Enrolling into law school can be nerve-wracking in more ways than one. All before your 1L semester starts, you’ll have to purchase textbooks, start preparing for your classes, and maybe even move into housing near campus. And throughout this busy time, you may find yourself wondering – what should I wear?
Even though law school is a professional school, you won’t be required (or expected) to wear a formal outfit every day – chances are your regular wardrobe will be just fine to get you through your studies. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put thought and effort into your law school fashion choices.
Why You Should Care About Your Outfit
Making a good impression on both your professors and classmates is one of the most important parts of law school. There is no dress code in law school, and while it’s true you won’t need to be decked out in formal wear every day, you should still take time to ensure your outfit is appropriate.
Dressing in clothes that are stained, ripped, or stretched out may send a signal to those around you that you are not serious about your legal education or that you don’t take pride in how you look. No matter what style of outfit you are wearing, you should always make sure that your clothes are clean and appropriate.
What to Wear to Orientation
Orientation is your first look into law school life, and usually the first time you will be meeting your professors and classmates. You should attend this event in business casual attire. Some of your classmates may be wearing more formal clothing, such as suits, but that is not a necessity unless specified by your school.
When dressing business casual, men should stay away from items such as t-shirts, baggy jeans, and shorts. You should also avoid bright colors, distracting patterns, and overly formal suit jackets.
Acceptable choices for business casual attire are dress slacks or trousers (like khakis), tighter-fitting sweaters with a collared shirt underneath, or cotton long-sleeved button-down shirts with a blazer. You should be wearing a proper set of dress shoes with your outfit.
In some cases, a fitted pair of jeans made from quality denim may be appropriate when worn with a collared button-down shirt or a collared shirt and sweater.
Business casual for women can encompass a lot of different styles. For bottoms, dress slacks or skirts are preferred. Make sure the skirt is not too short; longer skirts that fall around the mid-calf and ankle are acceptable.
For tops, select conservative blouses without too many embellishments. You could also wear a quality sweater or a cardigan over a more fitted blouse. Neutral colors are preferred.
Shoes can be either flats or pumps, usually in a darker color like black or brown. Heels may be acceptable as long as they are not too high.
Several business casual outfit examples can be found in this article.
What to Wear for Your Everyday Routine
Your everyday routine will most likely consist of attending class and spending time studying at home or in the library. You will want to wear comfortable clothes that you are able to move around in and spend a long amount of time wearing, though you should keep in mind that these clothes should not be too baggy or worn-out looking.
Remember that you will not need to regularly wear suits or formal-wear to class. However, when you have an interview or networking event directly after your lectures, it may be necessary to wear your more formal clothing to class in the interest of time.
Acceptable casual wear for men consists of comfortable jeans, t-shirts, or sweaters. Sweatpants may be ok as long as they are not too tight or too baggy. Anything you feel comfortable in that is not too revealing, displays crude images or words, or is dirty or poorly maintained will be ok to attend class in.
Casual wear for women consists of yoga pants or leggings (as long as they are not too tight), t-shirts, sweaters, sweatpants, or jeans. You can wear anything you are comfortable in that is not too tight, too revealing, or too dirty or baggy. Take care not to wear any clothing that displays foul language or images that are in poor taste.
What to Wear for School Events
Similar to orientation, you should be attending school events in business casual attire. At these events, you will often have the opportunity to meet important figures in the legal field and interact more closely with your professors. Your outfit should be professional and neutral without being too dressy or formal.
What to Wear for Job Interviews and Networking
Towards the end of your 1L year and into your 2 and 3L years, you’ll find yourself at interviews and networking events more often. This type of event requires the most formal outfits out of your law school wardrobe so you can be sure to make a great impression on everyone you meet.
A quality suit is a valuable item in every man’s wardrobe and is one of the best things to wear to interviews and networking events. Try to avoid black suits, and opt for colors such as navy or grey. You may also want to consider having a suit tailored to your body; this can give the outfit a more professional looking finish. For help selecting a suit, check out this guide.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to overspend to find a nice suit. Many department stores and affordable stores like H&M have a wide selection of quality suits that are not too expensive.
For women, pant suits and skirt suits are both acceptable. Any skirt suit you purchase should have the skirt falling around the knee; you don’t want to the skirt to be too short, but you also don’t want it to reach floor length.
You may want to put together a formal outfit using slacks, skirts, and blouses purchased separately. This is fine too, as long as the blouses are conservative – they should not feature many bright embellishments, loud patterns, or be too revealing. Spaghetti strap tops are ok as long as you cover the straps with a blazer at all times.
Typically, formal wear for women includes heels, but a nice pair of flats is also acceptable.
Women can find inexpensive suits and formal wear at stores like Macy’s, H&M, and Banana Republic. This article can help you find stores selling suits at all prices.
Dress for Success
Getting ready for law school can be a confusing and somewhat overwhelming task. However, you shouldn’t spend too much time agonizing over what to wear. As long as you have one or two formal outfits and a handful of comfortable and business casual clothing items at your disposal, you’ll be able to dress for success no matter what.