NEW YORK (February 14, 2011) “Do as the Romans do!” So say some of our colleagues about the increasingly relaxed dress rules for lawyers. For women, especially, the unwritten rules of yore (requiring them to dress even more conservatively than men) have virtually collapsed, thanks to the potent impact of First Fashionista Michelle Obama and her cardigan sweater fans.
It is not so clear that a routine of business casual is the safest bet for an aspiring partner or a rising one for that matter, either when trotting off to a law firm beauty contest—no matter the dress of the potential client or even that of the firm’s 800 pound gorilla who will lead the charge –with a portfolio of ten million dollars of business in the left pocket of his cashmere blazer.
In informal interviews with more than 100 corporate counsels on lifestyle issues in the workplace, Eolis International Group has learned that a gray pinstripe suit, white shirt, and medium blue or burgundy tie for men, and a black or navy suit with a silk shell or blouse ensemble offends none of them but deviations from a strictly conservative uniform affects the evaluation of a pitch for business among nearly 10% of their ranks.
The reasons as well as the extent to which they express reservations—due to sartorial choices–are quite varied, but the idea that the prospective client should just deal with it can cost a representation.
Meetings deserve a conservative uniform unless there are compelling reasons (such as the host’s explicit request) otherwise. Why not minimize the possibility of causing a potential engagement that would otherwise fly to crater?