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Suits for Women


mirrorball
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mirrorball
  • Law Student

Hi everyone, 

I was hoping to revive the suits for women thread from the old forum as I could use the wisdom!

I will be starting law school in the fall, and with malls opening, I'm shopping around for my first formal suit for this upcoming year. As this would be the foundation to my professional wardrobe, I'm looking to start off with a basic black pant suit comprised of versatile pieces that can mix and match but will look conservative for interviews when worn as a set. However, I am having trouble with the pants. A lot of styles right now are cropped, a style I really like, but I'm not sure if these would be appropriate. Are cropped pants considered formal/conservative enough for law interviews? Do cropped pants look weird in the winter?

Thanks for any advice! 

Edit: It's cool if others post questions about women's fashion in this thread too, like the last one. 

Edited by mirrorball
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PePeHalpert
  • Lawyer

Cropped pants are totally appropriate - they are my go to!  I think they look great year round. In the winter they look great with an ankle boot, although I wouldn't recommend wearing boots to an interview.  But, you can get long term wear out of them. 

I like Massimo Dutti for women's suits.  More expensive than something like Zara, but better materials and construction and still within reach. 

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mirrorball
  • Law Student
11 hours ago, PePeHalpert said:

Cropped pants are totally appropriate - they are my go to!  I think they look great year round. In the winter they look great with an ankle boot, although I wouldn't recommend wearing boots to an interview.  But, you can get long term wear out of them. 

I like Massimo Dutti for women's suits.  More expensive than something like Zara, but better materials and construction and still within reach. 

Oh that is great to hear! And thanks so much for the recommendation. That is exactly the style and price range I was looking into.

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BuckDancer
  • Lawyer

Another very specific recommendation is the Borrem Suit from Club Monaco. It often goes on sale in the summer. The pant is more or less cropped depending on your height so if you are like 5'8+ it might be too cropped for the winter. I have the suit in Black and Blue and find it very flattering, comfortable, and just the right mix of fashionable and formal.

During the last in-person student recruit I interviewed a student in the suit and it looked sharp. 

As a general recommendation, the Borrem pants are a great versatile everyday office pant option for those who are on the shorter side! 

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Dee
  • Applicant
On 7/19/2021 at 5:59 PM, mirrorball said:

Hi everyone, 

I was hoping to revive the suits for women thread from the old forum as I could use the wisdom!

I will be starting law school in the fall, and with malls opening, I'm shopping around for my first formal suit for this upcoming year. As this would be the foundation to my professional wardrobe, I'm looking to start off with a basic black pant suit comprised of versatile pieces that can mix and match but will look conservative for interviews when worn as a set. However, I am having trouble with the pants. A lot of styles right now are cropped, a style I really like, but I'm not sure if these would be appropriate. Are cropped pants considered formal/conservative enough for law interviews? Do cropped pants look weird in the winter?

Thanks for any advice! 

Edit: It's cool if others post questions about women's fashion in this thread too, like the last one. 

I *cannot* wait until I go clothes shopping for law school! Excited for you and wishing you all the best!!

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  • 2 weeks later...
OntheVerge
  • Lawyer

A skirt suit is a good option. I personally cannot find a good pair of suit pants or dress pants that fit well and look good, so I gave up. I bought one skirt suit for law school (dark blue, not navy) and a grey blazer that goes well with the skirt, which gave me essentially three outfits. I used the full suit for interviews and whenever else needed to look as business-like as possible. I wore the skirt and grey blazer for more informal events. And then I could pair the blazer with dark pants (not jeans) for an even more casual look. That got me through law school just fine.

For articling, I bought another skirt suit (dark grey) and some separates that I could mix and match, like a black skirt and a more casual blazer. I ended up articling in a position that meant going to court a lot, so I kept my wardrobe fairly conservative in neutral colours. That allowed me to combine pieces without clashing and still look professional, so I had two full suits plus 5-6 different combinations of skirt + blazer to get me through articling and going to court almost every day. 

Now that I'm a solicitor, my wardrobe has definitely gotten less conservative (i.e. more fun colours) but still professional, as I meet with clients every day. 

