Why fashion isn’t frivolous

By: September 6, 2017

When you wear a favourite outfit and notice your confidence rise, that’s fashion at work

Raquiya Austin

If you’re a law student who thinks fashion is frivolous, or perhaps even a waste of time, I have a message for you: it’s not. How we choose to present ourselves to the world matters. Think back. Have you ever worn a favourite outfit on a special occasion, and noticed your confidence rise? Did you move with an extra dose of swagger and speak with particular poise? That’s fashion at work. The moment we put on something we love, we feel better about ourselves.

You can also think of what you wear as a visual resumé, a way to communicate something about yourself that won’t come across on paper. You are about to launch a legal career, full of job interviews and networking events. Yes, it’s a bit superficial, but in high-stakes situations, you can use fashion to your advantage.

So how can you build a wardrobe that, on one hand, makes you feel confident, and, on the other, conveys your personality to the world? You’ll have to take time to develop your own personal style.

Before I went to law school — these days, I run a solo entertainment-law practice — I spent six years in the fashion industry, as a retail manager and wardrobe stylist. And I’ve learned that there’s only one way to discover your fashion identity: you have to experiment.

My style journey began through observation. I read magazines like Vogue, InStyle and even GQ. I also walked around the mall, looking at advertisements and trying on different pieces. My goal was to learn what fit, accessories, colours and textures suited me. If you’re trying on an outfit, don’t be afraid to talk to the store staff. Quite often, they know their stuff. At the end of it all, I cultivated a sense of style that I like to call “classic and colourful.”

When I became a lawyer a year ago, I refused to let the profession kill my style. So when I wear business suits, they’re always bold, either in colour or pattern. My favourite outfit, for instance, is a blue denim slim-fit suit. It puts me at ease and makes me look fearless, which mirrors the attitude I bring to my practice.

In law, norms are changing. There is no longer a strict ban on colour. If you’re most comfortable wearing black and navy, that’s fine. But if you want something more, I encourage you to experiment with colours and fabrics. Stay true to yourself: that’s the whole point of fashion.


Fashion newbies, here are three corporate-fashion blogs to mine for inspiration:

Corporate Style Story

Corporate Style Story

Ladies, if you want to dress like a Bay Street powerhouse, check out U.K.-based blogger and lawyer, Cyran. Both her Instagram feed @corporatestylestory and her website corporatestylestory.com showcase her bold, elegant style. And she effortlessly transitions between professional and casual outfits.
 
What my boyfriend wore

What My Boyfriend Wore

A few years back, Sergio Ines’s girlfriend started to post pictures of him in his best outfits to Instagram. His offbeat-yet-dapper style became an instant hit. Today, the South African runs his own blog whatmyboyfriendwore.com and Instagram feed @whatmyboyfriendwore. He finds the perfect balance between contemporary and classic. If you need ideas on how to accessorize, he adds great flair to his professional attire.

Strictly Legal Fashionista

Strictly Legal Fashionista

You can also read my style blog, strictlylegalfashionista.com. There aren’t many Canadian lawyer-fashion bloggers, so what I offer can’t be found anywhere else. I regularly update it with advice posts and pictures of my best outfits. Every season, I put together a lookbook that highlights current trends in fashion for men and women. Find me on Instagram at @strictlylegalfashionista.

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