Fashion, Gender, Sexism, Women's Issues

Women Lawyers Advised Not To Dress Like Lady Gaga, Among Other Absurdities

Why won’t anyone take her seriously? It’s clearly the shoes.

Women’s fashion choices are the whipping boy (or girl) of the legal profession. At least every other month, women attorneys get lectured by bar associations, Biglaw firms, law schools, and even federal judges on the way that they ought to dress themselves, from head to toe.

This time, we’ve got an attorney/image consultant riding on his conservative horse to herald the good word from on high that women lawyers dare not dream of dressing fashionably, lest they risk their entire careers by wearing peep-toe pumps.

There are only so many times that women can be told not to dress like sluts, but this guy kicks things off with a bang by insulting a “misguided female judge” for her opinions on women’s style…

Last night, we started receiving reports of an article entitled “The Importance of a Woman’s Image in the Workplace” that was published in Legal Ink Magazine. It’s apparently been going around the internet, and people are pretty pissed off about it. Here’s what one of its unhappy readers said to us via email:

I’m so glad this man is letting me know that no one will ever take me seriously if I wear shoes taller than 2.5 inches.

With that kind of endorsement, we took a peek at the article to see what kind of “tips” this fellow had to offer to the world’s women attorneys. As it turns out, William Cane of Manhattan Makeovers, who “practiced law briefly in 1986,” would sooner have women dress like schoolmarms than see them assert themselves by wearing fashion-forward apparel. Perhaps his advice comes from the year he practiced.

Time and time again we see the same advice being given — advice that some women attorneys would do well to follow — but the way that it’s presented is so condescending, so patronizing, so tone deaf, that women would rather see it mercilessly mocked than consider its value, if it even had any to begin with.

Such is the case here, where Cane singles out a female judge in New York for saying that she “feel[s] women attorneys should wear whatever they wish.” He calls this “misguided,” noting that it’s “easy for her to say since she wears a black robe every day.” For what it’s worth, before she wore that black robe every day, that “misguided” female judge was dealing with the same fashion concerns as the rest of the women attorneys who are constantly left questioning whether their every move is professional enough.

Here are three of Cane’s most ridiculous statements on women’s fashion for the legal profession:

1. You cannot sport hair that is longer than shoulder-length if you wish to be taken seriously as an attorney.

2. You want to look like an attorney, not Lady Gaga.

3. The only acceptable shoe for a female attorney is a closed-toe, closed-heel pump, with heels no more than two and a half inches.

Let’s get some things straight. You won’t get passed over for a job because your hair is too long. You won’t “prejudic[e] [your] own case by wearing high heels or open-toe shoes” — even female federal judges think that women lawyers can wear peep-toe shoes. You won’t look like Lady Gaga, because that’s just insane.

William Cane lost a very large audience of women attorneys by belittling them from the moment he put word to web. These women aren’t stupid — in fact, they’re far from it, and they don’t need to be talked down to as if they were insolent teenagers. Let’s treat them with the respect they deserve for a change.

The Importance of a Woman’s Image in the Workplace [Legal Ink Magazine]

Earlier: Federal Judge Suggests That Women Lawyers Not Dress Like ‘Ignorant Sluts’
Law School Sends Memo About Inappropriate Student Cleavage, Hooker Heels
Biglaw Memo From Top Firm Advises That Women ‘Don’t Giggle,’ Don’t ‘Show Cleavage’
Fashion Dos and Don’ts From the Windy City (If you have a tramp stamp, it may already be too late)
Wearing Peep-Toe Shoes to Court? Women Judges Weigh In

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