Could this really happen at a law firm pool party?

It’s early June, and most summer associate programs are now in full swing. Sure, these Biglaw indoctrination programs have been pared down significantly since the days of yore, but law students are still having a great time gunning hard for offers. Staying at the office until 5:30 on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend was simply awesome. Everyone’s having so much fun!

Unfortunately, lurking in the dark underbelly of large law firms everywhere, a terrifying event lies in wait for these overly cheerful summer associates. Over the frustrated sighs of attorneys nationwide, news has spread that a pool party or beach outing has been scheduled. Sheer dread quickly spreads among the summer associates, and their pale skin from years spent studying blanches a shade whiter, as if such a thing were possible.

Dear God, what the hell should these people wear? Should they wear — gasp! — bathing suits?

We’ve written about these lamentable summer events in the past, and we’ve got suggestion for you: Even “[i]f they say bring your swimsuit, it doesn’t mean you have to do that.” Unfair as it may be, this piece of advice goes especially for the women. Here’s some advice from a woman who’s been there, done that:

“The double standard is in full force: Men are wearing swimsuits, but women are perceived as wearing underwear,” says Renee Brissette, a [former] partner [at Alston + Bird] who has done stints as a corporate “minder” at Florida events for her firm’s young associates. She suggests that women wear Capri pants, sleeveless dresses or, at most, Bermuda shorts at such events.

Who wears short shorts? Not women in Biglaw. Your thighs may be firm, but they’re not firm appropriate:

One woman partner at an Am Law 100 firm in New York thinks it’s a no-win situation for most women: “I don’t think anything good comes from parading in a bathing suit in front of one’s colleagues, and certainly would question the wisdom of wearing a bikini in a business social context–no matter how young or fit one may be.” But if you must wear a swimsuit, she says, she’d opt for “a modest racing suit and a cover-up right to the water’s edge.”

If you’re daring enough to go against the grain and actually wear a swimsuit to your firm’s Puritanical pool party, Kat Griffin of Corporette has some helpful hints for those seriously thinking of pulling an Aquagirl:

- Focus on wearing an outfit appropriate for other activities.

– Think “sporty,” not pin-up, push-up, or sexy.

– Do your best to avoid the chance of any “wardrobe malfunctions.”

– Whatever you wear, only wear your swimsuit in the pool itself.

The most important piece of advice is to avoid wardrobe malfunctions and wearing an itsy bitsy teenie weenie bikini — unless, of course, you’d prefer to be known as “M&A T&A” for the rest of your career. The bottom line here is that if you choose to wear a swimsuit at all, you should do yourself a favor and buy a conservative one-piece. It may be boring, but at least you won’t be the subject of office gossip.

Like it or not, this seems to be proper swimsuit etiquette for professional summer parties. Yes, it’s incredibly sexist, but them’s the breaks, especially in the wonderful world of Biglaw.

What to Wear to the Office Pool Party… [Corporette]
Swimming Pool [The Careerist]
Overexposed: Surviving the Corporate Outing [Wall Street Journal]


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