Ed. note: This is the third installment in a new series of monthly posts, brought to you by Corporette’s Kat Griffin, which will deal with topical business and lifestyle issues that present themselves in the world of Biglaw. Send your ideas for columns to us here.
One of the biggest sartorial challenges that both men and women face is looking professional in bad weather. Whether it’s slush, snow, rain, or just absolutely freezing temperatures, showing up at your office, meeting, or court appearance looking like the abominable snowman is usually frowned upon.
So how can you look your best but also stay warm and dry?
- Buy a winter jacket big enough to wear suit blazers beneath. For men this may be a no-brainer, but for women, yes, you may have to size up. Look for a jacket that hits mid-thigh (or longer) to stay warmest — nothing looks worse than a blazer jacket peeking out beneath a too-short wool coat (or — yeesh — a ski jacket).
- Shoewear can be tricky: barring absolutely horrible weather, most professional situations require you to show up with something resembling shoes (and not, say, Uggs or snowboots that make it look like you’re off to explore the Arctic afterwards.) If you’re just headed to the office, it’s usually fine to commute in galoshes or rain boots — just bring your shoes with you, or switch into shoes you keep at the office. If you’re headed to a meeting or an interview, though, it can be a bit trickier. Hunter now makes foldable rainboots, and I’ve always kept a pair of Shuellas stashed in a desk drawer. If all else fails, waterproof your shoes (or ask your shoe guy to do it for you) and hope your driver can drop you off as close as possible.
- Layer! If it’s truly freezing outside, silk long johns (available for both men and women) are a great way to add warmth without adding bulk. Similarly, women can get a big wool or cashmere wrap — it’s easy to layer on top of your jacket or blazer if you find yourself under dressed, but easy to use as just a scarf (or to tuck away into your bag) if you’re over dressed for the weather.
- If you’re traveling to a place with possibly bad weather, do a bit of research to understand the challenges. For example, here in New York in the winter, the biggest challenge is often the huge, unpredictably deep puddles in the subways and on the streets, so appropriate shoewear (and careful stepping) is always needed.
Finally, one of the questions I get regularly is whether women can wear tights to interviews and other big meetings. In previous Corporette polls, readers have always generally opposed wearing tights to interviews (or with skirt suits in general). This doesn’t mean you can’t do it, but you should probably think twice about it, particularly if you’re headed into a very conservative situation.
Do you find there are challenges to looking professional in bad weather? Have you found any great solutions?
Kat Griffin is the founder, publisher, and editor-in-chief of Corporette. She received her JD with honors from Georgetown University Law Center, and then returned to New York to work at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, where she worked as a litigator for six years; she then worked as a staff attorney at the Media Law Resource Center for two years. You can contact Kat here.