With today’s Melbourne Cup celebrations, it’s apparent that dressing for success can make a major difference in any young lawyer’s career. It shows an eye for detail and respect for the workplace that employers and colleagues alike will value. However, the process of filling one’s wardrobe with designer clothes can be a costly one – especially for early-career lawyers.
Fortunately, you don’t need to earn a partner’s salary to look your best. Brianna McDougall of the Instagram @Lawyersfashion – family lawyer by day, fashion blogger by night – shared some tips with Insights on how to rock a champagne style on a first year budget.
Starting your corporate wardrobe
“Corporate clothing can be expensive and it is important to ‘invest’ in good quality pieces that you will have for years,” McDougall said.
“I recommend new graduate lawyers purchase good quality basics such as a black skirt and blazer for women, or a black or charcoal suit for men, and team them with more affordable tops and shirts.”
Finding high-quality outfits at low prices can be easier said than done. However, McDougall suggests shopping for wardrobe basics halfway through each season.
“You can find some amazing basic pieces at the mid-season sales,” she said.
“Target also has some great basic dresses and shirts which can be mixed and matched with better quality blazers and skirts.”
“You should shop during sales and go to the shops with an idea/list of what items you would like to purchase. It is important to consider how new purchases can be worn with existing clothes in your wardrobe.”
As thrifty shopping is the aim of the game, McDougall advises young lawyers to be shrewd when making large purchases.
“If you really love an item, you can layby it to give yourself time more time save for those extra special pieces,” McDougall said.
To save money after the purchase, McDougall recommends clothes that can be washed in-house.
“As a helpful tip, I always look for items that can be hand washed or machine-washed,” she said.
“You don’t want to spend lots of money having a constantly dry clean a shirt.”
Accessorising for your corporate wardrobe
During the early stages of one’s career, it can be difficult to keep attire costs low while still maintaining high fashion standards. To this end, McDougall says accessories can make all the difference.
“You can add personal style to your outfits through your accessories,” she said.
For women, McDougall suggests a handbag or document carry bag; a leather compendium; simple jewelry; a laptop or phone cover; a variety of belts; simple, understated nail polish and makeup; and high heels or flats with detailing like an ankle strap.
For men, McDougall stresses that it’s all about the tie and shirt combination.
“You can also mix and match different shoes and belts with your suit,” she said.
“Navy and grey suits can go with either black or brown leather, but make sure the belt and shoes match. A nice leather carry bag or compendium looks great for out of office meetings and Court.”
Finding the right shoes for Court
While sharp black or brown leather shoes will carry most young male lawyers through Court, McDougall advises women to give the issue more thought.
“It is preferable to wear closed in high heels to Court,” she said.
“Platform shoes and open toe heels are generally not appropriate for Court. In saying that, I believe it is acceptable to wear open toe heels in the office in warmer months. It seems obvious, but shoes must look clean and in good condition.”
“If you cannot wear high heels, I recommend a patent leather pair of flats to wear to Court and in the office.”