What does a hip young thing wear in court?!

(57 Posts)
littlehalo Sun 30-Dec-12 11:35:18

My job is normally community and/ or office based but is now taking me into the courts.

I'd like a nice pencil skirt suit (or similar) but sites like TM Lewin make me want to cry. I'm 20-something, size 6/8, 5ft 4 (but live in heels), nick named 'the clothes horse', please tell me I'm not destined for bland colours and frumpy cuts for the rest of my working life!

I'm not actually averse to grey or black but I would want to 'lift' these colours with nice blouses or camis.

To give you an idea of my usual style, I like bold pieces, love Vivienne Westwood, winged eyeliner etc, not frightened of print.

Any suggestions would be great, thanks in advance.

Mosman Sun 30-Dec-12 11:47:47

Courts are not really known for their snazzy styling.
I'd be playing it down really, every solicitor I know owns a lot of black suits even navy is seen as a bit put there and crazy.

TeaBrick Sun 30-Dec-12 11:56:59

Sorry, but you are destined for bland colours and frumpy cuts for the rest of your working life grin

ItsaTIARA Sun 30-Dec-12 11:58:32

Get a TM Lewin suit and visit a tailor to get it altered to a perfect fit and length. Afraid you're going to have to learn to express your style in really discreet touches and go wild at the weekend.

littlehalo Sun 30-Dec-12 12:03:32

I'm not your friend any more S&B!! <flounces> grin

Do you think it always has to be a suit, could I maybe get away with a smart shift dress and jacket?

AloeSailor Sun 30-Dec-12 12:03:56

Hip isn't appropriate for court. You need to dress ultra conservatively to be taken seriously.

littlehalo Sun 30-Dec-12 12:09:43

I've never had a problem being taken seriously in court before, but that was when court was only a fringe part of my job (social worker btw). I guess there will be an expectation that I should now dress the part if I am going to be in court much more frequently.

ItsaTIARA Sun 30-Dec-12 12:12:05

You could wear a shift dress and jacket, but the drycleaning bill is a pain - much easier to wear suits and selection of tops.

MrsWolowitz Sun 30-Dec-12 12:12:26

Something like this


Mosman Sun 30-Dec-12 12:12:43

I guess it does depend on your role, of you are the judge you can do what you like, everyone one else does as they are told.
It's not that a dress wouldn't work but it can't be tight and fitted and showing all god gave you. You can't be showing your armpits or tattoos

AloeSailor Sun 30-Dec-12 12:12:58

You owe to your service users to be dressed so the magistrates take you seriously and respect you.

Mosman Sun 30-Dec-12 12:15:01

As a social worker it's about looking professional, you're not a hippy lentil weaver and you're not a dolly bird more interested in what she did at the weekend. You're a professional woman and that should be obvious from your attire.

MrsMushroom Sun 30-Dec-12 12:22:15

Bollocks. OP wear what you like. As a feminist fashionista I command you to break taboos.

I'm a solicitor and appear regularly at the Mags and County Courts. The mags is a bit more formal and I would always wear a jacket in black/navy/grey with either a matching skirt or dress. Cami are fine and colours are fine but no armpits or cleavage ever.

In the County Court, it's a bit more informal in chambers, so I have worn a pale blue linen dress in the summer with short sleeves and no one died grin

Djembe Sun 30-Dec-12 12:27:31

'Dolly bird' - seriously?!


ItsaTIARA Sun 30-Dec-12 12:32:12

You will look fabulous in a well cut severe suit and killer heels OP. You will only look frumpy if you buy something boxy that doesn't fit. Tailoring is not the enemy, get something that fits, or alter it until it does. It took me until my thirties to learn about the importance of alteration, you can benefit from my experience grin.

littlehalo Sun 30-Dec-12 12:33:14

Armpits and tattoos shock no chance of me flashing either of those! Not least because I don't have any tattoos. Aren't the two concrete rules 'always wear a collar' and 'never have bare arms'?

Mosman and Aloe, I have been a social worker (quite successfully) for a number of years, I'm not hoping to get away with something like this (partly because its vile!) www.topshop.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?beginIndex=1&viewAllFlag=&catalogId=33057&storeId=12556&productId=8532007&langId=-1&sort_field=Relevance&categoryId=423012&parent_categoryId=203984&pageSize=20

..but I would like to know if I could get away with something like this, trousers with a narrow leg and tapered ankle? www.hm.com/gb/product/02192?article=02192-D

BillyBollyBrandy Sun 30-Dec-12 12:34:35

Have you tried Karen Millen?

cathyandclaire Sun 30-Dec-12 12:39:21

Why not invest in a fabulous well cut suit ( maybe westwood as you love it and it's classic with an edge ... could be a bargain in the sales) and lots of cheapie tops to go under it?

NorthernNumpty Sun 30-Dec-12 12:44:56

Try lk Bennett or Karen Millen. You would be surprised what social workers get away with wearing at court!. IME ( I don't work in family law but spend a lot of time in the County Court) very few social workers wear suits. A peplum jacket and pencil skirt could be smart and a little quirky? You would really stand out in the county court in killer heels and a pencil skirt, it's not the most stylish of venues but I say go for it, I miss the criminal courts, it's all killer heels there!!

littlehalo Sun 30-Dec-12 12:45:32

So if I invest in one decent well cut (or altered) suit would you recommend skirt or trousers? I do love a good pencil skirt but on reflection wonder if this might be too sexy.

