Good judgment and fabulous shoes are not mutually exclusive.
By guest writer Mary T. Wagner
A couple of months ago, one of our legal secretaries printed off a copy of a funny blog post about a “What Not to Wear Fashion Show” which the Chicago Bar Association had staged as a public service, evidently, to instruct law students “How to Dress for Success in Chicago’s Legal Industry.”
I nearly laughed myself right out of my chair. The guest writers who critiqued the show for Above the Law were bloggers themselves, one going by the handle of “Legally Fabulous” and the other an “Attractive Nuisance,” and they clearly had a deliciously snarky time skewering the self-importance of the event.
Apparently Elle Woods, the heroine of the movie Legally Blond, would have been given a one-way ticket to Albuquerque if she had ever shown up in a Chicago courtroom sporting her signature sexy-ingenue style.
The whole fashion show idea was funny, but there was a depressing ring of reality to it too. One the writers summed up just a few of the established rules that night, “never wear boots, never show your arms, NEVER wear pink, and never wear clothes that reveal your body shape.” Spaghetti straps, V-necked sweaters, dark nail polish, peep-toed shoes, skirts above the knee, and ruffles, were verboten. Making the list of approved choices were flats, shirts that were “not too feminine,” and pearl or diamond stud earrings.
Oh for heaven’s sake!!! I love being able to say that I’m a native Chicagoan, but I consider myself fortunate to work in a place that allows for a little more personal initiative to be let out of the bag. I don’t know if I should be proud or sheepish about the fact that when I looked at that “list of rules,” I realized I’d been breaking about 90% of them! Spaghetti straps? Why not, under a tasteful jacket. Pink or lavender? Makes a great combo with a pin-striped suit! I’ve never thought that a judge wasn’t hearing what I said because there were bows on my high heels.
I’m going to leave the discussion of decolletage to other experts, but in my humble opinion, there’s always a place for cute shoes in a courtroom.
Mary T. Wagner is a Midwesterner, a prosecutor, and a writer. She has figured out how to live a “balanced life on dangerous shoes” by learning to deftly navigate high drama in high heels. Check our her blog, Running With Stilettos, and her newest book, Heck on Heels.