Welcome to Vault Law’s new feature: Fashion Fridays. Why so surprised? Everyone knows that after spending sixteen hours a day at the office, every lawyer gal’s best friend is Bloomingdales.com. What better way to fill the empty void than designer goods?
The legal world has plenty of unwritten etiquette rules. Strolling the legal catwalk isn’t as easy as throwing on your go-to black dress and whatever shoes you can grab . . . or is it? That’s what we’re going to figure out here on Fashion Fridays: which legal-fashion rules are real, which should be tossed, and which should be created. And don’t worry, guys, we’ll have plenty of posts for you too.
But today, we’re focusing on the lady lawyers and asking: must female attorneys always don stockings when wearing a skirt or dress, or is it OK to go bare-legged? As some one who had to wear tights for four years of high school, I find stockings to be somewhat tortuous. So when I have an opportunity to ditch panty-hose, I normally do (except in the frigid temperatures of late). But my bare-leg preference became complicated when I entered the legal world and had to decide whether it was appropriate or not to get leggy. Ultimately, I ended up ditching the stockings on regular work days after observing my firm’s environment and how others dressed. It looks like I’m not alone here—Margaret Davidson, Vault’s Manager of Editorial Research, thinks “you should wait to test the waters until you can get a sense of what is the norm within your own office."
When it came to client meetings, depositions, and court appearances, though, I pulled those suckers on. And while I was interviewing, stockings ruled. To be honest, I never fully understood what the difference was between my own legs and nude-colored stockings. But in professional situations, when I was unsure how others would perceive bare legs, I wore stockings. Gina Salamone, Vault’s Client Service Manager, agrees and thinks whether or not one should wear stockings depends “on the level of professionalism that is expected in each office, since every company is different.”
Taking a slightly different view, Mary Sotomayor, Vault’s Senior Graphic Designer, thinks the professional choice is to stick with stockings: “I think unless you’re in the retail world or a rock star, it’s a little unprofessional to wear a dress or skirt without stockings. Of course, it depends on the formality of your work environment, but as a rule of thumb I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
But maybe we should forget about what other people think and look to our own comfort and tastes. As Vault’s Associate Producer Cathryn Vandewater points out “even the most powerful women in corporate know they’ll look dated or out of touch with the orange-leg-thing going on. Anyone who needs a more conservative look should honestly just wear pants.” Still a fan of tights, though, Cathryn suggests “tights for winter, bare legs but skirt to-at-least-the-knee in the warmer months.”
So what’s the verdict? I agree that the decision should be based on your office culture. Once you figure out how conservative, formal, modern or laid-back your office is, you can decide whether or not you should slip on some stockings. And if you’re entering an unknown or formal setting (like court), I say to wear them because as Mary points out, it’s better to be safe. While wearing stockings is never mandatory, it’s not worth it to risk your professional reputation. Finally, if you do opt for stockings, Cathryn’s point is an important one: make sure they look good. Wear panty-hose that match your skin tone (or buy solid-colored tights), and don't wear stockings with runs or holes.
What’s your view on the stocking debate? Ditch em or wear em at the firm, an interview, court? Leave a comment below or connect with us on Twitter and weigh in.
Got some opinions on legal fashion? Are you a fashion guru who also happens to practice law? Vault Law wants to hear from you! Email Mary Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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