February 6, 2017

How to Build a Lawyer Wardrobe

Lawyer and law school outfit ideas including skirt suits, pant suits, blouses, work heels, work flats, and work totes | brazenandbrunette.com

These past few weeks back at school I have been busy applying and interviewing for summer clerk positions because here at my school it's time for Spring OCIs (on campus interview). I missed out on the Fall OCIs because a lot of those were nabbed during the summer, so now I'm trying to play catch up. Since I'm broke right now, I'm slowly trying to build up my wardrobe by buying like one or two things every couple of months so that when I do get a job I'll have everything I need.

Related: Internship Interview Prep

Skirt Suit

Right now I only have one skirt suit but I eventually want to have a few on hand. Skirt suits are more traditional and more conservative than pant suits so this is usually what I wear for an interview just to err on the subtle side. Panty hose is starting to not be a thing anymore so I usually don't wear it but if your from requires it, I've been told to get skin colored ones instead of black. 

The most traditional color is black but navy and gray are generally accepted and are even okay for court. I take my suit jackets in to get hemmed so that the sleeves aren't too long to make my suit perfect for my body. One tip that I've been given on suits is don't dry clean it until it gets dirty because it'll help it last longer.

Pant Suit

I also have one pant suit that I bought with my skirt suit as a set so the material and the shade of black match perfectly so my jacket can be interchangeable. In general, go a size up to prevent bunching around your crotch or being inappropriately tight in your butt. Fit it to your thighs and then for about $20 you can have it taken in at the waist and hemmed. When I get closer to graduating I think I'm going to ask my mom to help me buy a nice custom tailored Ann Taylor suit!

Don't get a suit to be "fun" or "show your personality" or stand out." The suit should say "I'm a professional" and your attitude and personality can show the rest. I know this sounds strict, but lawyers are generally expected to be one of the most conservative in the business style.


Get white, off-white, blush, or nude shirts for interviews and other big days. If you're looking for a little color, I've been told that powder blue is your best option for that. Later down the road once you get the feel of your firm, you can go with other colors. Jewel tones like sapphire, emerald, ruby, or amethyst are great power colors without being overpowering. If you get the right top, it can be worn under a suit jacket or with editor pants and a blazer for less formal business outfits.

Business Professional Dresses

For just regular days at the office, usually you can get away with a nice dress. I tend to love the wrap, sheath, and pencil shapes because they're flattering without being inappropriate. Always make sure the dress has a little sleeve, isn't too tight, doesn't end more than about an inch above the knee, and doesn't have a pattern that is too bold and is distracting. 

Related: The Difference Between Business Professional and Business Casual

Black Heels

My black heels were the first thing I added to my business professional wardrobe because they can go with almost everything. Make sure that the heel no more than 3.5 inches. Stay away from heels that have a platform because it's not very professional. Also, don't get open-toed shoes. Most importantly, make sure that the shoes you get are comfortable! It's worth it to invest a little more for shoes that you can work long days in while you run around the office.

Nude Heels

Next after the black heels, you need a pair of nude heels. Technically I have a pair of nude heels from my recruitment days, but they're a little too high for the business world and are in pretty rough shape after years of stacking. Nude heels are great for dresses or other colorful outfits so a new pair is the next thing on my list.

Black Flats

Warning: I've been told to avoid flats for interviews and the courtroom. I saved up for a pair of Tory Burch Reva flats and love them! I wear them on less dressy days to work or on dressy days will wear them walking from my car to the courthouse and then will throw them in my bag and change into heels when I get there. They also look great with skinny jeans for class!

Nude Flats 

My 2L year I invested in another pair of Tory flats, a nude Jolie bale slipper. I think the Jolie are more comfortable on my toes than the Revas, if any of y'all are trying to decide. Thanks to a reader's tip, I went for a nude shade just a little darker than my skin tone so it doesn't look like I'm barefoot. I love it because these flats go great with my navy outfits, but really they go with just about everything. I wear both my nude and black flats to work but actually get even more use out of them because they're perfect to wear with skinny jeans and a nice top to class so that I look put together even though I'm super comfortable.

