Choosing the right suit can positively impact your legal career almost as much as your conduct with clients and your knowledge. Thankfully, at Alexandra Wood, we've had plenty of experience dressing the UK's most distinguished legal minds and can offer you a guide to the best suits to wear as a lawyer.
Key considerations for choosing a suit
As a lawyer, you’re subject to meet stricter dress codes than many other corporate professions, especially if court appearances are a daily occurrence. Furthermore, you need to create the right impression in front of clients, colleagues and peers.
Your suits should reflect your professionalism, attention to detail, dedication, and competence. And they need to be comfortable enough to wear all day, every day. This sounds like a tall order but keeping the following considerations in mind makes shopping much more manageable.
If you’ve seen the programme Suits (and let’s face it, if you work in law, who hasn’t?), you'll understand the power of a good suit. A suit must be dark, understated and as sharp as your legal skills.
Legal chambers and courtrooms aren't the places to be flamboyant* - you need to place yourself firmly as the man who gets things done, with no drama. Just how we like our tailoring service to be.
(*Outside of work, however, let your personality shine. We love helping men express their style through their wardrobe, too.)
The length of time you spend in a suit is a huge consideration when choosing fabrics and cut.
Your career leaves little time for shopping. Fortunately, a few well-made suits should last for years and years.
I have made several suits for The Recorder of London and Judge Mark Lucraft. His suits were so durable that I didn’t hear from him for over ten years. After resigning myself that he may have found another tailor, I received an email from him saying he'd like some more suits because the ones I’d made were on their way out. That says it all.
What colour suits should a lawyer own?
Whether you work in London or Lisbon, a dark colour palette will define your working wardrobe. Plain, textured or herringbone fabrics in navy or charcoal are your safest options as they look good for years and can be matched easily with a wide variety of shirts and ties.
That said, we advise against black as it looks severe on many people and is associated with mourning and formal occasions.
How many business suits should a lawyer own?
Lawyers generally wear suits more frequently than other professions, so we recommend three to four great suits. You can then wear a suit one day and rest it for two days to ensure longevity.
You may be if you should buy two pairs of trousers for each suit. Trousers do need more frequent cleaning than jackets, so having two pairs can be helpful, but it isn't necessary.
Should lawyers wear single or double-breasted suits?
We recommend purchasing a wardrobe of single-breasted suits with two buttons. It should be shaped but give you enough room to move in and wear all day.
Some lawyers wear a three-piece suit to keep their waist covered with a vest, but this can get quite hot in the summer months.
What weight of fabric should lawyers choose for their suits?
When we make suits for lawyers, we like to use fabric between 11 and 13oz. Anything lighter won't be durable enough, and any heavier is far too hot for days in court, particularly if you wear a gown.
We suggest fabrics such as pure wools and high twists where the threads are tightly bound and resist all creasing, making them durable and practical for daily use. The only downside with these fabrics is that they feel slightly rougher to touch and are stiffer than softer wools with more drape.
Which shirts and ties should lawyers wear?
Plain white and blue shirts will be your go-to; however, shirts with subtle stripes in navy, grey or blue are also appropriate. For comfort and durability, choose high-quality, 100% cotton and have them professionally cleaned.
Start with plain silk ties in dark colours like navy, burgundy, pewter, blue, bottle green or plum. Subtle micro patterns, ultra-fine dots or fine pinstripes are also acceptable.
And please, no bow ties.
Finish your outfit with black or navy calf-length socks, dark leather lace-up shoes such as a cap-toe Oxford, and simple plain silver or gold cufflinks if you wear a French/double cuff.
How should you look after your suits?
Suits should be dry cleaned, but not too often.
The best way to ensure your suits last is to wear a suit one day and let it rest for a further two while rotating the others in your wardrobe. This allows natural fabrics to breathe and reduces how often you need to dry clean them, which wears them as the process strips moisture from the material.
Your suits are an investment in your legal career, so make them count.
Your professional standing and career progression are (whether you like it or not), heavily influenced by how colleagues, clients and peers in the courtroom judge your physical appearance.
You've probably heard the saying, "Dress for the job you want.” If career progression is your ambition, the right suit will help others take your aspirations seriously.
Furthermore, just like an actor uses a costume, a great suit will give you the right mindset and confidence to handle high-pressure situations like critical meetings, court hearings, mediation sessions, or job interviews.
But all of this only happens if your suits are high-quality, beautifully cut and tailored to fit you.
We’ve got a few fool proof tips to help you get it right in this blog.
At Alexandra Wood, we create suits for men who want to look the part in a fun, relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. We’ll help you look sharp and stylish with a minimum of fuss.
Book an appointment with us today to discuss your business suit requirements.