What to Wear When and Where

The 1L summer job search can be difficult (there are plenty of posts explaining this). However, for some 1Ls, the search is over – “summer internship” has successfully been crossed off the list of things to tackle. Once the reality of securing a legal internship had finally sunk in, I realized that my wardrobe needed a few key items. This reminded me of a question I had before even starting law school: what are law students supposed to wear? After a (nearly complete) year of classes, CDO events, networking events, and a job search, I will do my best to cover all the bases. There are many mixed opinions out there of what you should and should not do. This is simply a guide to what I see in the hallways every day.

Every Day: Law students dress pretty normally. No, there is no need to dress up daily. Dress comfortably – there is no formal dress code. On a day-to-day basis in the Redstone building, you will see everything from athletic clothes worn by students trying to squeeze in some time at the gym to suits worn by students on the way to interviews. There is no wrong outfit for heading to class. However, in relation to what people wore to college lectures, law school is a step up. That being said, jeans are absolutely ok.

Business Casual: What is business casual? There may be no other category of attire that carries quite so much grey area or casts so much doubt in the minds of those instructed to prepare such an outfit. At events that require business casual dress, you see a mixture. Most girls typically wear a dress/ dress pants/ skirt with a blouse (and a cardigan if it’s cold). Guys tend towards dress pants and a button down shirt. Tie optional.

Business/ Business Formal: Law school is the first time many people are asked to venture into the business formal world. However, it has much clearer requirements. Wear a suit. Black, navy, or grey are classic options. Keep your outfit a bit more on the conservative side than usual. Guys – make sure you’ve got dress socks in advance. Girls – stock up on nylons and tights.

Interview Attire: Before interviewing for this summer, I looked at a few different sources for things to avoid when choosing an outfit for an interview. The sources ranged from normal common sense (keep in line with business formal) to the extremely detailed (right down to hygiene and how much/which makeup to wear). Do keep in line with business formal. Don’t look to the details to such a degree that you cause yourself stress. Again, I would emphasize to keep your outfit on the conservative side. Avoid things that are flashy or trendy – classics are always safe options that won’t raise any eyebrows. Avoid too much makeup, perfume, or cologne. Keep it simple, keep it classic.

Internship: Since I have yet to begin my internship, this advice is what I have heard from other law students. I am currently in the process of adding a few final items to my work wardrobe. When you arrive at law school, you will of course have packed the essentials for the inevitable business casual/ business formal events. I found, however, that I was still lacking some items. Having a few pairs of office-appropriate shoes is a must (shoes wear out fast in Boston given all the walking you will do). Additionally, consider the scope of the internship – generally they last about 10 weeks, so you will need enough business clothes to rotate through. When you intern, try to get a feel for the office – perhaps notice how employees tend to dress and fit your attire into this standard, whether it be more casual or more formal.

To any rising 1Ls, I would suggest pulling together some of these staples before law school begins. Make sure you have a well-fitted suit in your closet as well as a few business-appropriate tops and a couple different dress shoe options. Get some of these essentials ready ahead of time so that the events with a dress code don’t catch you off guard. I stocked up on the basic business clothes before starting law school, and it has certainly given me a good foundation as I prepare for my summer internship.

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