Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tips and Trends: How to Dress for a Drafting Session (or Other Business Formal Meeting)

One of the things that a law associate will eventually do is accompany the partner or a more senior associate to a drafting session.The same thing happens in other industries as well, particularly finance or consulting - at some point, the junior is asked to accompany the boss to a very professional meeting. For men, the dress code is always simple: wear a dark colored (but not solid black) suit with a tie. Simply prepare to lose the tie and jacket if the session gets heated (either literally due to the thermostat or figuratively because the banks and the company begin to have a disagreement about how to phrase some part of the prospectus). For women, however, the wardrobe choice is much more difficult. A "suit" can mean a pantsuit, skirt suit or a dress with a matching jacket. What should you wear for shoes? What about jewelry? Above all, how do you dress so that you are comfortable in a situation where there is a good chance that you will be the only woman at the table?

Step 1: Wear a Suit
This cannot be overstated. These meetings are EXTREMELY professional, so wear a suit. Any of the 3 forms of suits below are usually fine, but you must have a jacket and it must match the other items you are wearing. If you do not wear a suit, you will look and feel very out of place at the table.



Suit Options



Jacket, skirt, dress and pants are all from J. Crew 
I know it's a lot of J. Crew (and no, they did not pay me for this post - wish they would though!), but in my opinion these pieces are the highest quality and most classic option on the market at the moment. All pieces can be purchased in both the US and the UK.


Step 2: Keep your shoes professional
This is not the time to wear purple pumps. This is not the time to wear leopard-print flats. This is the time to wear classic black pumps or low heels, maybe in patent leather if you are feeling daring. You do not want your shoes to be stealing this show. Also, I recommend walking to your meeting in flats and putting on your heels while riding up in the elevator. That way you don't risk damaging your heels by walking them through the city streets.

Classic Black Pumps



Step 3: Wear classic jewelry (and a watch)
The men at the table will be wearing, at most, 4 items that could qualify as jewelry: a watch, a wedding band, a tie clip and cufflinks. You should also be wearing, at most, 4 items: a watch, wedding rings, a necklace and earrings. This is not the time to overload on bracelets, particularly if they jingle (i have seen someone do this and it does not make a good impression), or try to copy the layered necklaces trend. Also, keep everything in proportion to your role in the meeting. If you are a partner or CEO, go ahead and rock your XXL diamond stud earrings. You have definitely earned them. But, if you are a first-year associate, no one should be looking at your jewelry thinking "I wonder how much she spent on that?" Generally speaking, pearls are a safer option than large gemstones because even expensive pearls look appropriately subtle.


Classic Jewelry


1. MARC by March Jacobs 2. Lagos 3. Judith Jack
4. Radley (UK) 5. John Lewis (UK) 6. John Lewis (UK)


Step 4: Carry an appropriate bag
All the men will be carrying black leather briefcases. I highly recommend that you find something you like to carry that will hold all your documents, possible a laptop and definitely an extra shawl in case it gets cold and an umbrella if it starts to rain on your walk over. The large size Longchamp totes are perfect for this, but if you want something more structured than a tote bag, there are other options.
Black totes



Best of luck in helping banks and companies see eye-to-eye and make a mental note of funny things people say to share with your co-workers when you get back to the office (assuming they are not client confidential)!!

6 comments :

  1. This is extremely useful! There are a lot of posts on the internet about doing business casual or day-to-day business, but not so much for the very formal meetings. Thank you!

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoying it and found it useful!

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  2. Do you think it is best to stick with nude for you pantyhose with suits that you wear in formal situations or will you wear black pantyhose with your darker suits?

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    1. I think it's a personal decision. I always wear nude, as I think they look better on me than dark hose. However, as long as you are wearing hose any color should be fine. Just don't wear tights! They look way too casual for a formal business suit.

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    2. Thanks for the Reply! I usually wear nude as well but every once in a while like to change it up with a different color depending on the suit I am wearing.

      Keep up the great work on this blog! It has been great to follow something that talks about everyday wear in a conservative office. You have helped inspire me that conservative office wear doesn't have to be so boring.

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    3. Thanks for the encouragement!! I'll keep the posts coming :-)

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