It’s summer. That means it’s law firm tour season. Many law students wonder what to wear to these tours – it can be stressful, especially if you’ve never stepped foot in a law firm before. But fret not. Cassels Brock & Blogwell is here to save the day (and your potential embarrassment by stopping you from mismatching your belt and shoes) with our Fashion Friday posts. Each Friday throughout the summer, we’ll be helping you navigate the fashions of Bay Street and Cassels to help you look your best.
That being said, sorry ladies, can’t help you out there. Nor would you want my help. All of your shoes look the same to me. They all look like, well, shoes. Tegan will be covering women’s fashion. I’ve been asked to write this guest blog on something I know a little more about: men’s fashion. “Guys can just throw on a suit” said almost every female ever. While true, we can “just throw on a suit”, we want to look good whilst doing it. So without further ado, here are some things to consider when dressing for a Bay Street law firm tour:
Sure, you might have a $2000 suit on. But that $2000 suit isn’t going to matter too much if it looks like you’re swimming in it. Conversely, if it looks like tight enough that it might be something a boy band would wear, you might want to consider another suit.
First and foremost, a suit jacket should fit in the shoulders. You want to make sure that there aren’t shoulder divots. Almost everything else on a suit can be tailored except the divots. Many tailors refuse altering the shoulders because: a) it can throw off the proportions of the entire jacket and b) it takes a lot of time and skill. That being said, if you get a jacket that fits in the shoulders from the beginning, you won’t have to worry about any of that. Here are some other things to consider:
– Try to stick with a single breasted jacket, with notch or peak lapels
– The length of the jacket sleeves should ideally expose roughly 0.5-1” of your shirt sleeve
– The jacket should be long enough to cover (or most of) your seat (your butt)
– You can go with a three piece suit should you feel compelled too, but you might be really warm (also, calm down there, Harvey Spectre)
– The break on the pants (where the pant legs end) is a matter of preference. I personally like a half-break or no-break to show off the sock game (more on that later)
– No pleats or cuffs on the pants for a more modern look
Stick with navy or charcoal for the firm tour. I’ve heard mixed opinions on black. The majority has argued that one should not wear black to the office. That being said, I own a black suit and haven’t worn it to work, and don’t plan on doing so anytime soon. Nor have I seen many others wearing black. Take from that what you will. However, if a black suit is all you own, absolutely go for it (just don’t pair it with a white shirt and black tie – you don’t want people giving you their food orders while at the tour).
Most patterns on suits are fine. Prince of Wales, glen plaid, and pin stripes are all acceptable. Unless you’re going for the Don Cherry look of the firm tour world (not advisable), anything that isn’t too flashy works. Don Cherry is the litmus test here.
When I attended firm tours, I always wore a plain white shirt. I did the same during OCIs and in-firm interviews. While colour is a matter of preference, plain white is a classic and safe colour that goes with any suit, and is easily paired with a variety of tie colours and patterns. Light blue is also another favourite. Some things to consider:
– This goes without saying, but make sure that it is a dress shirt (don’t be the person to show up in a t-shirt – you’d be surprised)
– Make sure that it’s clean and ironed
– A spread or point collar is most common at law firms
– If possible, make sure that the shirt has collar stays. Keep that collar crispy
– Patterns are fine (gingham, checks, or stripes), but again, a plain white or light blue shirt would be ideal
With the above being said, whatever shirt you pick, just make sure that it looks crisp and fresh the day of the firm tour. You want the lawyer you’re talking with to be concentrated on you and not on what may or may not be Cheeto stains on your shirt.
Sure, you can wear plain black socks, but come on, let’s get real. You can also eat the strawberry flavour in Neapolitan ice cream first. Why would you want to?
