne; excessive jewelry; earrings; and visible tattoos or piercings.