Melanie Potro

Melanie Potro, style coach

Why should how I dress matter more than my skills and qualifications you might ask?

It’s because a whopping 80 per cent of all communication is non-verbal. Though as children we are often advised to never judge a book by its cover, the harsh reality is that recruiters / interviewers DO use your appearance as an indicator of how professionally you’re likely to carry yourself at work. Indeed, this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise given law is part of the professional services sector and as a lawyer your role is client facing.

Wearing an appropriate outfit and looking the part signals you’re able to go into client meetings and represent your firm with confidence and that you understand the rules of the game. But what’s appropriate in the current climate when thanks to the pandemic the rules are constantly changing?

Here are my top five tips to make the right impression from the off:

  1. Research the law firm’s dress code. There is always one – official or not. Are there any official guidelines, and have you met people from the firm yet? Was there anything that stood out? Whilst some firms may have recently updated their policies and abandoned strict sartorial rules to become more modern and inclusive, your appearance should be business formal – which means a suit or dress and blazer- when attending a job interview or vacation scheme.


  1. Avoid making a fashion statement. As a lawyer, you want to come across as someone who is competent, trustworthy and professional. Go for a classic look with a ‘conservative’, primarily dark colour palette. Show your future employer that they can place you in front of their clients without any cause for embarrassment. Having an appreciation for your firm’s major clients and what they expect to see when meeting a lawyer will also demonstrate a degree of commercial awareness. For instance, clients in the tech and media sectors typically dress more casually than those in financial services. If in doubt, play it safe and opt for a single-breasted, dark-coloured suit in navy or charcoal grey, combined with a white or ivory top. Wear matching shoes that look smart, discreet and polished. And it goes without saying all clothing should be clean and ironed.


  1. Understand what styles work best for you. Find an outfit formula that works for you. Hate trousers? Make skirts your go-to. If you’re small, make sure your blazers don’t swamp you. Try out different combinations, take photos and decide which look works best for you.


  1. Pay particular attention to fit. The right fit can make the world of difference to your confidence. If you’re wearing clothes that fit well, you will look, act and seem more confident. If budget permits, find a good tailor who can alter your clothes to fit your body shape. If you’re short, get your tailor to raise your sleeve and trouser hem or lower the crotch of your trousers. Other tweaks include altering your shoulder seams or changing the neckline of shirts to flatter your face.


  1. Grooming is just as important as a good fit. A good haircut, manicured nails in neutral colours and subtle, yet professional, make-up will help you make the right impression. Accessories, such as earrings should be kept to a minimum, classic and complement your outfit. That being said, if you have an accessory such as a scarf or bracelet that makes you feel like a super hero wear it with pride. Many of us have that special item in our wardrobe we save for special occasions as it boosts our confidence.

By preparing for your job interview with an outfit that shows respect for yourself, the firm and its clients, you have taken the first step towards making a grand entrance that oozes success.

For more style tips from Melanie join her for a free virtual event on 27 April. Click here for more information.