Dear Karen - Do you wear suits to trial, if not what's your typical "trialwear"
A male news anchor from Australia wore the same suit every day for a year - changing his shirt and tie - and no one noticed. He did this to prove a point after becoming frustrated with the constant criticisms levied by the public against his female co-anchor's appearance.
"No one has noticed; no one gives a s**t. But women, they wear the wrong colour and they get pulled up. Women are judged much more harshly and keenly for what they do, what they say and what they wear."
I am pragmatic in dealing with this kind of double standard.
My top priority is my client. I have to do everything in my power to put their interests first. If jurors or judges are going to have inherent biases against me based on appearance, it is my j.o.b. to do my best to make sure these biases are neutralized one way or the other.
I choose not to spend my time railing against the unfairness of stereotypical gender based clothing differences in the legal profession. Instead, I focus on the positives:
1. The stereotype of the "shark" lawyer that our public dislikes - is a white male in a suit and tie carrying a briefcase. I will never look like that and am not so quickly type cast.
2. The "male suit" looks formal and harsh, like a coat of armor, unless you are wearing seer sucker or linen which pretty much never happens in the Pacific NW.
3. The differences between a gray, black and dark blue "male suit" - are negligible. You will always look the same. This is why Mr. Australia Anchorman got away with his one suit year.
4. Remember what the people of China looked like when Mao ruled. I'm American and value individuality. I don't want to look like a prototype.
5. We won our independence from Britain in 1776 and created a superior civil justice system that includes the right to trial by a jury of our peers. We don't have to wear uniforms of powdered wigs and black capes. We are free of that.
6. Sometimes I want to look like Power Woman. Sometimes I want to look Gentle (which contrasts nicely if I am doing a hard cross of an expert). Sometimes I simply want to look the opposite of what the defense lawyers look like. I want to be able to harness every ounce of persuasive ability that I can muster. And that includes my visual appearance.
So the answer to the young lawyer who asked me the question of what is my typical trial wear is this:
I am formal but not overly so. I always wear a jacket but it may range from a tailored black button down Hugo Boss, to a swingy three quarter length wide sleeve, from buttons to snaps, collars to no collars. Labels to H&M. I wear a lot of skirts. A line is too confining. Typically above the knee, but there are a few longer ones. I have only a few true suits and they are all more than 10 years old. Everything is mix and match. Just gave away my last white button down shirts because never wore them. Like soft cotton or silk shirts. Dresses too. I don't wear a lot of pants, but will. I am a blue jean/legging person and don't care for slacks as much. No tan colored nylons. Black tights in the winter and lots of lotion in the summer.
Finally, I mainly wear black and some gray. For a few years, I tried to go lighter. But black is my favorite color. Plus everything matches which makes it easier to throw things together.