Fun + Lifestyle

A Guide to Layered Looks for The Law Office

  • To keep proportions in check when adding layers to your look, your undermost layer should be on the more fitted side
  • Playing with different textures and colors can add sophistication, style, and fun to your professional clothing
  • Layering at work isn’t just for female attorneys! Men can pull off layered looks as well

Lawyers, more so than many other professionals, have to abide by a somewhat strict dress code; in law, appearances matter.

But after a while, business attire can begin to feel stale. This is just one reason why you ought to give layering a try.

Layered clothing allows lawyers to bring a little life to their wardrobe, no matter the climate, and remain comfortable in the process. This is especially beneficial as the weather cools, but can also be helpful during summer, when temperatures indoors are often freezing while it’s hot outside.

But how can you layer while still looking polished and professional? Try these tips to make the layered look work for you:

Don’t Always Tuck!

When it comes to layers, your gut instinct might be to don a button-down blouse and tuck it into your pants or skirt, then maybe pop a sweater on overtop. While that look might work for a co-ed, it’s a little immature for a lawyer. For a more modern, age-appropriate approach to layering, resist the urge to always tuck in your tops. Consider a slightly cropped sweater that hits just above the hip paired with slim-fitting pants and heels.

Learn About “Jardigans”

Credit fashion brand M.M.LaFleur with coining this term to refer to the not-quite-a-jacket, not-quite-a-cardigan look that is perfect for lawyers looking to play with layers. Because it’s a little more structured than a traditional cardigan, a “jardigan” helps keep that professional clothing vibe while remaining more comfortable than a typical jacket or blazer. It’s a perfect way to make a simple dress or top both warmer and more stylish.

Play with Texture and Colors

Don’t create an outfit full of layers made from the same exact fabric or color. Instead of looking chic, you’ll more likely look frumpy and possibly even appear wider than you really are. Instead, mix up fabrics and colors, which can help flatter certain areas of your body, as well as come off more modern and stylish. For lawyers, it’s probably best to keep the color palate on the more subtle, toned-down side. Consider playing with prints, such as slacks with a barely noticeable pinstripe and a tone-on-tone printed shirt to add texture.

Do you consider layering an easy way to mix things up, or does it seem like too much of a risk at your firm?

Keep It Slim

To avoid looking sloppy or out of proportion, keep your under-layers and bottoms on the slimmer side. That means whatever base layer you’re wearing on top, whether it’s a button-down, camisole, or something else, should be on the more fitted side. Same goes for your pants or skirt: Avoid flowy skirts in favor of pencil skirts, and trade in wide-leg pants for fitted trousers.

Men Can Layer Too!

Most male lawyers dress in layers every day—after all, technically, a suit involves layers. But men shouldn’t feel limited to layering with suit jackets alone. On days you’re not in court, you can wear a sweater over a button-down shirt for a sophisticated (and warm) office-appropriate look. Vests, too, can be a more unexpected alternative to a typical suit jacket. Just make sure to abide by Rule No. 4 above and keep your layered clothing on the slimmer side.

Don’t go Overboard

Layered looks don’t work when there’s too much going on. The easiest way to ensure you’re not going overboard is to start simply and not try to, say, throw a bunch of prints together and call it a look. Stick to an anchoring color and keep everything in the same family if you’re not sure what colors complement each other. If you’re comfortable experimenting, don’t mix more than three different colors, since that tends to look too busy. You want to have fun with your clothing while not raising the eyebrows of the most traditional lawyers in your firm.