Lawyer Style Guide: 5 Tips For Male Lawyers

man in a suit

Dress Code: What Do Lawyers Wear

Historically, lawyers dress conservatively. Haberdasher Stephen Reeder sells fashion: “I sell a lot of grey and blue suits to attorneys.” And he’s got some advice, especially for those who would prefer a more casual look. He’s got lots of advice.

Following are 5 style guide tips.

What Do Lawyers Wear?

“If you’re going to be a professional, look like a professional.”

Reeder never understood why attorneys went casual. “Their suit was their coat of armor. They earned the right to wear a suit. Those in the legal profession were the last ones to go to the casual party. When casual Friday went casual all the time, law firms lost their air of professionalism. You never knew what was going to come walking down the hall.” Reeder thinks that jeans and a t-shirt are not the best option for a litigator.

1. What article of clothing should lawyers not skimp on?

I tell people to buy the most expensive suit you can afford. Don’t buy something on sale for $150. It’s going to fit you like a $150 suit. I’m not saying that you have to buy a three thousand dollar suit, but if you can afford a $500 suit or a thousand dollar suit, buy it.

And get it professionally tailored. If it’s not tailored properly, it looks like a cheap suit. Don’t ever scrimp on tailoring. You need a relationship with a tailor.

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2. If you don’t wear suits a lot, can you get just one suit?

A lot of people start their wardrobes with what we call “cornerstone” suits. You’ll go out and you’ll buy a dark suit: solid blue or grey striped. When you don’t have a large wardrobe if you’re just out of law school, you really want to start out basic.


3. What are basic necessities? Suit Colors

A dark suit: black or navy blue or grey suit. When in doubt: wear black.

Nifty trick with a black suit: Multiple Outfits

  • You can wear it as a tuxedo if you accessorize it right with a bow tie and cummerbund.
  • You’ve got a formal business suit and then you have a
  • black blazer and
  • black business casual trousers which you can wear with a dress shirt and dress shoes.

First impressions are crucial when meeting clients, court appearances, or going to a job interview: proper business attire, even post-pandemic, is expected.

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4. If someone were to dress casually, what are the cornerstone pieces?

A dress shirt (button-up shirt) and a blazer or sport coat, and khakis. A polo shirt won’t cut it. Dress shoes or loafers that are polished. We’re all wearing fancy socks now. Young guys are wearing their pants short so they can show off their fancy socks. Business dress takes some effort.

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5. If you can only afford one suit – how do you accessorize?


Different collared shirts and ties will change the look. [Reeder holds up a French blue suit.] A blue suit like this, you could wear this jacket with grey dress pants, different shirts and ties, maybe a striped tie because it’s a sport coat. And then when you wear it as a suit, a big paisley tie with this would look great. This would give you a couple different outfits. And then you could wear the coat with jeans.

I tell people that I deal with cloth and thread but I really deal with dreams and happiness and brighter futures if they allow me to work with them. When they get dressed in the morning with the outfits that we put together and they put them on and they feel good. That’s when I feel good. We dress for the fact that we feel good about ourselves.

Stephen Reeder can be found at Tom James Company.