Fashion, Feminism, Gender, Women's Issues

Biglaw Women, You Will Not Get Help with Your Make-Up

Lipstick.JPGYesterday, Elie got his panties in a bunch about the New York City Bar event: Dressing for Success: Fashion Sense for the Workplace. The event — aimed at women — was to be led by Eve Pearl, a “celebrity makeup artist and fashion consultant” who would talk about “how to project a professional image.”
Elie quoted tipsters offended by the City Bar offering women “charm school lessons.” He was especially offended by the fact that Pearl would not be offering any foundation application tips to men:

Why market a “fashion sense talk” to women, while ignoring men? Why just assume that women, professional women, need be more concerned about their appearance than their male counterparts? We all know why. It’s because there is a huge double standard when it comes to the appearance expectations on women as opposed to men.

The jihad on fashion for women was successful. The City Bar told us today that they’re canceling the event. But since I’m not as much of a feminist as Elie, I’m disappointed by the news.

A spokesman from the City Bar informed us today that the event is a no-go:

The City Bar has canceled the March 23rd event “Dressing for Success: Fashion Sense for the Workplace.” The event was an attempt to respond to suggestions from some lawyers that they would be interested in such a program. However, we have come to recognize that in its execution, the event ended up with a focus that many found inappropriate and we determined that the program should be cancelled.

This is disappointing, in part because Sweet Hot Justice had planned to attend, to bring us blow-by-blow — or brush-by-brush — coverage.
But it’s also disappointing because female fashion should be a viable topic for an event. It certainly sparked a discussion in our comments:

I have a difficult time with this, that is for sure. I am attractive and look much younger than I am (34 and everyone thinks mid 20’s, plus 5’3 and 100lbs). I get no respect and no, I do not dress like an a-hole. I went from light blonde hair to dark hair and glasses and still feel like I am not taken seriously. The other day I greeted a client I had spoken to for months and he asked “where is ___.” We laughed about it later, but it is truly annoying.
My office is casual and I normally wear conservative dress pants, button downs and cashmere sweaters.
I am at a loss when it comes to looking older. Also, I have to wear makeup to look older, but am afraid that going too far makes me look like a hooker.

The workplace is changing rapidly, and it warrants conversation. As one commenter pointed out:

ok, honestly, the definition of “business casual” varies so much for women that a panel isn’t necessarily a bad idea (makeup, not so much). Guys have it so easy–just lose the jacket. It’s a lot harder for women to figure out business casual, especially when it may depend on where you work.

In his post, Elie imagined an ideal world where how women dress and do their make-up doesn’t matter. That’s a great ideal, man. I appreciate that perspective. Unfortunately, we don’t yet live in that world — and probably never will — so women should be able to talk about it, and exchange tips on how to dress to avoid their appearance undermining their arguments.
Because judges do take notice. Whether you’re male or female. But the issues differ by gender. I don’t think there’s a male equivalent to a short skirt or cleavage-baring shirt. I haven’t yet seen a lawyer in a suit so tight that I could see his junk. Sadly.
There are certain female issues — when it comes to dress and make-up — that men cannot relate to, so it does not strike me as outrageous that women would have their own event on these issues.
I think the Bar should put the event back on the agenda. And put together a separate event for male lawyers with a fashion consultant to advise them on how to pick a suit, how to pair ties and shirts, how long their hair can be for their area of law, and how much stubble is allowed during oral… argument.
Earlier: Biglaw Women, Do You Even Know How to Use Make-Up?

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