Have an upcoming interview for a summer position or maybe an internship that you will complete during the upcoming academic year? Dressing appropriately can play a major part in whether you land the position or whether you ultimately get to keep your job. Today in our “Fashionably Lawyered” series we’ll be discussing how to dress the part for a law interview or for an internship while remaining on a budget.
Let’s dive in!
How to Dress for an Interview on a Budget
Dressing inappropriately or even carrying the incorrect accessories can affect your chances of receiving a job offer regardless of your high GPA. Remember that if you’ve been selected for an interview, the recruiters already know that you’re qualified for the position. Therefore, the interview is all about getting to know you in person and whether you’ll be a fit. As a result, wearing informal slacks or a short skirt may be an indicator that you lack professionalism, which suggests that you may not be a good fit for the job.
As a rule of thumb you should usually wear business formal attire. In the event you’re interviewing with a public interest organization or even a startup company a full suit may not necessarily be required. However, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Therefore, if you’re unsure, business formal is the way to go. Although the business formal dress code may be pretty cut and dry, there are a few variations that could cause you to question whether you are accurately fulfilling this dress code. For example, a business formal suit for a more liberal firm up North may be extremely inappropriate for an interview at a small conservative firm in the South. Therefore, appropriately dressing the part means fitting into the business formal culture of your prospective employer.
For the men, business formal attire is pretty straightforward. This typically means a well-tailored suit of a solid color such as: black, navy or grey, which comprises of a blazer, dress pants, a buttoned up shirt and a tie. Also pair this with a black or dark brown leather dress shoes.
For the women however, business formal can be quite tricky. This attire generally means a suit comprised of a pencil skirt or slacks, a blazer and an under shirt. It’s typically recommended that the suit should be a solid color such as: black, navy or grey. The under shirt should be a solid color as well with the exception of pinstripes perhaps being the most adventurous design.
The most difficult aspect of business formal attire for women is certainly the variations of this style. Is it appropriate to wear a sheer blouse or a camisole as an under shirt and is it appropriate to wear tailored pants? Are panty hose a requirement? How long should your skirt be? How high exactly is too high for your heels? Honestly, the correct answer to these questions may depend on the firm culture. While it is never acceptable to wear a camisole as your sole undergarment beneath your blazer, wearing this camisole under a sheer blouse as opposed to a buttoned up shirt may be an acceptable undergarment at a more liberal firm. Also wearing pants to an interview is not encouraged in the South, while this may be acceptable attire for an interview up North. The same goes for panty hose, although I’ve never seen this as a firm requirement, it certainly wouldn’t hurt your chances to wear this to an interview with a more conservative employer. Also, regardless of the location and culture, your skirt should never go above your knees and your heels should never go above two inches high.
Don’t be too showy
As you get your interview wardrobe together, one thing to keep in mind is that it may be best to not bring along your most expensive accessories. Although some interviewers could care less if you’re bringing a $5000 purse into an interview, I’ve heard some employers discuss that this has rubbed them the wrong way as it gives off the impression that you’re already financially stable and not necessarily in need of the job. Firm culture will certainly play a role in making this decision. Bringing along expensive accessories may not be a huge deal if you’re interviewing for a big firm position. However, if you’re interviewing for a public interest job this could certainly run counter to the interest of the organization and not play well in your favor. So to be safe, it may be best to leave your most showy possessions at home.
Where to get these Items on a Budget
It’s already a known fact that business formal attire can get pretty pricey, so it would certainly be a relief on your wallet to get these items at a discounted price. So where exactly can you get these items for pretty cheap? Well if you’ve already read the first post in this series, you may have already guessed it, thrifting! While I don’t recommend relying on casual consignment stores for your business formal best, there are a selection of higher end consignment stores that sell luxury designs at a super discounted price. Two of these popular online stores are Poshmark and the Real Real.
Poshmark offers pre-owned clothing from popular brands at a cheaper price. Check out this navy H&M blazer for only $15 or this grey pencil skirt for only $8. There are also a variety of suit options for men such as this grey suit set for only $159. If you’re looking for even higher end items, The Real Real offers a great selection. Check out this women’s Prada pant-suit for only $175 or this two-piece Gucci men’s suit for $275. The Real Real also gives you a $25 shopping credit just for signing up with them and you can also earn up to $125 for referring the site to your friends. So, regardless of your price point, you should be able to find some good business formal attire at either of these consignment options.
If you’re a bit weary of purchasing pre-owned clothing for an interview, you could consider getting your business formal attire at Lands’ End. This store offers excellent business formal clothing at fairly reasonable prices. For example this white buttoned up shirt would be the perfect addition to your formal business suit or these men’s trousers starting at $29.99.
How to Dress for a Law School Internship
Once you’ve landed a job offer while looking your business formal best at the interview, how do you dress to go into the office for your internship on a daily basis? The easiest answer to this is to dress according to the office guidelines. If you’re working at a law firm, chances are you may be required to dress business casual. However, if you’re working in a government position, for the District Attorney or clerking for a judge, you may be required to dress business formal each day.
If dressing business casual, this makes your transition between classes and work a lot easier. This also saves you some money as you don’t necessarily have to expand your wardrobe for work, as you can just repeat what you’ve worn to classes. However, it’s definitely safer to err more on the business as opposed to the casual side. For example, chino shorts and a blazer may be appropriate business casual attire for your classes, however, this outfit would not be appropriate for the workplace environment. Also, if working for a firm, I definitely suggest always keeping a blazer in your car or somewhere nearby because you never know when an attorney may need to whisk you off to court with them or if a major client will be coming to the office. In the event of either, you definitely want to be prepared.
So where do you get this attire? If you’re on a very tight budget, thredup.com and swap.com are great options. However, if you’re looking for more sophisticated attire and are able to extend your budget just a bit more, Poshmark and the Real Real could be your go-to stores.
If dressing business formal, apply all the tips that I’ve fleshed out above in the interview section. It’s important that you take this dress code seriously because judges are not afraid to kick you out of their courtroom for dressing inappropriately. Please try your best to not be the intern that embarrasses your employer. Remember, you don’t want to mess up your chances of getting a full time offer.
I hope these tips were helpful!
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