Female Lawyers Have Most Confusing Dress Code

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Photo: Mary Evans/Everett Collection

Finding an outfit that is clean and definitely doesn't qualify as sexual harassment five days each week is a challenge for many. Then there are female lawyers, whose dress code varies depending on the judge they’re appearing in front of. Some judges, for example, don’t like pink. Inspired by a condescending Loyola Law School administrator who told students that local lawyers and judges were complaining about the cleavage and stiletto heels on interns, Slate’s Amanda Hess explored the challenges of being a woman in an industry dominated by men in intentionally bad suits. She explains:

“Women lawyers today are faced with many more fashion choices than male lawyers and, therefore, have more opportunities to screw up,” lawyer Ann Farmer Farmer writes; while men have a fairly standard uniform, women are forced to change outfits depending on the tastes of the presiding judge. While Farmer says that few judges state a preference for women to wear skirts outright, some “get the message out through law clerks, who will sometimes intercede before a hearing begins.” Even less staid judges have conflicting personal tastes. As Chief Judge Carla Craig of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York told Farmer: “The color pink, no. Hoop earrings — I have seen those. And they looked great, actually.”

It’s like Mean Girls but more complicated, not a joke, and involving adults with expensive degrees.