Sunday, November 15, 2009

Style diktats for Lawyers (a continuing series)

A fashion icon: Jim Traficant, former Youngstown, Ohio Sheriff, Congressman is the only self-represented RICO defendant to obtain a federal jury acquittal.

As a bit of a fashionista, myself I love returning to contemplate the zen, which is Jim Traficant in denim (with gym bag.)  Will lawyers ever again rise to such fashion heights?  I don't think so.  Then again, Sheriff Jim was not a lawyer, as his second criminal trial and lengthy incarceration proved.

But can we talk about lawyer fashions?

Lawyers should dress well.  Actually, dressing well is an important function of a lawyer.  Many faux pas are forgiven the well-dressed lawyer.  Clients appreciate it whether they know it or not.  Dressing well can be done simply without too much expense.

Grandmas, and Moms of my generation advised granddaughter and daughters to look for good and well-shined shoes in the boyfriends and men their offspring dated.

Believe me, my friends, if on a given day, I have money enough for either a shoe shine or lunch, I ask myself, "how hungry are you?"  A great shoe shine, from a pro is worth more than any anti-depressant I've ever taken.  I have lots of shoes, but the best shoes I have I acquired after talking to the best shoe shine guy I know.  I asked him what are the best shoes he shines, his answer, Allen-Edmonds.  He's right, these shoes are beautiful, comfortable, and after you walk through the soles, or they begin to look dinged up, for less than the price of cheap pair of dress shoes, Allen-Edmonds people restore them for you.   Being a veteran, I know how to shine my own shoes, keep your shoes on shoe trees and keep 'em shined!  Don't wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row, even if you don't perspire a lot, the inside and the outside of the shoe needs to dry out.  In the winter, avoid "rubbers" they destroy the finish of shoes, if salt and snow are an issue, bring your dress shoes in your brief case and change into them.

Socks.  Fer chrissakes! throw away socks with holes in 'em.  Socks should not draw attention themselves.  I tried a case one time where the defense witless, er, witness was a Kmart vice president for human resources. He was rocking some silk numbers that actually attracted attention and said, "I'm a narcissitic asshole who never shopped a Blue Light Special, in his pathetic life."  That was years ago, and a jury knocked this guy's socks off--to this day when I see opposing counsel we talk about how awful his witness was; and, I kid you not a big part of it was this guy's socks.    Dark socks, folks.  Black shoes, black socks, brown shoes, subdued socks.

Suits.  Okay, here's a big life lesson--go see a pro.  Avoid the "wearhouses" and department stores unless you truly are a perfect name-the-size.  If you can get a wad of money together, go to Brooks Brothers--make friends with a salesman with a lot of time in stripe.  Even if you can afford to go only once a year, a well fit conservative suit made with great fabric will repay you.  Don't fool around, at least initially, get the classics--as your wardrobe comes together, buy seasonal weights.  A good move, at the outset classic blazers  terrific slacks, and a great pinstriped 4 season charcoal suit with black wingtips and penny loafers.  Then bit by bit, add a great suit.

We will resume with a discussion of shirts when we revisit the subject.


  1. I've seen a law student here who shaves half her head. I have a feeling that maybe, just maybe, clients might not like it. Better than the one that always has leaves in his hair.

    By the way, you just got a blog award!

  2. Hey, Kate, I'm so honored!

    So you need to tell your fellow students to get on the skinny, and discuss wardrobe on my blawg. There is much that needs to be cracked upon about fashion and lawyers. I look forward to your insights.