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What not to wear

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I have touched on women’s professional clothing in the courtroom but it’s equally complicated in the office. At an event last night for the Bar Association of Baltimore City, Young Lawyers Division, for example, a group of us spent at least 10 minutes lamenting about women’s professional clothes.

Oddly, this week alone, I have had several such conversations.

A friend of mine and I met after work for a hair appointment date. When she stood up, I noticed the cute suit-style pants she was wearing. She told me what they were and I immediately went on my phone and ordered some. (And they were on sale!)

On Wednesday, I wore a navy blue Calvin Klein sleeveless shift dress — very classic, very basic. However, every time I went into the bathroom, where we have a full-length mirror, I questioned whether it was too short for the office. It was just above the knee, yet I tugged it down every time I stood up. Thankfully, I was wearing shorter heels or it may have been inappropriate. I shared this with a friend of mine who said she was doing the exact same thing with the dress she was wearing as we spoke. Her dress had pockets (YAY!), which is great for helping with the pull-down.

A couple weeks ago, I was standing in line to get lunch and complimented an attorney from another firm in our building on her dress. It was a very cute, very professional sleeveless shift dress. I told her that I was impressed with such a great summer office dress find. She said that while she loved it, too, she was worried that folks in the office would be offended by the fact that it was sleeveless because her office preferred sleeves. It was about 100 degrees that day.

I have also been agonizing over the fact that professional office dresses rarely have color, and if they do, they are very plain. I further note that I have given up on pantsuits. I am totally over them. They are usually uncomfortable and look boxy.

Ladies, it is hard to find good work clothes so when you do share the knowledge! I’m not a paid spokeswoman, but here are my clothing recommendations collected from several experiences and fellow female professionals.

The history of women’s professional clothing is very interesting but I will have to save that blog for another day. In the meantime, a lawyer blog I followed had the best meme:

Judge: What are you here for today counsel?

Me: Nothing. My dress has pockets, see!

Angela Davis Pallozzi is counsel at Offit Kurman P.A. in Baltimore.

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