Dress to Defend

Skelly recently updated the look of his blog (nice) along with a short post about the proper attire for a public defender:

Every work day, I wear a tie (from my couturiers, Deseret Industries and Ross Dress for Less) with a white shirt, a blue shirt, or a gray shirt. I maybe suit up once or twice a week and go with a sportcoat the rest of the time. In my office, if you’re not going to court, t-shirts and flip-flops are okay, but shorts are verboten. I can’t pull off either look, so the tie stays on.

Sounds pretty much like what I’ve seen around the PD offices I’ve been in, although Montana is far more relaxed in the dress department than anywhere else I’ve seen. On my first day in court here I saw a defense lawyer conduct a hearing in court wearing (from head to toe): windblown, slightly mullet-esque hair; no tie; an open-collared, white, button-up, short-sleeved shirt; a wide, tooled-leather belt with a big shiny buckle; faded and worn wranglers; and scuffed cowboy boots. I was taken aback that someone would have the nerve to stand up and represent a client in open court in such attire, but the judge wasn’t even phased; it simply wasn’t an issue. Since then I have seen that this guy seems to be the exception; most men wear khakis, ties, and sportcoats, and their shoes are usually more or less dress shoes, although cowboy boots are not uncommon—especially for judges. I’ve since seen Mr. Casual Cowboy wearing at least a sportcoat with his outfit, and often he even has a tie. Less than half the male members of the defense bar seem to favor suits (khakis/sportcoat are the norm), but the prosecution seems to like the slightly dressier and traditional look of the matchy-match pants and coat.

On the subject of dress, JuvieJournal reminds us that defense attorneys make a statement with their clothes, whether they like it or not. I agree that it’s important to look professional, but a certain level of comfort is also a priority, don’t you think? [tags]style, fashion[/tags]

3 thoughts on “Dress to Defend”

  1. I agree that comfort would be nice, but professionally speaking I always think it’s better to make a “dress-well” impression. For example, I wear pants to work less than once a month (and I work with glue!) and usually think twice about wearing a printed teeshirt, even though my co-workers wear tevas, threadbare plaid shirts, ancient leather vests, ripped jeans, and “Bad Boys Bail Bonds” tees. My co-workers frequently comment on how well-dressed I am (“you bring a touch of class to this place”).

    Granted, there’s a thin line between making an impression and seeming like you’re trying too hard (and I would imagine that my getups would just brand me as a stuckup outsider in a smaller, more conservative place), but I think it never hurts to give the impression that you take the place seriously enough to care what image you present.

    So I’d say dress nicely, with a pair of comfortable but tidy shoes, and rest easy knowing you’re doing a little something extra.

    But ask X what he thinks, too. He’s thought about this a lot, being that he teaches MBAs and has to convey a certain professional/don’t-fuck-with-me image without seeming like he’s trying too hard/afraid of them.

  2. [tried to post this before]

    Dr. X would also probably recommend that you get a pair of Ecco shoes.

    (check zappos.com under Ecco and then dress shoes)

    They’re comfortable and stylish; pricey, but they last a long time. Just ask him.

  3. I’m doing my best to add a little flair to the basic wardrobe, but I’m not exactly a clotheshorse, if you know what I mean. For me it’s about trying to feel good in my clothes, I think, which is easier if you feel like your clothes are not just like everyone else’s or sloppy or boring or whatever. Unfortunately, the male “dress” wardrobe is pretty limited, so the best place to express yourself may be in colors of shirts and ties. As far as suits go, I can’t tell the difference between a $1000 and a $100 suit; they all look the same to me, which is boooooooring. I guess that’s probably the point.

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