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The Back-up Plan

 
As part of an ongoing effort to demonstrate that I occasionally wear Business Attire (as opposed to Business Casual), I bring you another suit.

 
This suit came from Nanette Lepore a few years ago. For those interested in fit, which can be particularly tricky with suits, here is what I remember.
 
First, I think I bought the jacket and pants in different sizes. If I am remembering correctly, the pants are a 6 and the jacket is a 4.
 
If you are wondering why I can’t just go look at the tags . . . the pants were not lined, so I had them lined and the tag is now gone. Lining a pair of pants can be a pricey undertaking, so you may want to consult with more than one tailor before committing. You may also want to entrust this task to a less-skilled tailor because as long as the lining is smooth, it doesn’t matter how beautifully it’s finished.
 
One more thing, I think I had shoulder pads removed and the shoulder re-set for a smoother look.
Lawyered up

Lawyered up


Are you wondering where I wear this suit?
 
I’ve worn it for depositions and client meetings. I’ve also worn it to court to handle a hearing. But I offer the following caveats on that court appearance: (1) the court was in Seattle and the West Coast is less staid than the East Coast; it just is (2) I had already had a substantial, and successful, appearance in front of the judge, wearing a dark suit and non-Hawaiian print blouse; (3) I am a partner in my firm. If any of those three conditions had not been in place, I would have worn a white, grey, or black blouse.
 
You didn't really wear this to court, did you?

You didn’t really wear this to court, did you?

Oh yes I did

Oh yes I did


 
Here are a few of the details, up close.
 
Pinstripes go this way . . . and then that way

Pinstripes go this way . . . and then that way

Lively blouse

Lively blouse


Micro pockets should probably be surgically closed

Micro pockets should probably be surgically closed

Back vent is actually a kick-pleat

Vent is actually a kick-pleat


 
 
The suit, on its own, is actually pretty classic. It’s only the blouse that is unconventional. So when I am appearing in circumstances that warrant a more conventional appearance, I wear it with a black blouse.
Everyone stay calm

Everyone stay calm


 
Totally normal

Totally normal

 
 
 
Who wouldn’t want to be represented by this woman?

And just to be clear: I love Seattle. It’s a beautiful, friendly city of many enchantments including, but not limited to: the working docks, Serious Pie, Belle Epicurian Bakery, the public library by Rem Koolhaas, a Margaret O’Leary store, and the Nordstrom Mother-ship! I just think that Washington, Oregon, and California are a little more relaxed about traditional suiting (i.e., black or navy suit, white shirt) than New York and D.C. Do others agree?

Suit and floral blouse: Nanette Lepore; Black blouse: JCrew; Shoes: French Sole New York; Bracelets: David Yurman; Watch: Michele CSX

10 thoughts on “The Back-up Plan

    • I am not comfortable walking in heels; I walk really slowly and really unnaturally in them. Think of a giraffe wearing Romper Stompers on ice. I actually remember the last time I wore a pair of proper heels. I think it was 2001. I took a taxi to the federal courthouse with my boss, but after our hearing he suggested walking back to the office. It was only 10 blocks; I lasted for maybe 5 and then had to tell him to go on without me.

  1. Just wondering: Would judges actively comment on the attire of a lawyer appearing before them? If one disapproved of a non-white/black/gray blouse, would that judge take it out on the lawyer somehow? And would a bright blouse be considered the first step down the slippery slope to wearing see-through long dresses and six-inch heels while examining witnesses . . .? (Written from my home office, where I am wearing a T-shirt, soft pants, and fuzzy socks for a very long day of work.)

    • Every once in a while a story circulates in the legal press about a judge chastising a lawyer for his/her dress, but it’s always because one of the parties (the judge or the lawyer) is really inappropriate — e.g., a male lawyer refusing to wear socks (in repeated appearances, after being warned) or a judge expressing unenlightened views about “the modern woman.” But a smart approach is to: (a) dress in a manner that is respectful of the forum and (b) not wear anything that might be a distraction.

  2. Loving the suit in both iterations — once again, you are a great source for work place ideas. For me the difference would be less in the brightness of one blouse vs another than the compulsion to tuck it in — I love the flowy look but in formal settings I always tuck in, not sure why. That being said, I have not appeared in court since I was a junior associate and realized I was not cut out for litigation, AT ALL. I went to law school in DC and think it is an exceptionally stuffy/suity sort of place – The Directrice being a welcome relief from all that! I have not lived in NYC, but my sense is that even in formal, legal situations, there is more of a focus on fit and style in that city. Up here in Boston we have an exceptionally academic fashion profile — which I mostly love because it’s a bit preppy and relaxed and takes some pressure off, but at the same time there is always the concern that if you do something as glitzy as put on a heel or a bit of lipstick you will be dubbed a vain, shallow, ditz. So there’s that.

    • I agree, Bubu, that some times it does seem right to tuck a blouse in . . . because. I am sure I’ve done it at some point, at the last moment. I think the formality (or informality) of this blouse has more to due with the fact that it’s peeking (saucily?) out than that it’s untucked. I have blouses that are shorter than my jackets and can be worn untucked but are still hidden by the jacket.

  3. You mention Oregon – the state I currently reside in. Yes, the more relaxed atmosphere lends to more casual dressing – long facial hair for men, loads of flannel shirts, Doc Martens, people showing up to the opera and theatre wearing jeans, quirky styling all around. While I normally don’t mind this dressed down attitude out at public events, I still flinch when teachers at my school are attired in t-shirts revealing plentiful arm tattoos, crocheted beanies due to bed head, and jeans so dirty they can stand on their own. Am I a prude?

    I don’t even know where to go with this rant – just that I appreciate fine dressing, modesty, and admire people who care about how they clothe their bodies. I’m trying to uphold the business casual dress code and to set a good example at the school I work at. It’s not easy sometimes.

  4. Totally, totally agree that the West Coast is more laid-back. I travel all over for work (and sometimes even to courthouses…where I throw a jacket on over a dress, my work uniform), but I almost never wear a suit. I am also never in front of a judge and not an attorney, but always in law firms, where firm culture dictates what I wear. Having spent part of a year living in San Francisco where people think jeans and a blazer is dressing up, I am so happy to be back in NYC where I can be in a lovely dress and heels every day if I want and not look like a freak!

But what do you think?