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How to not step on the boss' toes?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by odoreater, May 5, 2005.

  1. Ambulance Chaser

    Ambulance Chaser Senior member

    Mar 7, 2002
    Washington, D.C.
    Agree with everything JBZ said.  Wearing a nice suit is different from driving a nice car (see previous thread started by Renault asking for car recommendations) -- most people aren't going to be able to tell the difference between Kiton and Men's Wearhouse.  If you wear a suit, people will think you are well-dressed, and you will endear yourself to some old-schoolers who hate business casual.  I would stay away from flashy cufflinks and pocket squares, however, unless that's standard attire for the office.  

    What you wear as a summer associate doesn't matter at all unless it's really sloppy.  Most summer associate programs are a complete joke.  You'll probably need to complete 2 or 3 assignments and do a decent job on them.  Most firms write off summer associate work anyways.

    I have heard someone say that making partner at a large law firm "is like winning a pie-eating contest.  The prize is more pie."  That's why I'm no longer at a big firm either.
  2. alchimiste

    alchimiste Senior member

    Feb 2, 2005
    a fine country
  3. JBZ

    JBZ Senior member

    Oct 14, 2003
    You're the first. [​IMG]
    An apt description, and one I've heard before as well. More power to the people who are able to do the large firm thing for the long haul. The money can certainly be very good (although, I think, for the vast majority, it's not as good as the public perception). Personally, it's more important to me to see my wife and son on a regular basis.
  4. bch

    bch Senior member

    Jul 28, 2004
  5. cpac

    cpac Senior member

    Apr 7, 2005
    [off topic]
    Couple of points:

    (1) re compensation. At most of the large firms, associates at least, are paid on a lock-step basis (or on some other mathmatical equation based on billed hours). There's not much room here for your dress habits to change compensation.

    (2) re large firm hours. Yes, they can be long, but they need not necessarily be as insane as some people are making them out to be. Maybe I just picked the right firm, but I haven't worked more than a couple weekends since I started last year, and while getting out at 6 is definitely early (5:30 is the end of the official business day at most firms), that doesn't necessarily mean you're staying until midnight every night. Most of the time I leave either at 7:30/8 (when getting dinner at home or out with my wife), or at 10 or 10:30 if I do have dinner at the firm. I know I'll get busier in the coming years, but so far at least, things are not insane.

    [/off topic]

    Back to the real topic. Your dress, at a large firm in the city, will not make or break your career as long as you are within normal bounds of reasonable business attire. The bottom line is that you should dress in a way that makes *you* feel comfortable/professional (within these limits). As others have hinted, there is a very large chance that you will not spend very much of your career at a large firm.
  6. Style Counsel

    Style Counsel Member

    Feb 18, 2005
    My 2 cents would be: as a summer associate, try to dress in a style similar to the well-dressed senior associates/junior partners, and don't overdo it with flash, at least during business hours.

    Most important things: whether people like working with you, and whether they feel you are enthusiastic and dedicated to the assignments they give you.
  7. HeyYouItsMike

    HeyYouItsMike Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2004
    This is a really funny issue. If you wear nice clothes, very often people will think you're rich. I think this issue comes into play if you're overly flashy or underperforming. And I agree that most people don't know the difference between an Oxxford and a piece of junk. For instance, I've been getting a lot of compliments on this $200 piece of junk I've been wearing since I put on weight.

    At one of my previous jobs (I am a slob again since most of my nice clothes don't fit anymore) people thought I was very wealthy. I was just good at hunting the deals. I find it illogical to pay $80 for a Banana Republic sweater when I can get a Canali on sale for $50.
  8. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Law firm hours aren't "insane" when compared to say, the hours of an ER resident. The problem is that you are truly at the mercy of the client, as well as partners who could call at any minute. So, on days when I have literally no work -- or finish with my work by 4 or 5 pm -- I have to sit on my ass in my office "just in case" until 6:30. And then if someone calls me at 6:30 for some idiotic conference call that I don't need to be on, all of the sudden it's 8:30 when I get home. Sure, there are weeks when I leave the office at 5 pm every day, but those times are rare. I think that the idea that getting home at 8 pm -- time enough to have dinner with the wife -- is "normal" or "sufficient" is just crazy.

    As for dress, flashy and cheap will draw more attention than expensive and understated. For example, there is a guy in my office who wears very cheap suits, but they are in loud "clubby" fabrics, and he pairs them with "stripey" and loud ties. This will draw much more attention than anything of the $2500 suits I have in my closet. The brilliance of an expensive suit is that, unless you know what your are looking for, it doesn't look expensive. It just looks good.
  9. Carlo

    Carlo Senior member

    Aug 22, 2003
    Amen... and thank you.

    I once worked for a woman who actually advised other women not to dress well or do makeup because they should look smart, not pretty.

    She bitched at me one day for wearing a sportcoat and tie to give my presentation because 'you are supposed to be the technical expert, not a fashion model'

    My reply was something like... "Perhaps, but there is nothing inappropriate about a man wearing a coat and tie when presenting to the C-level guys on a large deal. It isn't like a 250 pound woman showing up in the boardroom in stretch pants and an untucked shirt without washing her hair for a week or something equally disrespectful".

    Oh well, I'm doing something I like now, she's still ugly and a nasty b.tch... getting out of there was a good thing :)

    ...Probably not a smart thing to say but if dressing well intimidates someone else then perhaps the problem is that they need to dress better and not that you need to out-slob them.

    PS> Do as I dress, not as I say.

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