Susan Smith Blakely

Best Friends at the Bar: Young Women Lawyers and Peep-Toe Pumps

Editor's Note: Ms. JD is excited to announce that Susan Smith Blakely, author of Best Friends at the Bar, will be speaking at Ms. JD: She Leads on October 5, 2012. This post originally appeared on the Best Friends at the Bar blog on June 23, 2011.

I am feeling a bit frivolous today, so I think I will get on the bandwagon and discuss Peep-Toe Pumps.  What is the issue you wonder—-about Peep-Toe Pumps?  To ask that is to acknowledge that you skipped the summer of 2010 when law bloggers, including Viva Chen of The Careerist and David Lat of Above the Law, took shots at deciding whether Peep-Toe Pumps were appropriate for the office.  In the end, all seemed to agree that this particular foot gear was appropriate, although, by the time that consensus was reached, it is questionable whether anyone cared.

The question of attire in the office, however, is typically not trite subject matter.  You know from reading my book, Best Friends at the Bar:  What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law, that it can be very serious indeed.  Firms are busy updating dress codes, and judges are weighing in on the appropriateness of some attire in court rooms.  In fact, the Federal Judges of the 7th Circuit thought that it was important enough to discuss it at a judicial conference several years ago.  The litmus test for them seemed to be whether they could concentrate on arguments made by female attorneys dressed in certain attire—-you know, too much cleavage and thighs exposed.  If the judge could not concentrate on the argument, the attire was deemed inappropriate.  It was even suggested by a member of the bar attending the conference that the judges ought to talk to the offending women about their attire, but the judges thought that might violate ex parte rules.  Sure!  Dodged that bullet!

Summer is the time of temptation for inappropriate attire.  Flip flops are so comfortable and freeing. Short skirts take full advantage of the air conditioning, and who doesn’t want to expose a bit of midriff when the mercury is approaching 100?  But, fight those temptations with every fiber of your being. If exercising the appropriate restraint makes you feel shortchanged, just think about the men. The big summer fashion statement for them is short-sleeved dress shirts—-if, in fact, they have no fashion sense at all.  Or, seersucker, to add insult to injury. There just is no way out for them. They are stuck with coat and tie and long sleeves except, possibly, for casual Friday. And, in case you haven’t noticed, casual Friday may be on the way of the dinosaur. But, that might just be in my neck of the woods of Washington, DC.  We are seeing precious little blazer and khaki action on Fridays here compared with years past.

So, there you have it.  A place where you can feel that you are getting a better deal than the guys!  Celebrate summer, but remember that fall and winter—-when you find yourselves on at least equal fashion footing again (no pun intended)– are just around the corner.  Do not despair.  There is plenty of time for you to feel shortchanged again!

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