Your corporate wardrobe doesn’t have to be droll.
I wear colourful suits and all manner of weird and wonderful outfits to court, to legal meetings, to client lunches. And by colourful I don’t mean navy…
But Is it OK to be a peacock in a court of law? Of course it is! The female corporate uniform is over-rated and out-dated. There’s no reason whatsoever you can’t be smart, awesome at your job and stylish, all at once. Even in the male dominated ultra-conservative corporate world, it can be done. Here’s why I think it’s OK (and really important) to get creative with your workwear.
Lawyer outfits: you can look chic and professional
It’s tempting in testosterone heavy enviros to ‘blend in’ with a wardrobe of grey, black and white. If this is naturally your colour palette of choice, more power to you. But, if it’s more habit that personal preference why not roll out those burgundy culottes for Friday’s staff meeting? The risk is that by blending in, our arguments become much less persuasive and we’re…well, forgettable.
Personally, for me, sticking to this ‘uniform’ 100% of the time is sartorial slavery. Without my morning style-fest, I can feel drab and uninspired – a little piece of me dies every time I roll out the ol’ marle knee-length pencil skirt.
Red suits win cases
During a lunch time shopping expedition with a friend (and fellow lawyer) I came across the most stunning coral and white tweed suit I have ever seen. Think Chanel meets Valentino meets Vetements. I had to have it. I handed over my credit card and announced to my friend that I would be trialing the suit at my next District Court hearing. Her instinctive response was “There’s no way you can wear that to court.” To which I replied: “Watch me.”
I did wear the suit to court. IMHO, I looked fabulous. We won the case, a landmark judgment in fact. It was a pretty big deal and I credit my suit for the victory. 100%. So did the barristers I worked with on the case.
Not only was it a professional win, but a personal one too: I looked smart without short-changing my own creative flair and compromising my femininity.
Know your audience
How do I get away with it? It’s all about timing and judgment: there’s a time and a place for everything. My emerald green and cobalt blue suits have now appeared at the Coroner’s Court and two of my favourite red suits have made it to the District and Local Courts. But, when it comes to superior courts I ditch the colour: the most daring was the *gasp* forest green number I donned for the Court of Appeal. Otherwise, in these circumstances I firmly adhere to the ‘uniform’: sheer stockings, black pencil skirt, matching blazer and pearl necklace.
I concede, sometimes my timing is a little off
Occasionally, I don’t quite get the timing right.
A few months back, I was asked by a team member to monitor a matter in court, “Sit at the back and try to be inconspicuous while you’re there” she said. The court day arrived and I sashayed into the office in a bright red suit. My colleagues burst into laughter with one saying “Ummm, what part of inconspicuous did you not understand?” Oops! I had clearly missed the mark. So, I headed off to court with some trepidation. Mercifully, I arrived to a courtroom full of red seats providing the perfect camouflage for me and my sassy red suit. Inconspicuousness achieved, like a boss.
Feed your creativity – lawyer outfits don’t have to be boring
After ten years in the legal biz, I realise now that nurturing an interest or creative outlet outside of the workplace is not only valuable to overall wellbeing but also to career success. For me, this is fashion. Putting together a killer outfit before I head out the door is my equivalent to downing a triple shot espresso. It sets me up in the best way possible to take on the day.
Want more inspo for incorporating a little fashion flair into your workwear? Here you go. And for this season’s must-have office updates, try these. Plus, here’s how to wear leather in the office. And what NOT to wear to the office.
Have you ever missed the mark with an outfit at work? We would love to hear your sartorial stories in the comments below. To chat with Lucy and other female businesswomen in the Iris Lillian Squad, click here.
Meet Lucy – the legal eagle with chic outfits a-million
Re-defining the uniform of the female lawyer, Lucy is living proof that humour, intelligence and a whole lotta’ sass are not mutually exclusive. Our resident office apropos expert doesn’t let being a commercial legal eagle get in the way of her penchant for fashion. She revels in bringing a little flair and joie de vivre to her workday wardrobe, and to yours. In fact, the most challenging part of her job is coordinating the perfect outfit in readiness to tackle whatever her working day throws her way. IMHO, she’s more than up to the task.
Cover photo: The Cut