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Advantage of business casual: More options for suits?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by josepidal, Oct 24, 2006.

  1. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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    Manton's advice to young men in The Suit is totally in line with odoreater's sentiments. You want to stand out for your work, not for your love of paisley. That's just the breaks. If you look up any of the I-banker threads, you'll see a similar concern among the younger ranks about standing out. Simply put, you don't want to do it, esp during your first year. When I want to stand out, I wear a white linen pocket square with a sportcoat, not a Dre 3000 kit. And I work at a place which prides itself on a live-and-let-live atmosphere. In conservative professions like law and I-banking you carry a lot of bags before you get to rule the school, because there is serious money at stake. The people I know who ignore the prevailing dress norms have proven themselves, and rest assured they put the hours in. And no partner wants their guy friday to look better than him.
    I think this is a very American attitude. Of course, in any culture, wearing intrusive clothing is probably not going to bode well, but really, being well-dressed in a generally restrained way is not something that's going to be regarded as deviant or as they say, uppity.
     
  2. Mentos

    Mentos Senior member

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    eing well-dressed in a generally restrained way is not something that's going to be regarded as deviant or as they say, uppity.


    I totally agree--I would never be afraid of some sort of ostracization for wearing well made clothing that is in keeping with the situation. You just ahve to be able to read the situation, and the american law officer generally is no longer a formal place.

    I guesss my point is simply that junior professionals are in danger of not understanding their worki culture and thereby making unintentionally negative impressions. Of course, the greatest danger, in my experience, comes not from dressing too well, but from associates who treat people badly because they think they're above the staff, juniors, etc and associates who think they can collect the paycheck and hang on without creating good work product. Whose folks get a rude awakening sooner or later. At least at firms I've seen.
     
  3. Mentos

    Mentos Senior member

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    Moreover, it pisses me off when my outside counsel dress like bums. I pay them enough - spend some cash on a decent suit. NO business casual shit either.

    I hope you're making your wishes known to your outside counsel. I frequently hear tales of lawyers showing up at the client's for the first time to find themselves the only dark suit in a sea of Hawaiian shirts. It's a total crap shoot at businesses these days--lawyers have to ask ahead to be sure they make the right first impression.

    And if a junior lawyer is doing a doc review on site, I don't see why it matters what they wear. It's the client's call, but it makes no sense to me.
     
  4. odoreater

    odoreater Senior member

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    Odoreater, this is ridiculous as usual. You see a post that, on a forum that generally looks down on business casual, talks about wearing a check shirt or a pink tie or tan shoes to work. Then you bust your nuts crying foul about "flamboyant outfits" and a new employee trying to stand out from everyone else?

    This is kind of funny. Somebody who is still in law school asks for advice on how something will be perceived in a law firm environment. Somebody who practices in a law firm environment gives them advice and their opinion, albeit, not the opinion that they were looking for, and they get called ridiculous. I'm not crying "foul" about anything. You can wear whatever the hell you want - you don't have to have my, or the forum's, approval about everything you wear. But, you'll see that what this forum thinks is good and acceptable is not always what is good and acceptable in the conservative halls of large law firms.

    Like I said, my firm is business casual, but I wear a suit almost every day because that's the nature of my practice area and the culture in my practice group is slightly different than the rest of the firm. But, that doesn't mean that I wear suits that would not be acceptable for business in ordinary business situations. I don't take more leeway with the suits that I wear because my firm has a business casual policy. But, my own personal goal is to never be perceived as flamboyant or eccentric, but to be perceived as serious and dependable.
     
  5. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I do not know law firm culture because, thankfully, I only visit you people as a client and am never required to stay.

    I think that one of the points that is being missed here is the assumption that wearing louder shirts, more interesting suits and more interesting ties will make you look better. You would be best served dressing in a way that looked good but was still appropriate for your office. If you want to wear khakis and a sweater, that should be fine as it is business casual. If you want to wear a suit, wear a grey (or blue or striped) one, a nice shirt and a simple tie. If you get too creative for creativity's sakeyou may not be dressed too flamboyantly for the office, but you will probably look ridiculous. Looking ridiculous is always bad, no matter where you work.
     
