The husband and I are watching the first episode of Fairly Legal. The managing partner is wearing a sleeveless evening gown and a french twist. She could go straight from this episode to a wedding. The main character is wearing a skirt that is so tight that it looks painted on, but at least she’s wearing sleeves.
Sleeves are important, I learned, at a fancy dinner with several attorneys. I opted to wear a dress that I had bought thinking it would be great for the type of fundraising events I go to frequently, and it happens to be sleeveless. It’s charcoal gray, has a high neckline, and is long enough that I thought it was appropriate. It was a really warm day in October and I had to walk to the dinner, so I put a sweater in my purse and walked. When I got there, it was a mix of dresses and suits, but everybody was wearing sleeves. I felt really out of place, but was so hot I didn’t immediately put my sweater on. I didn’t put it on until one woman looked at me and said, probably not intentionally snidely, in front of my old boss, “I should have thought to wear summer clothes.” I immediately felt uncomfortable and embarassed.
I do not mean to look down on work dresses – I think they are awesome. They save a lot of trouble when it comes to how to dress propely, but sleeves, or a jacket, or a cover of any kind, are really really important. Unless you are Michelle Obama. Or a woman on a lawyer TV show, because I see the women lawyers wearing this kind of sleeveless getup and dresses all the time – but let’s just go ahead and draw the line between work dress and cocktail dress.
A work dress:
-Has sleeves or goes with a jacket or sweater
-Hits at least the top of the knees
-Shows zero clevage
-Shows zero underwear lines
-Made of a heavy material, such as a knit
-Conservative color, and either solid or a monotone print, and is not metallic
-Preferably has pockets (so you can carry your blackberry around and stash cards in the pockets)
A cocktail dress
-Sleeveless or strapless (strapless dresses are NEVER work dresses)
-Can be any length
-May be any color
-Has jewels or ruffles or sparkles
-Pockets are optional
-Can be tight and show cleavage
Do you wear work dresses? Do you share my disdain and confusion at seeing inappropriately dressed attorneys on TV?