Summer Associates: Dress for Success This Summer

I get it, it’s summer and you would rather be outside in a pair of shorts.  Instead, you are inside of a law firm office.  Fight the temptation to dress down in the office this summer.  No matter how much the attorneys (who already have a job) may dress down.  Remember, it’s an extended interview and you don’t have the job yet.  Would you wear jeans to a law firm interview?  (I’m going to assume the answer is no.)  A good rule of thumb is to dress one level above the attorneys.

Guys – If they wear slacks and a shirt you should add a jacket or tie.  If Friday is casual day and some attorneys wear jeans, wear khakis.  Ladies – Please chime in and let me know the equivalent to what I just told the guys.  I’m not as clear with women’s clothing.  But I do know one thing…if there is any chance that someone at the firm might think you would wear that outfit out to a club, it’s the wrong outfit!  I may be the wrong messenger but I’ll go ahead and say it…ladies, you want the folks at the firm to focus on your talent and smarts as an aspiring attorney.  The tighter your clothing and the more cleavage you show, the less likely it is of that happening.  It sucks that that is the society we live in, but as of right now, it’s a reality.

Dressing up this summer doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.  My first summer at the firm I owned two suits when I started (one of which I borrowed money to buy to use for interviews).  You’ll be amazed what you can do with a couple of suits and a bunch of dress shirts.  I used money from my first few checks to buy several more suits and shirts from discount stores like Marshalls, TJ Maxx and a few stores in those big outlet malls.  And I couldn’t afford to blow the whole check on suits so I put my suits on layaway.  Yes I used layaway…at discount stores!  (I didn’t even know layaway still existed but I asked and they said yes!)  I would pay off one suit at a time.  It took about a month or two but it was nice to finally have a few more options!

Get the job before you decide to “express yourself” through your clothing.  Stay away from anything flashy.  Think Men In Black.  This is one area in which you want to blend in…not stand out.  Caveat – don’t get labeled as socially awkward because you take this advice too far and wear khakis to the softball outing!  Clearly, out of the office outings would require weather and activity appropriate clothing.  Common sense is your friend and should be used at all times.


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