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Dressing too well?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Motol12, Jul 21, 2008.

  1. manofstyle

    manofstyle Senior member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    England
    A funny thing happened to me in court today. The verdict came back in a five day trial I had been on, and the defendant was found not guilty on all counts, I lost big time. Any time I finish a trial and I have time, and the judge agrees, I ask if any of the jurors are interested in speaking with me about the case. This time one of the jurors told me "I really found myself distracted by how you were dressed. I mean, with the cufflinks and pocket thingy and everything you just screamed 'slick, silver-tounged lawyer' and I couldn't really trust what you were saying." That really surprised me, so I remembered what I wore on all four days of the trial, and I'm just wondering what your thoughts are on the waredrobe choices and if you share the opinion of the juror.

    Day 1 (jury selection, opening statements, some witnesses): White french cuff shirt from Brooks Brothers, grey pinstripe Hickey Freeman 'Madison', and a solid medium blue necktie.

    Day 2: (More witnesses): Light blue contrast coller french cuff shirt from Ben Silver, three-piece navy pinstriped suit suit from RLPL (vintage), and a red necktie with a subdued white paisely print necktie from JoS A. Bank.

    Day 3: (More witnesses): White french cuff shirt with blue/grey stripes from Armani Collezioni, brown nailhead suit from Paul Stuart, and a grey necktie with white pencil stripes.

    Day 4: (More witnesses): French blue button cuff shirt from Ben Silver, charcoal grey suit from the JoS A. Bank Signature Gold collection, and a black necktie with french blue dots (small but noticable) from Ralph Lauren Chaps.

    Day 5: (Final witnesses, closing arguments and jury deliberation): Bespoke white french cuff shirt from Turnbull and Asser, navy suit from Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece, and a red necktie with navy blue pencil stripes from Brooks Brothers.

    Day 6: (jury deliberation and verdict): Ecru button-cuff shirt from JoS. A Bank, tan suit from Ben Silver, and a medium and light blue alternating dot tie with a tan box pattern around each dot from Bill Blass.

    On all days but three I wore black wingtip shoes (brown on day three,) and on every day I wore a linen pocket square with an architect fold.

    This might seem petty and strange, but this trial was the result of several years of preparation and I'd hate to think that something I take pride in (my appearence) had a measured effect on the outcome.


    It's unhealthy that you remember all of this.
     
  2. MrDaniels

    MrDaniels Senior member

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    Check this out:

    http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/2...EJ28HXMPAJLg--

    The attorney's name is Jose Baez and he is defending that woman in Forida who is accused of murdering her child. You have got to be KIDDING me (and what is he doing with a vest in Florida in July?)
     
  3. Limniscate

    Limniscate Senior member

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    TX
    OP how long have you worked in the NYC DA's office? Where'd you go to law school? You must have done well; I heard that's a tough job to get. I just graduated from UT and am taking the bar next week.

    My professor for advanced criminal defense always told us not to use fancy words and to watch how we dress in front of a jury.
     
  4. dirk diggler

    dirk diggler Senior member

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    I'm only 22 and still in school so you are correct I don't have the big corner office with the view but please give me a few years before you start giving me a hard time. But If its that big a deal to you, my mum is an executive. Hopefully take your kid to work day is coming up soon, I could go hang out with her for a day.

    I would suggest you take a moment or two to re-read my post in relation to yours. The reference was to how poorly they dress as well.
     
  5. cpac

    cpac Senior member

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    Apr 7, 2005
    I once worked with a litigator who had an interesting approach to his wardrobe. Outside of the courtroom, he wore nice, well-tailored suits with quality shirts and ties -- clothes commensurate with his position in society. At trial, he wore an inexpensive, ill-fitting suit in order to be perceived as an ordinary guy who was forced to dress up for court. It worked well for him.

    I think this is conventional wisdom among litigators faced with a jury trial. Honestly, I'm surprised the O.P. didn't consider the probable effect of his dress upon jury perception.
     
  6. cpac

    cpac Senior member

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    My professor for advanced criminal defense always told us not to use fancy words and to watch how we dress in front of a jury.

    Would that be Luna? He's got a good point.
     
  7. Limniscate

    Limniscate Senior member

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    TX
    Dick DeGuerin. He defended New York real estate billionaire, Robert Durst, in the murder of his neighbor in Galveston, TX. Durst claimed self defense, and the jury bought it even though he chopped his neighbor up into pieces afterwards.

