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Figuring Out the Dress Code

Posted By NALS Editorial + Marketing Board, Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Updated: Monday, December 18, 2017

Dear Eula Mae:

I’m new in the legal field and proud to be legal secretary at a small law firm. There are only ten of us. We do not have a human resources office, only a paralegal who also serves as our office manager. I want so much to be the consummate professional and want to look professional too. I don’t know where to start or what will work as a daytime wardrobe. I’m new to the workforce and only have a few pairs of dark slacks and kind of floaty tops that seem to look more casual than my co-workers’ dressy outfits. I need some advice.

--Concerned in California


Dear Concerned:

What a great question! Remember that you now are a representative of your office and need to look the part as well. You could visit with the office manager about what is expected in your wardrobe at work. Before you do that, look around at the professionals in your office.

Like most professions, the clients must have absolute confidence in hiring your firm. If you look sloppy, it gives the appearance that the work will be sloppy. Try to be neat, clean, and polished. That means muted colors (navy, gray, black, white), well-fitting clothes (not tight), and clean (no pet hair, lint). If you look around in your office, you will see that there is no cleavage, no visible tattoos, no face piercings, and no sandals.

Dressing as a legal professional doesn’t take a lot of money, just some carefully chosen pieces that you can blend in to the wardrobe that you have. Start with a navy or black jacket, a skirt and slacks to match. These muted colors can be brightened with a colorful blouse, a colorful scarf, or a little jewelry. Choose your best color and try to find different shirts and blouses in your color to mix-and-match with your suit. Add in a cardigan and some gray, brown, or khaki slacks or skirts and you are done. Shoes need to be reasonable and cover the feet, such as black flats and black low heels. 

When you look good, you feel good and you will do good work too. Good luck in your new chosen profession. I’m sure you will do well.

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