Each and every work place is different. I have worked for firms that are business casual all the way down to casual wear. Casual wear was really hard for me to get use to. I am old school. I love wearing structured dresses, trousers, cardigans, and skirts. Growing up my Father never let me wear sweatpants outside of the house. He would always tell me “A lady always needs to look put together. Because you never know who is sizing you up.” He was critical about our hair, fashion choices, and make up. Even to this day I do not buy an evening gown without my Daddy’s advice. He will tell you “I raised ladies and not heathens.” It’s true he did.
When I worked downtown I would often sit in the crystal court and watch the sky way fashion show. I saw everything from men in glittery jeans to suits along with women who often looked closer to a hooker than an accountant. Then there were the Target ladies. Target employes look like they walked right off the women’s clothing department floor. They had style and I’ll admit they liked pretty darn cute in their Menora wear. You could tell the first time suit wearers from the old pros. Awkward straightening of the tie to young ladies pulling their tights out of unspeakable places.
The firm in the burbs is a very casual environment. It’s hard to tell the Attorneys from the Paralegals and the Paralegals from the collectors. Everyone is always in jeans. Truth: When an Attorney comes in wearing business wear I automatically think I missed a court date on their calendar.
Over the years I have been witness to many wardrobe malfunctions. One should not wear clothes to work that fully display your muffin top or every bump in your body. Pants so tight that you can see a panty line or something worse. There is a reason God gave us mirrors. Most of the legal assistants are in their early twenties so its understandable that they think what worked at the club, works in the office. If you shook your booty in it, then don’t wear it to work. Club clothes do not belong in a law firm environment. If you are a bigger girl (hey I am right there with you) dress for your shape and accentuate your curves. This doesn’t mean wearing a shirt that’s three times to small and pants that are so tight a roll hangs over the top. Show who you are and leave something to be desired. Hey, dressing like a lady can be hard work.
So what does a paralegal wear to work? Thats a very good question and I am inviting you into my closet to find out.
I get all of my blazers tailored to my body. This way I know they will look great on me. For a spring time look pair a cream blazer with a blue silk tank and dark gray trousers.
Cardigans are a girls best friend. We all know that the office can be to cold or to hot. Pair a light weight top with a cardigan and trousers. If you get to warm take your cardigan off and roam around in your light weight top and trousers. To cold? Well go find your cardigan and warm yourself up.
BUSINESS CASUAL / DRESSING UP JEANS:
Dark wash jeans are great for the office. They shout “Hey I am casual, yet professional.” To keep that business casual feel pair the dark wash jeans with a flowy top and cardigan.
I get most of my clothes from New York & Company, Old Navy, JC Penny, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Target and H&M. One thing should be known I rarely pay full price for clothing and I always shop the sales racks for great deals. Basics like cardigans can be picked up at Target for less than $30 each and they usually go on sale in the spring/fall for 50% off or more. Old Navy is great for t-shirts and trouser jeans. I am loving their sweetheart trouser cut jeans right now. JC Penny has a new sales model, you can find great deals on the 1st and 3rd Friday of the month. Neiman Marcus and Macy’s are my splurge spots.
What matters most is that you feel great in what you are wearing and that it is comfortable for you to work in as well. Your style choices are a reflection of who you are and show that you care about yourself. Always wear a pretty shoe and put your best self forward. Keep in mind you never know who is watching you. It could be Mr. Right or an Attorney from another firm scoping out paralegals for a new hire. I always say dress like you are going to an on the spot interview. When you do that, you can never go wrong.
Hopefully this helps each of you dress like a top-notch paralegal.