The Sartorial Lawyer — Part 2: Tips for Women

Professional Fashion Advice

Spring is finally here, and with it comes the annual challenge of dressing appropriately in warmer weather. Part 1 of our series focused on wardrobe tips for men, so today we’ll focus on women’s fashion. If you have your own advice (or horror stories), share them in the comments!

1) Scarves, scarves, scarves

Most women do not want to mess up their hair with a hat, so unless you have an unfussy ‘do, avoid hats when you head to the office. Instead, think scarves. This is a great way to add a pop of color and the highly-coveted floral pattern that is hot this spring.  Choose a lightweight scarf in an airy cotton or silk. Tie it around your neck, around your purse, or even around your wrist as a fabric bracelet. Pinterest is full of ideas on how to tie scarves. A large scarf can add warmth in spring’s unpredictable forecast, while a smaller scarf can serve as a hair tie or headband to hide a lunchtime workout.  The Gap and Banana Republic have a great selection of on-trend scarves, and if you want to splurge, buy Hermes. As with all fashion choices, the trendier the item, the less you should spend.

2) Suits and dresses

Part of this choice will depend on your office culture and practice areas.  Lighten up suits under the same guidelines as those set forth for men. If you’re wearing a dress or pairing separates, white, structured blazers are an excellent choice for spring. Nordstrom has several white blazers at reasonable prices in the POV department. The white blazer can also be a great coat to wear to spring weddings and events. If your office and practice permit dresses, the wrap dress is a great transitional piece. A real (versus faux) wrap dress will allow a little room for layering when the weather is not as lovely as one would hope. Diane Von Furstenberg is the queen of the wrap dress, but more affordable options are available. Shoot for jersey if the dress is less high-end, as it won’t wrinkle throughout the day. Floral patterns and prints are hot this spring, and a floral dress is a great option to work your wardrobe out of winter. Remember, a sundress is never a professional option, no matter what cardigan or blazer you pair with it.

3) Cardigans

Every professional woman should know that the cardigan is your best friend. Always have one with you or stored in your office. For changing temperatures, a cardigan is a godsend.  Choose a style you like and shoot for an airy knit for spring, or at least a brighter color. Fuchsia looks good on virtually every skin tone and can pair with most neutrals. Always think proportion with sweaters — if your dress is fitted, wear a boxier knit. If you are wearing spring’s on-trend wide-leg pant, a fitted and cropped-to-the-waist sweater is a better choice. As always, choose what works for your body, not just what works on the runway.

4) Tights and nylons

Robin is a nylon hater, but if you choose to (or are required to) wear them, make sure you have changed to a spring denier. Denier is a measurement of the density of fibers. A denier between 10 and 20 is a great spring weight and is sheer enough that if you cannot find the right skin tone match, it will be less noticeable. Always try to match your skin tone as closely as possible — do not buy nylons to try to create a tan. No one wants to have Oompa Loompa legs. If you don’t want nylons, but you do want some cover for your pale, Northwest winter legs, lightweight tights in open knits or bright colors are an option. If you are doing bright tights, skip the bright dress or cardigan. Nordstrom’s house brand has tons of options for tights and nylons that are inexpensive and on trend. If you want to spend a little more, look to Donna Karan or Wolford.  And always hand-wash or use a lingerie bag and wash on cold.

5 ) Shoes

The great spring debate is open-toed or not. This again depends on your office culture and your audience. Skip the open-toes in federal court. If you are going to wear open-toed shoes, do not wear toe-reinforced nylons and do not skip a pedicure. You need not have brightly polished toes, professionally buffed, but you do need clean and even toenails and most callouses tamed. While open-toed flats are available for purchase (cringe), open-toe works better in a heel or a wedge. For the high-heel-averse, a wedge is a great way to add height and still be able to walk in comfort. Wedges will be all over stores in spring and summer. Espadrilles, comfortable or not, are not office-ready, and open-toed does not mean “strappy gladiator boot.” A nude pump adds length to your legs and works with virtually all colors in dresses and skirts, but choose a nude that matches your skin tone and stick to open-toe. Always, always, always remember that if you cannot walk four city blocks in your shoes, the heel is too high.

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4 thoughts on “The Sartorial Lawyer — Part 2: Tips for Women

  1. Pingback: The Sartorial Lawyer – Part 3: Garment Care | NWSidebar

  2. Elizabeth Rene

    This has been MY experience of dressing as a lawyer:
    1) If I wear silk, my dog is sure to wipe his nose on it.
    2) If something says “dryclean only,” it’s probably due for the cleaners TODAY. So why do I buy it anyway?
    3) White blazers and red wine don’t mix.
    4) Skinning my stilettos in a sidewalk grating is no fun. I keep them in the office, and wear wedges or chunky heels for those four block hikes.
    5) Sore feet make me snappish. When I must be civil, I wear comfortable shoes. Sofft@ shoes are wonderful.
    6) I want extra pairs of hose in my desk drawer, in case the unthinkable happens.
    But here’s my fashion question. If I wear a cardigan instead of a blazer to the office, won’t Don Draper ask me for coffee?

  3. Pingback: The Sartorial Lawyer — Part 1: Tips for Men | NWSidebar

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