Related: How I dress for class in law school

Professional Bag

I love my Louis Vuitton bag, don't get me wrong, but the traditional brown monogram doesn't exactly go with a black suit so I'm saving up to get a work bag and just use my Louis as an everyday bag. So if you're needing a new bag, learn from my mistake and get one that is in a versatile color (I'm thinking black since it goes with everything). Make sure that it's plenty big so you can fit a portfolio, planner, wallet, and even maybe a change of shoes in. There's lots of tote bags that are the perfect size for this! I personally think that bags are worth the investment because they last you years, so it might be worth it to use up a Christmas or Birthday request on a quality bag.

Subtle Jewelry

The key word here is subtle. I have a pearl necklace that I got for my birthday in college and I wear it all the time because it's just so classic! If pearls aren't your thing/not in your price range right now, look for simple necklaces that compliment rather than distract. 

And although I love my Kendra Scott Danielle earrings, I would never wear them to work! Make sure that you stick with studs at first because a lot of employers aren't fans of any dangly jewelry. Gold is the most traditional, but silver is fine if that better compliments your skin tone. Rose gold is iffy because it might be considered too trendy, so if you do wear it, make sure to stay subtle.

Last but certainly not least are watches. Even if you're not a watch person, you might consider putting one on for an interview because watches give off this "I'm punctual" vibe. yAlthough I love my Apple Watch, I still swap it out for a traditional watch for interviews because the sport band isn't exactly professional and I don't want it to be distracting.

Lawyer-esque Nails

If you did recruitment with your sorority then you should be familiar with this. I always try to get my nails done or at least do them myself before an interview and keep them polished. Pale pinks and nudes are perfect but French tips are fine too! Although red is a classic, I've always been told it's too bold for interviews. If you don't like polish, then you should at least get them buffed. 

Don't try to get trendy with pointy or almond shapes. In fact, some employers don't even like squared edges. I get that a lot of this is picky stuff but that's just something you have to embrace to work in the business professional world.

Money saving tips

Shop off-season by buying pants and jackets in the summer and blouses in the winter during end-of-season sales. 

Focus on a few items that you need the most and slowly save up and buy them throughout the year, and then slowly save up and expand on what you have. 

Invest in a few quality pieces that will last you all through law school and beyond instead of having to replace cheap pieces every few years, because it will save you money in the long run (same goes for shoes!). 

Use birthdays and Christmas to ask for these pieces or gift cards to stores that sell them because #adulting means birthday presents are now gift cards to tailor a suit instead of fun things. 

Use a tide-to-go pen and spot clean little mistakes as soon as possible to save from having to pay for dry cleaning. 

Buy pieces that easily mix and match so you have a capsule wardrobe. Borrow what you don't have!

Other tips

While I've been slowly upgrading my wardrobe, I've been slowly upgrading my closet supplies as well. I've ordered a pack of these velvet dress hangers this summer to put all of my new work clothes on and I noticed how they take up less room on the rack than plastic hangers (so I can fit more clothes in the same space) so now I've ordered another pack and my goal is to have my whole closet matching! I also got these dress pants hangers for my jeans so they'll match with my black shirt hangers. Another thing that I strongly recommend you consider investing in is this mini clothes steamer! I've had mine for a few years and I always have friends rush over the night before their interview to use it.

If you're looking for more outfit inspiration, resume advice, or interview tips, then check out my Pinterest Board for more help!
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  1. I highly recommend not wearing your nude flats with pants...makes you look barefoot from afar.

  2. Omg good point i hadn't thought about that! Thanks for keeping me from embarrassing myself 😅

  3. Such a great blog and all the writings. Can’t help thinking about the author.
    Joseph Hayon

  4. Which mini steamer do you use? Can you recommend one?

  5. This blog post gives good advice, but some points are concerning. Employers will mind if a woman's nail shape is square? What year are we in again? Not sure where the author is from, but in NY that concept and others like it seem ridiculous.