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SoIWantToBeALawyer
  • Law Student

is mixing and matching blazers and pants considered unprofessional or informal? For example, plaid dress pants and a black blazer or black dress pants and grey blazer. 

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cherrytree
  • Articling Student
1 hour ago, SoIWantToBeALawyer said:

is mixing and matching blazers and pants considered unprofessional or informal? For example, plaid dress pants and a black blazer or black dress pants and grey blazer. 

I wouldn't wear different coloured/patterned top and bottom to court or to an interview, but to a cocktail reception or a coffee chat, sure.

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OntheVerge
  • Lawyer
19 hours ago, SoIWantToBeALawyer said:

is mixing and matching blazers and pants considered unprofessional or informal? For example, plaid dress pants and a black blazer or black dress pants and grey blazer. 

It's not "unprofessional" but it's definitely less formal than a matching suit. As cherrytree said, you wouldn't want to mix and match at an interview and you have to be careful about it doing so at court, as well. Keep in mind that patterns, particularly plaid (unless subtle), can be perceived as less formal than solid pieces. 

Personally, since I was at court 4-5 days a week as an articling student and couldn't afford more than 2 suits at first, I really had to be careful when mixing and matching. Darker colours, good fit, and making sure hair, make-up, shoes, and accessories were on point, helped keep the look on the more professional and less casual side. 

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Speaking of Court, to a degree you earn your informality. If a fifteen year Call with a respected practise shows up in dark trousers, a blazer, and a colourful shirt they're getting a lot more leeway in everyone's eyes than some nobody with three months under their belt. So you might be annoyed that Madam Crown is wearing a jacket over what is quite obviously a sundress but when you've been running bail court for 23 years maybe you can wear a sundress too.

Don't make the mistake of assuming it's rules for all. As with every walk of life, there are rules for me and rules for thee. Know your place and dress more formally when in doubt. And your first five years or so will be filled with doubt.

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realpseudonym
  • Lawyer
38 minutes ago, Hegdis said:

when you've been running bail court for 23 years maybe you can wear a sundress too.

#careergoals

Dress Twirl GIF

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  • ZineZ pinned this topic
  • 2 weeks later...
OntheVerge
  • Lawyer

One more tip for this thread: If anyone is looking for a suit skirt or a dress that has a split up the back, make sure that the split on the skirt isn't going up so high that you need to be worried about accidentally mooning anyone (or worse) when walking, going up stairs, or bending over to pick something up. It's sometimes hard to tell, especially if you're not moving, so it helps to have a second pair of eyes. It seems to be an issue in particular for high waisted pencil skirts, so just an FYI.

Also, this may seem obvious, but if there is an "X" stitched into the back of the split near the hem, you need to remove the "X" and then do the split test to make sure it's not dangerously high. 

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PePeHalpert
  • Lawyer
15 hours ago, OntheVerge said:

Also, this may seem obvious, but if there is an "X" stitched into the back of the split near the hem, you need to remove the "X" and then do the split test to make sure it's not dangerously high. 

Yes, and remove it from the back slit of your blazers and jackets as well!  And while you're at it, open the seams for your jacket pockets.  The amount of times I've gone to stick a business card in the pocket of a new blazer as I am running out the door to a meeting only to find it is still sewed shut... 

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abogada
  • Lawyer

I don't know where else to post this, but since a lot of us are returning to the office after working from home, is anyone else dreading wearing full work outfits? I've gotten so used to wearing shorts/sweatpants and tank tops and then throwing on a blazer whenever I have a zoom meeting. The thought of going back to wearing actual pants/skirts and -ugh- heels, is nauseating. Not to mention due to covid weight gain, my suits pants are fitting a little snug these days.

Any tips to maximize comfort but still look put together? What brands make the most comfortable business clothes?

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OntheVerge
  • Lawyer

My go-to for comfort, especially when it's post-holiday and my clothes are a bit snugger than is comfortable, is to go for the classic dress and blazer combo. I find dresses on the whole to be much more comfortable (no buttons or tight waistbands), generally more forgiving, but also inexplicably more professional than pants/skirts. I have a few sheath dresses in a material that is somewhat stretchy and a few faux-wrap dresses (for strictly office days with no client meetings) as they're not only comfortable, but easy - no having to think about coordinating pieces. 