    DeGuerin totally called out one of my classmates for using the word "mendacious." He told us that we have to get rid of our "lawbotomies."
     
  8. grimslade

    grimslade Senior member

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    I'd avoid french cuffs and contrast collars in a courtroom myself. But I'm not a lawyer.
     
  9. mt_spiffy

    mt_spiffy Senior member

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    Madison, WI
    I'd avoid french cuffs and contrast collars in a courtroom myself. But I'm not a lawyer.

    (hold coffee cup, lean against witness stand, look down glasses at jury): What's . . . happening. So, . . . you should find the defendant guilty, mmmkay? . . . And . . . we're also going to need you to be sequestered on . . . Sunday.
     
  10. grimslade

    grimslade Senior member

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    (hold coffee cup, lean against witness stand, look down glasses at jury): What's . . . happening. So, . . . you should find the defendant guilty, mmmkay? . . . And . . . we're also going to need you to be sequestered on . . . Sunday.

    ???
     
  11. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    office space reference.
     
  12. grimslade

    grimslade Senior member

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    office space reference.

    Thanks. Makes sense now.
     
  13. 82-Greg

    82-Greg Senior member

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    Maryland
    You might be interested in reading Dress for Success: http://www.amazon.com/John-Molloys-N...496583-8314414

    The author goes into great depth discussing how to dress when dealing with people of varying levels of sophistication. The book is a bit over the top, and somewhat outdated, but a lot of what the author says makes sense.

    You might want to try dressing down in court. Conservative solid colour shirts (white is best). Button cuff shirts instead of french. Solid colour suits instead of pinstripes. Black shoes always.

    You might look like a politician but they dress that way for a reason. Their clothing gives the impression that they are more trustworthy (according to the book).



    The politician's dress "code" always works. (It must be a "code" if they all dress the same exact way regardless of political inclinations, party affiliations or electability.) Remember the politician's dress "code" has had extensive market research across the country and tested in every segment of society.
     
  14. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Constantinople
    Dick DeGuerin. He defended New York real estate billionaire, Robert Durst, in the murder of his neighbor in Galveston, TX. Durst claimed self defense, and the jury bought it even though he chopped his neighbor up into pieces afterwards. DeGuerin totally called out one of my classmates for using the word "mendacious." He told us that we have to get rid of our "lawbotomies."
    I don't consider mendacious a "big word". I think this is a good reason for not ever wanting to enter the legal profession--having to pander to the bullshit expectations of people and their facades.
     
  15. WorkingClassHero

    WorkingClassHero Active Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Chicago
    It's not only how you're dressed, it is how you carry yourself while dressed.
     
  16. OxxfordSJLINY

    OxxfordSJLINY Senior member

    Messages:
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    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Location:
    Coram, New York, United States of America, 11767
    A funny thing happened to me in court today. The verdict came back in a five day trial I had been on, and the defendant was found not guilty on all counts, I lost big time. Any time I finish a trial and I have time, and the judge agrees, I ask if any of the jurors are interested in speaking with me about the case. This time one of the jurors told me "I really found myself distracted by how you were dressed. I mean, with the cufflinks and pocket thingy and everything you just screamed 'slick, silver-tounged lawyer' and I couldn't really trust what you were saying." That really surprised me, so I remembered what I wore on all four days of the trial, and I'm just wondering what your thoughts are on the waredrobe choices and if you share the opinion of the juror.

    Day 1 (jury selection, opening statements, some witnesses): White french cuff shirt from Brooks Brothers, grey pinstripe Hickey Freeman 'Madison', and a solid medium blue necktie.

    Day 2: (More witnesses): Light blue contrast coller french cuff shirt from Ben Silver, three-piece navy pinstriped suit suit from RLPL (vintage), and a red necktie with a subdued white paisely print necktie from JoS A. Bank.

    Day 3: (More witnesses): White french cuff shirt with blue/grey stripes from Armani Collezioni, brown nailhead suit from Paul Stuart, and a grey necktie with white pencil stripes.

    Day 4: (More witnesses): French blue button cuff shirt from Ben Silver, charcoal grey suit from the JoS A. Bank Signature Gold collection, and a black necktie with french blue dots (small but noticable) from Ralph Lauren Chaps.

    Day 5: (Final witnesses, closing arguments and jury deliberation): Bespoke white french cuff shirt from Turnbull and Asser, navy suit from Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece, and a red necktie with navy blue pencil stripes from Brooks Brothers.

