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Can clothes make the lawyer?

Can clothes make the lawyer?

Fashion stylists offer tips on how to dress to command respect, inspire trust and convey a polished, professional image.

Bridgette Kirk (pictured) and Amy Billington-Li from The Style Agency claim that clothing can play a role in gaining a client’s trust and the respect of colleagues. Scuffed shoes or a crooked tie, for example, can be a reflection of the lawyer’s attention-to-detail in the eyes of a client, Billington-Li explained.

Even those who dress smartly can let their look down by wearing an ill-fitting suit, she added, urging lawyers to invest in a well-fitting suit that complements their frame.

“A bespoke fit from a tailor can’t be beaten and most high-end designers offer this service to their customers free-of-charge,” she told Lawyers Weekly.

To female lawyers who aren’t required to wear suits, Kirk recommends a selection of smart, tailored, knee-length dresses in block colours such as black, grey, navy, cream or burgundy.

A common fashion faux pas among lawyers is “dressing like a cliché”, said Kirk. She advises both men and women to carefully accessorise if they want to stand out from the suited crowd.

“Putting touches of your own personality into your everyday look will help you stand out from the sea of black and white suits,” she said, adding that women can add a silk scarf to a corporate-style dress, while men can complement a tailored suit with a smart watch.

Science appears to back the stylists’ view that you are what you wear. Recent research from Northwestern University in the US suggests that clothing can influence how individuals behave and, subsequently, perform in the workplace.

The study examined the concept of “enclothed cognition”, which is defined as “the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes”.

“Although the saying goes that clothes do not make the man, our results suggest that they do hold a strange power over their wearers,” study authors Adam Galinsky and Adam Hajo write.

To support their hypothesis, the researchers distributed white lab coats to participants, telling some that it was a doctor’s coat and others that it was a painter’s smock. All participants performed the same task, but those wearing the ‘doctor’s coat’ were more careful and attentive.

The researchers concluded that individual performance can be influenced by their clothing.

 

Special offer to Lawyers Weekly readers

The Style Agency is offering Lawyers Weekly readers a $50 gift voucher towards any of its personal styling and hair and makeup services. Simply visit the Lawyers Weekly Facebook page and under the post ‘What does your wardrobe say about you?’, list an item of clothing that reflects your personality.

Anyone who posts a comment will be sent an electronic gift voucher, which must be redeemed by 30 April 2013.

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