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What to Wear

Wear A Traditional Suit

For women: If you were on the Harvard Law review, wearing pants to an interview may not hurt your chances; generally, however, a suit with a skirt is preferable. Just make sure that your suit is dark, and that the skirt is a modest length. A skirt that ends slightly above the knee is appropriate; a skirt that is four or more inches above the knee is not. Likewise, do not wear a skirt that is too tight or one with a slit that is too high.

For men: Your suit should be a dark solid color, preferably charcoal gray, navy blue, or black. These colors will match anything, will look professional, and will not indicate a hint of personality. Light gray, brown, olive, or pinstriped suits may be okay, or they may not. The partner interviewing you just might think your striped suit suggests lack of the seriousness and maturity required for the practice of law. Back when he interviewed for an associate position, he had to wear a dark suit—why should that be any different for you? The point is, you just never know. Wearing a traditional dark suit ensures that the major part of your interview ensemble meets the mark.

Even if you already have one acceptable suit in your closet, consider investing in another one. It is always good to have a backup suit, which will also come in handy once you get a job. Barring the rare case of an airline losing your luggage while flying to a callback interview, there is no excuse for not wearing a suit to an interview. We knew one student in law school whose only suit got stuck at the dry cleaners, and who had to show up to his on-campus interviews wearing trousers and a shirt. His appearance was not well-received, and, despite his good grades and charming personality, he was not rewarded with a single callback. (And no, he did not sue the dry cleaners.)

Your suit should be neither too inexpensive nor too costly. You want to dazzle your interviewers with your personality, not your suit. The associate interviewing you should not be thinking, “Damn, is that punk wearing Armani? Meanwhile the only work experience on his resume is that of a lifeguard? Spoiled brat!” No reason to arouse such animosity and make that associate feel badly about his or her current station in life, mortgage, and student loans, or his or her inability to afford designer clothing. Stick with the less expensive, more popular brands. Think about it this way: If Land's End is good enough for David Boies, it is good enough for you.

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesLaw Job InterviewsWhat to Wear - Dress Conservatively, Wear A Traditional Suit, Just Say No To Business Casual, Shirts, Ties