    Day 6: (jury deliberation and verdict): Ecru button-cuff shirt from JoS. A Bank, tan suit from Ben Silver, and a medium and light blue alternating dot tie with a tan box pattern around each dot from Bill Blass.

    On all days but three I wore black wingtip shoes (brown on day three,) and on every day I wore a linen pocket square with an architect fold.

    This might seem petty and strange, but this trial was the result of several years of preparation and I'd hate to think that something I take pride in (my appearence) had a measured effect on the outcome.


    Are pencil stripes the same as tennis stripes? A Style Forum member recently basically described tennis stripes as chalkstripes (which are .2 of a centimeter thick and thicker) that are as thin as pinstripes (which are .1 of a centimeter thick).
     
  17. Noah.Dreams

    Noah.Dreams Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    45
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2009
    Yeah, you nailed it.

    What he said.
    I'm very sorry to hear this, especially if the outcome of the trial really was shaped by your appearance. You'd think jurors would understand that they are charged with making a decision based on the evidence, not on your pocket square. But, if nothing else, it's a valuable lesson on how strongly people can react to our clothing choices. For a lawyer, there really is such a thing as being too nicely dressed. Same is true for those starting out in the workplace, and for those who are dependent on impressing others for their living. There's a reason politicians dress only so well.

    Most of your choices sound fine individually. But they might assemble into a slicker whole, depending on how flashy the cut and cloth, and on whether the clothes still have that sheen of newness. I would, however, suggest you omit the contrast-collar shirts from future trials. I've found people often a very visceral reaction to them, and to anything that varies too widely from what they see every day. Even brown suits and vests strike me as something of a risk, particularly if you have a good chance of drawing a blue-collar jury. If you really want to be a man of the people, stick to solid shirts and barrel cuffs. Can't go wrong with those. Bear in mind, many jurors are looking for something to dislike. Keeps them from having to focus on the testimony.

    Ultimately, though, I wouldn't worry too much about it. One juror is not representative of the whole, and if it weren't your clothing, it could easily be some other crazy rationale.
     
  18. Nicola

    Nicola Senior member

    Messages:
    2,952
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    Feb 1, 2009
    I'm glad that zombies are still walking the earth.

    Aren't pencils thinner then chalk?

    About the OP who likely doesn't care anymore. If the star witness was a life long drunk that normally dressed in piss stained clothes you'd clean him up a little. But not too much. Right?

    It's not about blue/white/pink collar. You don't wear a dinner jacket to breakfast.
     
  19. Mark Seitelman

    Mark Seitelman Senior member

    Messages:
    812
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2004
    Location:
    New York City
    A funny thing happened to me in court today. The verdict came back in a five day trial I had been on, and the defendant was found not guilty on all counts, I lost big time. Any time I finish a trial and I have time, and the judge agrees, I ask if any of the jurors are interested in speaking with me about the case. This time one of the jurors told me "I really found myself distracted by how you were dressed. I mean, with the cufflinks and pocket thingy and everything you just screamed 'slick, silver-tounged lawyer' and I couldn't really trust what you were saying." That really surprised me, so I remembered what I wore on all four days of the trial, and I'm just wondering what your thoughts are on the waredrobe choices and if you share the opinion of the juror.

    Day 1 (jury selection, opening statements, some witnesses): White french cuff shirt from Brooks Brothers, grey pinstripe Hickey Freeman 'Madison', and a solid medium blue necktie.

    Day 2: (More witnesses): Light blue contrast coller french cuff shirt from Ben Silver, three-piece navy pinstriped suit suit from RLPL (vintage), and a red necktie with a subdued white paisely print necktie from JoS A. Bank.

    Day 3: (More witnesses): White french cuff shirt with blue/grey stripes from Armani Collezioni, brown nailhead suit from Paul Stuart, and a grey necktie with white pencil stripes.

    Day 4: (More witnesses): French blue button cuff shirt from Ben Silver, charcoal grey suit from the JoS A. Bank Signature Gold collection, and a black necktie with french blue dots (small but noticable) from Ralph Lauren Chaps.

    Day 5: (Final witnesses, closing arguments and jury deliberation): Bespoke white french cuff shirt from Turnbull and Asser, navy suit from Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece, and a red necktie with navy blue pencil stripes from Brooks Brothers.

    Day 6: (jury deliberation and verdict): Ecru button-cuff shirt from JoS. A Bank, tan suit from Ben Silver, and a medium and light blue alternating dot tie with a tan box pattern around each dot from Bill Blass.

