Beyond the black suit

A Young Women in Law networking event leaves attendees divided

By Crystal Luxmore

On Thursday April 28th, 2011

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For female lawyers, dressing up for the office can be a chore. “Mix and match your suits, play with colour, try a wrap dress” — all frequent pieces of advice, but in offices with unspoken, conservative dress codes, “experimenting” can be a minefield.

To help, Young Women in Law organized their recent networking night around fashion. More than 50 young female lawyers, from public and private practice, gathered this past Tuesday at the revamped TNT store at Hazelton Lanes to sip wine and check out suiting and dresses by designers like Diane von Furstenburg, Alexander Wang, Comme des Garçons and Pink Tartan.

Three YWL executives volunteered to model office wear put together by TNT stylists — popular items were a classic shift dress, and an emerald green wrap dress by Issa. Still, women were divided over what was actually wearable at the office. One litigator ruled out capris with a jacket, and the bright wrap dress. “I can’t wear any of that to court,” she said. “If you show up looking different from everyone else, the judges pick on you.” But then, ywllater, she admitted, “You wouldn’t believe the stuff that some lawyers wear in the courtroom — maybe it’s my firm in particular.”

Others whispered that TNT was beyond their price point — swearing by cheaper, commercial stores like Femme de Carriers, Banana Republic and H&M. Nevertheless, the stylists’ creative outfits and the fashion rules of thumb provided inspiration. Perhaps there will be a little more experimenting at law offices in the coming months.