Fashion Cents: TV is wrong.

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)


An appropriate work dress, especially with a shell. 

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


An appropriate cocktail dress.  Never work appropriate for a law firm.  Unless you are the firm stripper.  That really shouldn’t be a job.

Do you wear work dresses?  Do you share my disdain and confusion at seeing inappropriately dressed attorneys on TV?

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Fashion Cents: TV is wrong.

  1. “Unless you are the firm stripper. That really shouldn’t be a job.” – that made me laugh out loud. Amazing. My sister is a lawyer and her first firm had a crazy nazi office manager who wouldn’t allow anything sleeveless or even the tiniest peep-toe. I think at her new job sleeveless is OK for summer days in the office and happy hours, but that’s about it.

    • vadoporroesq

      I fully support wearing sleeveless shells under suit jackets, because then you can walk around wearing them outside if it’s really hot. I never take my jacket off at work because it’s always freezing though.

  2. I get really annoyed when I see any professional portrayed inappropriately. Doctors on Grey’s Anatomy have waaaaaaaay too much cleavage. And yeah, see female lawyers in sexy little outfits doesn’t seem realistic at all.

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