You have a little more discretion when it comes to your socks. You can use them to show off your personality when you might feel a little more restricted when it comes to your suit and shirt options. I’ve seen everything from neon polka dots, purple argyle, to turtle patterns grace the ankles of the boys at Cassels. Though you can definitely get away with a little more when it comes to socks, make sure to keep it within reason. This is true especially if it’s the first time you’re stepping foot in a law firm or at an interview. You want the lawyers to be concentrated on you and not distracted by your socks. You don’t want to become known as the guy who only wears crazy socks every day. If this is you, you’re trying too hard. You’re like that guy who loses their mind at pick-up softball, sliding into home, and taking out the catcher when you’re already up 12 runs. No one likes that guy. Stop.
If your dress shoes are black or brown and aren’t falling apart, you’re probably fine. If possible, make sure that they’re polished the day of the tour and don’t look like you just trekked through the Andes in them. When it comes to the style of shoe, you have some choices. Oxfords, cap toes, brogues, and wingtips all grace the hallways of Cassels. NOTE: Make sure that your belt and shoes are the same colour. Major key.
Definitely wear one to the firm tour. Again, just like socks, you have a little more discretion when it comes to ties. I’m not saying go ahead and break out that festive holiday one or that it’s time for the one with the piano keys to make an appearance, but you can definitely add some flare to your look with your tie. Just make sure it goes with what you’re wearing. Ex., combining a striped tie, striped shirt, and striped suit generally isn’t a good look (unless tastefully done and the distance between the stripes are all noticeably different. But even still, just don’t).
If you’re unsure how to match patterns and colours, a solid, dark coloured tie is usually safe when paired with a plain white or light blue shirt. Some safe colours for ties include: burgundy, dark blue, and purple. Stick with a half-Windsor or Windsor knot.
Also, be sure to keep your tie proportional to your jacket. The rule of thumb is that the widest part of your tie should be no thinner than the widest party part of your jacket lapel. Generally, this means no super skinny ties. A tie less than 2”in width would fall into this category.
Here’s a quick (non-exhaustive) list of tips when it comes to accessorizing:
– Wear a brown or black belt with a conservative buckle. Your belt and your shoes should be the same colour
– A simple analog watch is always safe. If it looks like it could be worn in a rap video, you might want to reconsider wearing it to a firm tour
– Necklaces are fine, just make sure that it’s not visible because you have the Miami Vice look going on and have three buttons undone. Though the necklace shouldn’t be visible anyway, since it’ll be under your plain white or light blue shirt and half-Windsor or Windsor knot. See above
– Pocket squares are also fine. Avoid matching your pocket square to your tie. Your pocket square and tie should complement one another, not match. To be safe, a plain white cotton or linen pocket square in a square fold goes with almost every tie, shirt, and suit combination. Very Don Draper
– Make sure your hair is neat and clean cut. You’ll be visiting a professional work environment and your overall appearance should reflect that. Having hair that looks like it could belong on the Bride of Frankenstein detracts from having a perfectly accessorized and fitting suit
There is absolutely no reason to break the bank over any of the things on this list. I don’t want anyone reading this to think that they have to go out and buy the things on here to be able to attend a firm tour or that you’ll be shunned if you show up in a black suit. That was not the point of this post at all. The goal here was simply to provide some guidance if you’re completely lost on what to wear.
At this point in your career, there is absolutely no reason that you need a bespoke suit form Savile Row or expensive shoes. Honestly, no one is going to care. You’re still a student and lawyers know this. No one is expecting you to wow them with the price tag of anything you’re wearing. If anything, you’ll look like you’re trying too hard. If you fit things off the rack, absolutely go for it. Just make sure that it fits. If you get a suit on sale, even better. Use the money you save and go see a tailor. I cannot stress that enough. A $300 suit that fits well can and will look exponentially better than one that’s a $1000 and poor fitting. Many people will have zero idea how to tell the difference between that $300 and $1000 suit. The majority of people will have no idea if that same suit is a polyester blend or wool or even know what difference that entails. As long as you feel confident in what you’re wearing, that’s the most important thing.
This is Richard signing off. Keep your fashion game strong.
DISCLAIMER: I am by no means a style expert and you’re more than welcome to completely disagree with me on anything that was said. Take everything on this list with a grain of salt.