  6. odoreater

    odoreater Senior member

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    Matt, I could not agree more. And whether something looks good, and is appropriate for whatever environment a person finds himself in, is a decision that has to be made based on the individual circumstances.
     
  7. Master Shake

    Master Shake Senior member

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    Odoreater, this is ridiculous as usual. You see a post that, on a forum that generally looks down on business casual, talks about wearing a check shirt or a pink tie or tan shoes to work. Then you bust your nuts crying foul about "flamboyant outfits" and a new employee trying to stand out from everyone else?
    Dude, if you came to my law firm dressed in a check shirt, pink tie, tan shoes, and an interesting suit, you would definitely draw unwanted attention to your clothing. While I don't fully share in odoreater's sober attitude, I think he's basically right. As we say at my work, although we are a business casual environment, we are not a casual business environment.

    Don't fall into the mistake of thinking that just because you are actually dressing up "nicer" than most other associates because you wear a suit or sportscoat you can get away with a more casual suit or sportscoat, etc. For instance, I come to work in either a suit or sportscoat basically every day. I'd say maybe 5-10% of the other associates do this from time to time. This doesn't mean I can come to work in an orange-on-navy double-windowpane sportscoat with peak lapels and hacking pockets (or similarly "smart" attire), even if I might think that would be a great look outside of the office.
     
  8. dirk diggler

    dirk diggler Senior member

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    Your outside counsel may be thinking that if they wear too nice a suit when meeting with you, you'll ask them to knock down their bill. A choice between a __% fee reduction and leaving the Brioni at home is no choice at all. [​IMG]

    actually, I start thinking fee reductions when they tell me about their summer/winter home somewhere really nice and expensive or when I visit their offices and see a few paintings worth a couple of Mil apiece.
     
  9. dirk diggler

    dirk diggler Senior member

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    I hope you're making your wishes known to your outside counsel. I frequently hear tales of lawyers showing up at the client's for the first time to find themselves the only dark suit in a sea of Hawaiian shirts. It's a total crap shoot at businesses these days--lawyers have to ask ahead to be sure they make the right first impression.

    And if a junior lawyer is doing a doc review on site, I don't see why it matters what they wear. It's the client's call, but it makes no sense to me.


    they know we are "business casual" here and sometimes they show up as such. Of course, those with any sense know the senior people wear suits so they at least put on a sportcoat and tie. Better to wear a suit and take the tie off then the opposite.
     
  10. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    What are fun ties and fun shirts?

    I imagine it's something awful like Hawaiian shirts or Garfield ties.

    I don't know. Perhaps if Jose finds employment at one of the bizcaz places we will be able to answer that question along with the one about where an Asian from a tropical country can find fun ties in Boston and New York, and the one about how much they should cost, a hundred or two times [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  11. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    this is really surprising specially because it involves members of the legal profession, whom i always believed should always be in proper decorum (so you wont be guarded once they stab you in the back! haha [​IMG] ) anyway, if i were in need of a alwyer, and i step in to an office where they counsel is dressed in casual wear, the first phrase that would enter my mind is "ambulance chaser".
    FWIW, "ambulance chasers" and other plaintiff-side lawyers that represent a relatively unsophisticated clientele (clearly this is a very broad generalization, but one based in anecdotal experience) tend to overdress (at least in terms of flamboyance, labels, etc.) rather than underdress. The idea, as I understand it, is that if the clients know you drive a Jaguar and wear an Armani suit, they're going to read those facts as signs that you're sucessful and are more likely to get them some money.
    I usually wear a suit to the office, although not always. But if there's even a possibility that I may be meeting with a client, I wear a suit to show respect for the responsibility they are entrusting to me. There are, however, exceptions. For example, I have a corporate client in Silicon Valley where there's a very "hip" anti-suit ethos, and the prevailing dress code is khaki's and polo shirts. When I attend meetings there I don't wear a suit (the first couple times I went up there I was specifically told not to "bother" to bring a suit), but I generally will wear nice trousers and shoes, a button-down shirt, and a sports coat or blazer so as to convey respect and professionalism without overdressing to the extent of making anyone uncomfortable.
     