For shoes, I've been wearing flats/very low heels all summer with no-show sock/liners. Rockport, clarks, cobb hill, and ecco are my go-to brands. I did buy a pair of Anne Klein "sport" flats which are okay, but not as comfortable as the other brands. 

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OntheVerge
  • Lawyer

Adding to this topic, just for the sake of conversation and in the hopes this might be helpful to those wanting to develop a wardrobe and have fun with it:

 I'm very happy when fall colours return to clothing lines every year. I made sure the base of my wardrobe (i.e. suits and skirts) consisted of mostly neutral colours like black, dark grey, navy so they're less likely to fall in and out of style and can be worn for years, and thus worth the investment. However, I like to add punch to my wardrobe now by I dressing for the season, colour-wise, though, and I do that by updating blouses and shirts. I tend to buy cheaper blouses for this purpose, so I don't feel bad for only wearing them 1-2 seasons out of the year. And I can more easily replace them since they're also the pieces that get washed more often and break down sooner.

So for spring/summer I have tops in the following colours: pale pink, coral, french blue, and a few florals. For fall/winter: deep purple, red, burgundy, emerald green, and camel. I prefer the richer autumn colours, so am loving all the options right now! The pastel hues for spring clothes are not flattering to me, so I almost never buy clothes until autumn.

I'll put in a disclaimer that when funds were tighter as an articling student, I definitely focused more on neutral colours for tops. I still have blouses that are a bit more "serious" like the classic white, navy, or white and blue striped. There's always a lot of focus on how to dress professionally and look as polished as possible, but it's important to remember that there's still room to have fun and love your outfit even in the most conservative areas of law.

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  • 4 weeks later...
law
  • Law Student

I am wondering what I should wear as a female for a virtual OCI? Do my jacket and shirt need to be fitted? Can I wear casual dress pants? Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

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ZineZ
  • Lawyer
12 minutes ago, law said:

I am wondering what I should wear as a female for a virtual OCI? Do my jacket and shirt need to be fitted? Can I wear casual dress pants? Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

Moved this post to here. Thought it may be helpful! 

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cherrytree
  • Articling Student
3 hours ago, law said:

I am wondering what I should wear as a female for a virtual OCI? Do my jacket and shirt need to be fitted? Can I wear casual dress pants? Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

You have a great username that will age like wine

I would make sure your suit jacket and your shirt fit you well, yes. Wearing ill-fitting clothes probably doesn't set you up for being your most relaxed, comfortable self at the interview. I'm not sure how "casual" your "casual dress" pants are, but make sure they are comfortable, fit you well and not obviously mismatched with what you are wearing on top, in case you have to stand up in front of the webcam when your interviewers can still see you.

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law
  • Law Student
25 minutes ago, cherrytree said:

You have a great username that will age like wine

I would make sure your suit jacket and your shirt fit you well, yes. Wearing ill-fitting clothes probably doesn't set you up for being your most relaxed, comfortable self at the interview. I'm not sure how "casual" your "casual dress" pants are, but make sure they are comfortable, fit you well and not obviously mismatched with what you are wearing on top, in case you have to stand up in front of the webcam when your interviewers can still see you.

Haha I'm clearly not too creative 😂  Thanks for the advice!!

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penguin
  • Law Student

Should we stick to a black blazer for OCIs? Or are coloured blazers fine if we wear a white collared shirt inside? 

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PePeHalpert
  • Lawyer
1 hour ago, penguin said:

Should we stick to a black blazer for OCIs? Or are coloured blazers fine if we wear a white collared shirt inside? 

I think coloured blazers are fine as long as you style them professionally.  I am personally a fan of having a pop of colour or some other (professional) statement piece that makes you memorable. 

