Monday, November 23, 2009

Style Diktats for Lawyers--Shirt's, Ties, and more

If it's Jimmy T, it must be time for Fashion for Lawyers!  Former Congressman Traficant so nailed the whole fashion thing that adding words seems superfluous. 

The photo really does not do justice to the sheer awfulness of what's going on with Traficant-style.  Let's begin with the fact that the only natural fiber in the whole ensemble are his eyebrows and maybe some of the sideburn action.  That he was able to get his customary double-knit in a dark color is surprising to me.  But I'm not here to praise Jimmy's suits or his toupee, but instead I'm here to bury the shirt and the 70s wedding singer ties.

As your Bad Lawyer and fashion guide, I will grant great latitude to shirt and tie choices.  But there must be some standards--the shirt at left is an excellent choice, Hathaway, Arrow, this happens to be a Perry Ellis, it does not matter.  It is traditional.  It is clean and pressed.  As a rule I believe with a classic suit your collar should not be button down, I personally believe that while button down shirts are acceptable, they should only be worn with a blazer and slacks.  I like French cuffs, but they are extra work on those bleary mornings following a late night in the coal mines, and an expense for young lawyers on a budget.  Likewise, I have many custom made shirts all monogrammed BAD--these are magnificent but expensive. In reality there is one absolute rule:  Men: wear a goddamn t-shirt underneath, noone wants to see your torso, noone wants to think about your manboobies, noone wants to smell your manly musk.

Your shirts and blouses do not have to be white, and far too often I see lawyers whose shirts were once white and should have long since been consigned to the dustbins of history.   Respect yourself, folks, when the shirt cuffs and collar begin to fray toss it.  Oh, one word of advice on care:  wear it once, launder, wear it again, launder, repeat...your shirts will last infinitely longer if you launder it.  You will smell so much better if you launder it.  A shirt looks better in my opinion if you have it professionally done, with light starch.   Find a good dry cleaner, make the investment in keeping yourself well groomed.

Ties are a philosophical inquiry unto itself.  The Tie is a gift to mankind from the muses, how can you screw it up?  Look at Jimbo, (above).  In this day and age there is no excuse for not learning how to tie a Tie.  Do not cry to Bad Lawyer, "Bad Lawyer, I was an orphan...I had no Daddy to teach me how to tie my tie, bbbwwwaaaaahhhhhh!"  Suck it up, young lawyer.  In this day and age instruction is a click away:

I leave it to you to screw up tie selection. I myself like traditional tie patterns, stripes, and colors. I won't wear yellow ties after labor day, or before memorial day as I consider that a spring, summer look and I personally avoid faddish ties...can you say, Jerry Garcia? I don't wear light colored ties on dark shirts (in fact I don't wear dark dress shirts.) I love striped shirts but matching a ties with stripes and a suit should not be done by the colored-impaired.

There is much more to be said on this topic. We shall return to lawyer fashions, dos and don'ts, often.


  1. But what of legal fashion for the fairer sex?

  2. Kate

    I've asked a female lawyer pal o' mine, to guest blawg on the subject! See, I'm already thinking about the subject. Thanks for holding my feet to the fire.

  3. I love these posts. I get dressed in a rush and rarely take the time to "be fashionable." My main concern is that I am, in fact, wearing the same color shoes.

    Three questions:
    1) Two button suit or three button?
    2) Compound question! Are there more hard and fast rules that you know? e.g. never wear a darker color shirt than your suit, what color of shoes go with non-black or dark blue suits, tie stripe to shirt stripe issues, etc. etc. (I made up the first example. )
    3) pant cuffs or no cuffs?


  4. R-man

    I intend to visit these very questions, but short answers:

    1) I like 2-button suits, 3-button suits are faddish and I avoid the fads (think ex-jocks);

    2) There are, pretty definite, rules, but remember knowing the rules allows you to break them tastefully, black shoes and traditional suits are never wrong, slip-ons/loafers (all colors) with slacks and blazers, brown wing tips with dark blue suits works for some strange reason. With shoes the main rule is keep 'em clean and shined.

    3) All my dress pant have at least a 1" cuff.

    One of the things that screams, poorly dressed is fit. The sleeves should be proper length (see the awesome cut of my suit in the banner-graph), this is true for suit and shirt. Also pant length--let a professional tailor do this for you.

  5. Don't forget collar ties... nothing worse than a rolled up collar tip... and, by all means, your socks should match the color of your slacks... Vests? Although I never preferred them, they do seem to be making somewhat of a comeback, but only with classic patterns that match the suit... And every bad lawyer should have a classic blue blazer in their repertoire... with classic gold buttons... looks great with jeans! Though, never in court, I'm sure!

  6. Oh, and Bad Lawyer, he's a fashion virtuoso... I can attest!

  7. A good suit for a lawyer is vital to look professional I think. I have various colours of suits and various colours of striped shirts but it is sometimes a struggle picking the correct ones!

  8. Dressing with striped shirts need not be a problem, my advice is to lay out your suit, shirt and ties the day before, in the daylight if at all possible. When doing striped shirts avoid striped ties, at least until you have your colors and contrasts nailed down. I really think a good technique is to master contrasting colors and textures. For instance, tomorrow I'm wearing a charcoal, very conservative pinstripe suit, white shirt with french cuffs, but a very bold red print tie, Black cap toe oxfords.

    Bear in mind if you screw up a look, so what--switch it out next time.

  9. Those are some great tips to look a lot better! I always have some trouble choosing ties, especially because I feel that they all look so great it is hard to choose between one or the other. Can you help?

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  11. It's "shirts" for the plural of "shirt," not "shirt's," which would be the possessive.