While sitting in the gallery of the appellate division courthouse yesterday watching my Husband in oral argument, I could hardly keep my attention on the proceedings. I was drowning in a sea of dark polyester and PVC shoes.
The center of the room housed the lawyers, present to argue their case in front of the esteemed panel of judges. On the sides sat the onlookers, who, like me, were in attendance for moral support. (I am still not sure which motley crew committed the greater offense.)
I of course understand the need for conservative dressing in such situations. But people commonly misconstrue conservative to equate with somber, sullen, and dreary (and inevitably, polyester). This is not the case. There are plenty of ways to remain appropriately attired while not snuffing out every creative spark that lies within. Take the classic skirt suit. Rather than going the safe route with a black, boxy blazer and an a-line skirt, opt for a slim, cropped fit with a coordinating pencil skirt in a moderate hue more exciting than black, such as gray heather or pewter. Another nice option is the ultra classic yet always modern shift dress. Fabrics such as stretch fine flannel, wool twill, wool gabardine, and crepe offer a refreshing alternative to drab poly blend, and will last longer (in addition to giving others the impression that you are a lawyer by day, fashionista by night).
If you have the pleasure of attending a court hearing or trial as an observer, dressing as if you leaped from bed, then dragged yourself to the courthouse by the tail pipe of a bus is not the best tactic. I don't mean to harp on the Uggs, but they are certainly not appropriate for the courtroom (unless your strategy is to ensure the attorney or client you are present to support looses his appeal). The girl seated to my right sported the famous Uggs, gray leggings, a torn hot pink cardigan, a messy ponytail, and a t-shirt. While I appreciate the splash of color, I can hardly applaud her ensemble. Ditch the leggings and elephant feet, and the cardigan could have been mended then paired with fitted denim or slacks for a totally acceptable (even stylish) product. By time my Husband took his place at the podium I was able to focus for 10 minutes on his point (it helped that he was dressed in a fine wool, blue pinstripe suit with classic-yet-edgy patterned Brooks Brothers tie and contrasting, yet complimentary, patterned shirt. A breath of fresh air.)