  12. JBZ

    JBZ Senior member

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    I thought Jose was only in the U.S. to get his LLM and would then be going back to his former firm. Jose - are you thinking of staying, or is this more of a hypothetical query?

    Also, I would agree with the general advice that you should learn the general culture of your firm before you decide how you're going to dress (to the extent "fitting in" matters to you). I will say that, having worked in two business casual environments, people who choose to dress casually do so. They don't experiment with different kinds of "less traditional" suits. Those who choose to continue to wear a suit generally dress fairly conservatively and wear a tie.

    Frankly, if you want to continue to wear a suit, I think that's fine. On the other hand, I have no idea why you'd simultaneously say you're embracing the idea of business casual, but continue to wear a suit. If you want to dress casually, dress casually.
     
  13. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    To follow up on what JBZ (and likely others) said: dressing "casual" and dressing flamboyantly are not the same thing, and may convey very different impressions about the wearer.
     
  14. JBZ

    JBZ Senior member

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    Probably so. But really, the idea that it's an employment "perk" is pretty laughable to me. Others may disagree, but given the scale of challenges and rewards associated with working at a large New York law firm, the notion that the dress code should be an important consideration seems ludicrous. There is a firm here in Los Angeles used to use (and may still use - I'm a bit outside the target demongraphic for their recruiting efforts these days) the fact that it had no dress code - ie., you could show up in ripped shorts and a mesh t-shirt if you wanted - as a major selling point in recruiting new associates. The trade-off was that people were expected to bill ungodly hours, even by the standards of large law firms. Now, as then, the appeal of being "allowed" to wear sweatpants and flip-flops while slaving away in the office at 2:00 a.m. escapes me.

    My favorite types of perks in big law firms go something like this:

    - Interviewer (giving a prospective associate a tour): "...and this is our cafeteria. It stays open every night until 3 a.m. On the next floor, you'll see our shower rooms, which can be used at any time."

    - Prospective associate: "Oh, really? That's great." (and then, after a beat, thinking to him/herself - "Wait. What?").
     
  15. odoreater

    odoreater Senior member

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    I love how they list BlackBerrys as perks. "Here you go, here's a little gizmo for you to play around with the first day you get it and that we can later use to hunt you down no matter where you go." These things are amazing, you can open and read an entire document that's sent as a word attachment on it.
     
  16. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    I love how they list BlackBerrys as perks. "Here you go, here's a little gizmo for you to play around with the first day you get it and that we can later use to hunt you down no matter where you go." These things are amazing, you can open and read an entire document that's sent as a word attachment on it.
    I've refused to get one. To me, part of being a man in full is maintaining the ability to disappear into the bathroom with the sports page when you feel like it without being "reachable" by the entire world.
     
  17. chorse123

    chorse123 Senior member

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    Unfortunatley business casual is just a different uniform, and not a license to unleash one's sartorial whimsy.
     
  18. JBZ

    JBZ Senior member

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    I've refused to get one. To me, part of being a man in full is maintaining the ability to disappear into the bathroom with the sports page when you feel like it without being "reachable" by the entire world.

    +1000
     
  19. Master Shake

    Master Shake Senior member

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    My favorite types of perks in big law firms go something like this:

    - Interviewer (giving a prospective associate a tour): "...and this is our cafeteria. It stays open every night until 3 a.m. On the next floor, you'll see our shower rooms, which can be used at any time."

    - Prospective associate: "Oh, really? That's great." (and then, after a beat, thinking to him/herself - "Wait. What?").

    While being given the cafeteria tour at a LARGE firm with offices overlooking Times Square (that should be enough clues), I was told, "Oh, and you have a great view of Times Square from here. It's really great on New Year's, you can see the ball drop."
     
  20. Patrick Bateman

    Patrick Bateman Senior member

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    I don't think that made it into the Skadden brochure.
     

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