    On all days but three I wore black wingtip shoes (brown on day three,) and on every day I wore a linen pocket square with an architect fold.

    This might seem petty and strange, but this trial was the result of several years of preparation and I'd hate to think that something I take pride in (my appearence) had a measured effect on the outcome.


    I would first like to thank everyone for their insight and feedback, and would also like to try and clarify a few points.

    First, as to celery, who believes I am a douchebag because of the way I listed my attire. I listed my day to day clothing choices like that because I felt it would help the reader get a picture of the "look" of the items. This is a group of people who are well-versed in those matters and I felt it would help. I did not do it to be pretentious, although I am sorry if it came across like that. In the future I will simply list them as celery has suggested.

    Second, to those who have asked how I conducted myself during the trial. Obviously, I am not the best judge of my actions as I am inherently bias. I can only give you my thoughts. I am certainly not a screaming courtroom brawler a la Bruce Cutler or Johnny Cochran. I am a very measured direct examiner, who speaks in a balanced but forceful tone of voice. On cross examination I'm mostly the same, I rarely (if ever) yell or raise my voice signifigantly. Instead I simply remain calm and ask questions of the witness. For example in this case, when the defense's forensic expert was giving an evasive answer to my question, I simply repeated it. Some attorneys may have added a snarky comment at the end, or used sarcasm. I simply repeated it hoping the jury would understand why I was doing so. Attorneys who's opinions I trust say I can be a bit boring in the courtroom and I agree with them. I think this was a problem with this case, I spent a lot of time going into detail about forensics and prior bad act evidence that the human drama aspect of the case (poor vulnerable woman almost gets killed during a carjacking) gets lost.

    Third, to those who asked if I was acting like a "big city lawyer." I am a big city lawyer, I prosecute crimes in New York City. This was not a rural atmosphere or jury. In fact, four of the twelve jurors made a six figure income.

    I would just like to reiterate my thanks to everyone who has given feedback.



    It was the Turnbull & Asser shirt that did you in!

    Seriously, your clothing sounds fine. There appears to be nothing outlandish, showy, or dandyish.

    I'm a personal injury attorney, and I try cases.

    The juror's statement makes no sense. I don't think that he knows what he is talking about. You're in a big city, NYC. You are a big city lawyer. He is saying that you have characteristics of the sterotypical defense attorney, i.e., rich looking clothing. You're not showing-off wealthy clothing earned from drug dealers' fees. Your're a prosecutor. My sense is that the juror did not like you and your case, and his opinion would not have changed if you wore a potato sack.

    It is also telling that the jury voted a straight 12-0. If the jury were divided there would have been a hung jury.

    There is nothing wrong with dressing well in New York City. Some of the most successful trial lawyers dress very well. It is expected in NYC. Some even dress in a very mannered and dandyish manner. In rural precincts some of these lawyers tone it down a bit. Some don't. You just have to pick a personal style that is right for you.

    After 30 years of lawyering, I feel that a case lives and dies on the facts and the witnesses and the attitudes of the jury pool. The lawyer is important, but ultimately, your case is only as good as the facts, client, witnesses, etc.

    Don't dress pursuant to the dictates of the fora. Be yourself.

    Incidentally, on one of my cases, which settled in mid-trial, a juror commented that they noticed my fine clothes. I did not see this as a problem because that is who I am. I would feel uncomfortable wearing a burlap sack. Also, this was a contested case. I do not think that I would have won or lost because I had surgeon cuffs.

    Good luck. The only trial lawyers with a 100% success rate are the ones who never try cases.
     
  20. OxxfordSJLINY

    OxxfordSJLINY Senior member

    Messages:
    659
    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Location:
    Coram, New York, United States of America, 11767
    I'm glad that zombies are still walking the earth.

    Aren't pencils thinner then chalk?

    About the OP who likely doesn't care anymore. If the star witness was a life long drunk that normally dressed in piss stained clothes you'd clean him up a little. But not too much. Right?

    It's not about blue/white/pink collar. You don't wear a dinner jacket to breakfast.


    I am not 100% sure about the following, but.....:

    I think that pencil stripes (a.k.a. tennis stripes?) are basically thin chalkstripes. However, I do know for a fact that chalkstripes are .2 of a centimeter thick and thicker. Pencil stripes (if they are the same as tennis stripes) are .1 of a centimeter thick. That is the only difference between chalkstripes and pencil stripes.
     

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