I’ve never been one for formal. Or suits. I’m still not quite sure what fork to use at fancy events. I detest having to wear heels. I feel a bit awkward around a bunch of strangers who think (and probably are right) they are smarter than me. That being said, the legal field was probably not the best place for me! My first suit was purchased my senior year in college. From Pinky’s (think, Forever 21). My suits since there were from the same kind of discount stores or Target. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, but they’re not quite “power” suits. I didn’t get one of those until my second year in law school, when Katie and I had one of our ADR competitions. I was surprised at how much of a difference it made, even if it was just to me personally. I felt more comfortable, like my fellow law students and attorneys weren’t judging me for wearing a $40 suit.
I remember working with a non profit attorney for one of my volunteer opportunities, and going to her office for a meeting to review the work I had been doing. She was wearing a super cute skirt, flats, and a cardigan sweater over her shirt. Cue the chimes and angels coming out of heavenly clouds. (Sidenote: it just took me two minutes to remember what those white things in the sky are called. Clouds. They’re called clouds. Go me.) That’s the kind of attorney I want to be. The one that’s comfortable with whatever she wears, and who doesn’t let a power suit define her intelligence or her comfort. And who works in a field where it’s ok.
I’ve been testing these boundaries at work lately. I don’t have to go to court much anymore, so there’s no need for a full suit, but definitely business casual attire. I’ve been wearing my flats and skirts every now and then, and I cherish those days. I should be clear: what I love about these outfits is that you accessorize them, and they become quite fancy, not totally casual. AND, I would never dream of wearing this to court. I would not want to appear before a judge in anything less than full attorney-combat attire. Anyhow, a couple weeks ago I had to attend a continuing legal education course for attorneys. I woke up that morning knowing exactly where I had to go in the evening. Knowing that I would be surrounding by individuals in their power suits, briefcases and high heels. I went to my closet…and decided it was going to be one of my cherished days. I went for the skirt and flats, black cardigan. This was my moment of rebellion. No power suit for me. Not gonna lie…I was proud of myself the whole day at work for making whatever assertion I thought I was making. Even parking my car outside the venue. Even walking through registration. At this point, I could already feel everyone looking at me like I was crazy. It didn’t help that my co-worker had saved me a seat…at the very front…right next to the beloved panel speakers…including a judge. I think the worst was having to make the small talk as five of us waited for the waiters to refill the coffee. I was waiting for them to ask: “So….did you forget you were coming here tonight?” Rebellion. Failure.
I’m still confused. I know I don’t need clothing to tell me who I am, but what if it’s just part of the gig? Was I disrespecting all attorneys present by wearing what I wanted? Am I a disgrace to attorneys everywhere? haha, I gotta laugh at that one, mostly because I don’t know that I would care much if I was. I would be embarrassed, but that’s about it. I think it’s easier to get away with more comfortable clothing in a non profit sector then say…bankruptcy law…but at least I tried. For one day…I stood my ground.