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  • 1 month later...
OntheVerge
  • Lawyer

Staying Warm in Winter

This may be less of an issue now with more people working from home but I thought maybe some quick tips on battling how to look professional but keep warm in the winter would be useful, especially if your job requires a lot of leg work. I know when I was articling downtown TO, my articling days involved a lot of walking/running through cold, slushy, salty, roads and sidewalks and a lot of wind, snow, sleet. Here are some my tips:

1. A good pair of boots that also look dressy are essential. I kept some pumps at my desk and commuted to and from in my boots, as well as when I had to go outside. If going to court, I had a little bag with my pumps so I could swap in and out once I arrived. The boots could be chelsea boots, booties, knee-high boots, whatever you prefer. Look for fleece lined or insulated boots to help keep your feet warm. If you're going with leather, protect the heck of out them to prevent salt damage. Spray them, give them a quick wipe down after you get inside, and oil them frequently. I preferred a faux fur edging that helped keep any snow, salt, or splashes from getting down into the  boots and onto my feet. I also had two pairs that served this purpose: one pair was a knee-high, leather, faux fur cuff that I wore in very inclement weather, the second pair was a pair of not- quite waterproof chelsea booties in black patent that kept my feet warm and drier than pumps/flats, but also in a pinch, were appropriate for court. I alternated between the boots depending on the situation. 

2. Gloves. A nice pair of gloves looks great, keeps the look polished (no sticking your bare hands in your pockets, or worse, your sleeves) and keeps your hands warm. I prefer insulated or lined leather or faux leather because they have a better grip on anything you might be carrying, like files, boxes, coffee, etc. Black is classic and goes with almost any colour jacket (love the look with a grey coat especially), and I also have a pair of dark brown (for a navy coat), and red plaid (for fun). Keep an extra pair in your purse or car.

3. Coats/jackets. I personally prefer knee-length wool jackets over puffy parkas, but this is very situation dependent. I have found that good quality wool jackets are incredibly warmer than wool blends but their price tag often reflects that. If you prefer a parka, try to avoid any that look like ski jackets if possible. Knee-length will help keep you warmer than shorter jackets. Subdued colours also help keep the look more professional but that doesn't mean you're limited to black, grey or navy. Jewel tones look great! I've seen dark green, deep purple, indigo, and the classic camel on lots of websites this season. For articling, I had a grey wool jacket and a grey slim fitting parka as they looked good with any colour suit underneath and any colour of gloves/boots. I'd typically pair either jacket with bright scarf for a pop of colour and keep boots/gloves neutral. When you're just starting out, I'd recommend investing in more neutral colours because they'll get you through more situations. Once your wardrobe has built up, then definitely expand in the brighter colours that maybe you can only wear once or twice a week. I have my eye on a deep red trench coat that might be a Christmas present to myself!

I'll end my novel here but hopefully some people find this helpful.

 

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azure
  • Lawyer

@OntheVerge this is excellent! I'm going to bandwagon on your post and add some tips for us West Coasters who are currently in the middle of several atmospheric rivers and what seems like a never ending downpour. If you are new to the West Coast, while we do get a bit of snow, we mainly have several months of rain throughout the winter months. 

- Invest in a good quality, large umbrella. Actually buy two, keep one in the office and one at home. Keep a travel umbrella in your bag/purse for when you are in a pinch, but these don't often do the trick in heavy rain. You can never have enough umbrellas. 

- On the boots side, invest in good quality rain boots. The go-to here seems to be the Hunter knee-high boots. Chelsea boots work ok, but not good in big puddles. Same thing as @OntheVerge said, I keep a shoe wardrobe at the office and change when I get here, or keep a pair of flats in my bag that I can change into. 

- On the jacket side, honestly, waterproof should be your first concern, and I would tend to favour function over fashion in this respect, though there are some fashionable rain jackets out there. A nice waterproof trench coat works well; Eddie Bauer and Lululemon have some good choices. I live having a looser fit so you can wear a sweater or thin puffer underneath for those cooler days. In terms of colour, I will say that if you are doing a lot of walking, I recommend a brighter or lighter colour jacket, since it is darker in the winter with a lot of rain, and it can be hard for drivers to see people wearing all black. Or invest in one of those flashing lights to put on your bag (sounds dorky but it could save you getting hit by a car). 

- Tangentially, two words: waterproof mascara. 

 

 

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