How to look like a lawyer

By: September 20, 2016

We peeked into the closets of 4 stylish young lawyers and got their tips on how to look terrific

There’s an easy way to calm your nerves when you become a newbie associate: make sure you look damn good. But in doing so, you still have to observe the conservative fashion code that dominates law firms across Canada. So we peeked into the closets of four stylish young lawyers and got their tips on how to look terrific without breaking any rules (Hint: grey and navy are in your future.)

Peter Eirikson

Peter Eirikson
Second-year associate at Stewart McKelvey

What’s in his closet

Logo-free dress shirts
Say goodbye to Mr. Hilfiger and Mr. Lauren. “If you’re wearing a dress shirt, make sure there’s no logo on the breast pocket,” says Eirikson. “It seems like a small thing, but no one really does that.” Eirikson owns about 15 shirts. Some are light blue, and others are lavender. But, he says, “A white shirt is still the old standby.”

Patterned ties
Wearing a bold tie is one of the few ways a man can jazz up his suit. “If you’re wearing a solid- coloured shirt — which you almost always should — wear a patterned tie,” says Eirikson. You can’t go wrong with stripes.

Hair-styling pomade
It’s Eirikson’s way of perfecting his hair: close-cropped on the sides, and longer hair on top. But the point is to look polished (no bed-head) and professional. Eirikson also gets a haircut every four to five weeks.

• Bonus item
A beard trimmer. “Beards are definitely acceptable,” says Eirikson, who sports a light scruff. But trim it a couple times a week to keep things tidy.

Inside Peter's closet

Non-iron shirts courtesy of Banana Republic; Dion neckwear courtesy of Sydney’s.

Ashley Weldon

Ashley Weldon
Seventh-year associate at Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer in Calgary

What’s in her closet

Pantsuits, blazers and skirts — all black
When Weldon started as a summer student, she bought a lot of black. No, she wasn’t heading to a funeral — she was wisely relying on the basics. Today, she also dons greys, navies, camels and maroons. But she cautions against wearing black with white. “It’s a safe choice that you can make. But you can err so far on the side of caution that you look like a caterer.”

Understated jewellery

Feel like spicing up those neutral- coloured outfits? It’s all in the jewellery. But stick to four pieces at the most. For example, Weldon might wear earrings, a bracelet and a necklace, or earrings and two bracelets. Final rule: nothing too showy.

Muted-colour blazers

It’s good to have some variety, says Weldon, who keeps her black, navy, grey and tweed blazer collection at the office. (She has 15 in total.) “It’s easier to come to work without a blazer under my coat,” she says. In fact, she keeps an extra of everything at work — whether it’s toiletries, shoes or tights.

• Bonus item
A notebook. To avoid the stress of picking out her clothes each morning, Weldon writes down the week’s outfits every Sunday night.


Lightweight wool suiting courtesy of Banana Republic; Mackage bag courtesy of Sporting Life.

Joshua Whitford

Joshua Whitford
Second-year associate at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP in Toronto

What’s in his closet

Dark suits
As a rookie, you should focus on seamlessly fitting in, so mimic Whitford and buy a set of six grey and navy suits. “If you’re at a drafting session on an M&A transaction, you don’t want to be the only guy wearing a cream-coloured suit,” he says. “You don’t want to stand out in that room.” And he pleads: “Get your suit tailored.”

High-end leather shoes
“My three pairs of shoes are probably the most expensive things in my wardrobe,” says Whitford. So dig deep for at least two pairs (black and brown). “But remember that leather gets chewed up by cement, so keep them in the office.” Don’t be afraid to brighten things up. “If you want to wear really funky socks, then go ahead.”

A leather briefcase
Once you land that job, (spoiler alert) you’ll have to take work home. “You might be working on an IPO that’s not yet public,” he says. “You can’t just walk down the road with the materials hanging out.” The stylish answer: get your hands on a black or brown briefcase.

• Bonus item
A bottle of mouthwash. Keep it at the office for those extra-long days.

Inside Joshua's closet

Suiting and leather belt courtesy of Strellson; Allen Edmonds shoes and JMB leather bag courtesy of Sydney’s.

Nisha Anand

Nisha Anand
Seventh-year associate at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP in Toronto

What’s in her closet

Sheath dresses
“The sheath dress is a great go-to outfit,” says Anand. “You don’t have to put a lot of thought into it because it’s all one piece.” She’s bought black, grey, fuchsia, red and “snot green” versions. And since they fall just below the knee, they’re perfect for a conservative law-firm environment.

Plenty of pantyhose
Nylons aren’t just for winter. They’re your friend all year round. “I would never go to court without pantyhose,” says Anand, who wears them for any formal event. “And I keep extra pairs in the office because I always rip mine.”

Comfortable shoes
“I’m a bit of a shoe person,” admits Anand, who stores 15 pairs in her office, 12 of which are heels. But she regularly wears flats, too. “Heels aren’t a necessary part of every outfit.” And she doesn’t own any that are super-high, so it never looks like she’s forgotten how to walk.

• Bonus item
Deodorant-mark remover. After she gets dressed, Anand uses a tiny, portable sponge to erase any white residue that has rubbed o on her clothes.

Inside Nisha's closet

Cream dress courtesy of Hugo Boss; black dress courtesy of Banana Republic; shoes courtesy of Specchio.

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