Biglaw, Fashion, Fashion Is Fun, Shoes, Summer Associates

Summer Associates: Please Don’t Dress Like Fashion Victims


  • Nail polish and nails: length / shape / color? Keep nails short, clean, and simple (clear or just a very translucent pink). If you’re going to use a color, keep the colors classic — a deep red, a pale pink — and the nails extra short.
  • Do women really have to wear makeup? Wear at least a little bit of makeup. Studies have proven that women in makeup are rewarded in the workplace and perceived as more competent. At a minimum, use mascara and lip gloss — and a little healthy glow on your cheeks can give a nice boost, as well.

How to Stand Out

  • Let’s talk about hosiery — are patterns and fishnets okay? I’ve seen several women wear patterned and fishnet stockings. Patterned hosiery is okay if it’s not too lacy or too loud. Stick to more traditional shapes (e.g., a ribbed tight or hosiery with a slight stripe) as opposed to wild geometric patterns that can be more distracting than striking. Opt for muted colors (greys, dark greens, mauve) instead of anything bright or fluorescent. Flesh-colored fishnets are okay; wear black fishnets only with pants (showing a little at the ankle and foot is fine, but an entire leg exposed with black fishnets falls into the distracting category and isn’t worth the risk of ridicule). Stick with very conservative hosiery when dressing for court. Judges tend to frown on anything remotely sexy or fashion-forward.
  • Is a conservative pant suit with loud shoes okay (e.g., animal print, bright colors)? Introducing a bit of flair with a conservative pant suit is a good way to soften your look. Some animal print or red shoes are a great complement to the otherwise very masculine pant suit.
  • And for the men, are colored/patterned ties okay to wear in front of a judge? Men should err on the conservative side when in front of a judge. Ties in muted colors are fine, but save your more whimsical, colorful neckwear for the office — they are seldom appreciated by judges.
  • What kind of jewelry should I wear? No dangly earrings. Statement necklaces are okay, but pair them only with small studs, and without any bracelets or rings (except wedding rings, etc.). Wear only only one or two rings at a time, and skip them altogether unless they’re very high end. Bracelets are fine, but make sure they’re not too loud and distracting.

What do you think of Professor Akbari’s fashion tips and tricks? Do you have any other advice that will keep summer associates from dressing like fashion victims? Please send us an email, or let us know in the comments.

Earlier: Wearing Peep-Toe Shoes to Court? Women Judges Weigh In

Anna Akbari is a sociologist and professor in the department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, as well as a serial entrepreneur: she is the founder and CEO of Splice, an enterprise software recommendation engine; and the founder of Closet Catharsis, her fashion and image consulting company, which takes a holistic approach to individual empowerment and identity construction through personal styling and image management. Anna serves on the advisory boards for Dapprly, a men’s social fashion app, and Stone Creek Entertainment mobile gaming company. Her academic research focuses on visual and virtual self-presentation, mediated / digital identity, group and individual identity construction, visual culture, and digital happiness. She is also a frequent guest lecturer and writer, most recently for TEDxSiliconAlley, The Atlantic, The Financial Times, and she has a regular column in Stylecaster.

Anna attended Interlochen Arts Academy on scholarship for Theater; she received her B.A. in Religious and Middle Eastern Studies from New York University, an M.A. in Liberal Studies and a Ph.D. in Sociology from The New School for Social Research.

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