NorthernNumpty Sun 30-Dec-12 12:46:04

I would say you could definitely get away with the H&M outfit

cathyandclaire Sun 30-Dec-12 12:46:05

Something like this....although still £££££

HollaAtMeSanta Sun 30-Dec-12 12:46:41

Reiss have nice suits smile

Djembe Sun 30-Dec-12 12:47:07
CharlotteBronteSaurus Sun 30-Dec-12 12:48:45

i've always got by with bog standard office smart/casual.
i unexpectedly had to attend to obtain a warrant one day when I was supposed to be doing other stuff, and was wearing jeans
i'm sure the beaks didn't approve, but they were far too professional to even suggest this.

NorthernNumpty Sun 30-Dec-12 12:50:44

I think if the heels are huge then you may feel more comfortable in tapered trousers, if you do go pencil go for well below knee. I love the VW suit, I agree with poster above, shift dresses are lovely but the cleaning bill is a pain. Have you tried Hugo boss too, they do some good suits and might get a bargain in sales.

littlehalo Sun 30-Dec-12 12:50:53

Thanks you for the Reiss, LK Bennett and Karen Millen Recommendations. I'm not a fan of Karen Millen but that puts me in the mind of Ted Baker which may be worth a look!

cassell Sun 30-Dec-12 12:52:36

I'm a solicitor and do a lot of court work and though not a hip young thing (31!) I wear smart well cut tailored skirt suits with killer heels, I favour Reiss, Jigsaw and for dresses LK Bennett. The cut of the jacket is v important IMO and I favour 1 button shortish jackets, always above hip level, anything longer can run the risk of looking frumpy IMO. I team them with a variety of blouses/tops often in brighter colours, I have some nice jewel coloured (teal/purple etc) silk shirts from Karen millen, can look striking but still smart with a dark suit.

dontlaugh Sun 30-Dec-12 12:55:21

I have female in laws who are both solicitor and one male, the men have it way easier. The women wear lots and lots and LOTS of black. Skirts, little jackets, gorgeous shoes. Lovely beautiful bags I would happily do time for smile. Reiss, LK Bennett, and some v nice pieces (designer) seem to be the key. But then they are earning a fortune hmm.

NorthernNumpty Sun 30-Dec-12 12:56:02
littlehalo Sun 30-Dec-12 12:59:03

Ha love it Djembe

Absolutely, I would always opt for below-the-knee in a pencil skirt Northern, is it just me or do above-the-knee pencil skirts smack of Viv Windsor out of Emmerdale?! Victoria Beckham always gets it right with pencil skirts, so flattering.

NorthernNumpty Sun 30-Dec-12 12:59:09

That last one is fab but would be a head turner in the sea of black and navy, a lawyer couldn't get away with it but maybe you could on my behalf!!!

littlehalo Sun 30-Dec-12 13:26:30

Gosh Charlotte that reminds me, there was once a mix up and I was summoned to attend court on a s.7 case with only 30min notice. I knew the case inside out so I had no qualms on that front. However, it was thick with snow outside and I had originally planned to be out and about covering contacts and doing home visits all day so was wearing wellies, a lumberjack shirt, jeans and a parka jacket!! I felt like such a plonker.

I got a notoriousy grumpy judge but he must have been in a good mood that day as he looked me up and down, gave a wry smile then moved on blush

Meggles76 Sun 30-Dec-12 16:07:29

OP - I am a Probation Officer and have previously worked in both Mag and Crown Courts. My role being to advise and assist the Court.
I have never really conformed to the black skirt suit and court shoe look. But I think you do have to dress appropriately for the setting and for your role in the court.
I tended to wear a slim fit fine wool trouser suit in charcoal with a fitted white or light blue shirt. Killer heels. Add colour with a silk scarf. Alternatively I wore a below the knee black jersey pencil skirt with black patterned tights, shirt and heels.

CunningPlan Sun 30-Dec-12 16:22:39

Another solicitor here advising to let your evidence and professional manner do the talking, NOT yor clothes. You should not, IMO, rely on your outfit to convince people that you know your stuff, but of course an unprofessional outfit can spoil an otherwise professional impression.

I'm not in court but for big meetings I wear suits in black, grey, navy and, when I'm feeling really wild, charcoal grey. I have rejected suits from the high street before because I was running the risk of looking like an air hostess.

Lots of the big London firms give dressing advice to their graduate trainees and the advice is as follows: keep it plain and if you must use Bol colour, restrict it to scarves that can be whipped off if you feel the need to dial it down a notch.

CunningPlan Sun 30-Dec-12 16:23:23

If course, I use spellcheck at work

your, not yor hmm

littlehalo Sun 30-Dec-12 17:11:11

You should not, IMO, rely on your outfit to convince people that you know your stuff

I won't need to rely on an outfit for that, thankfully.

*I am a Probation Officer and have previously worked in both Mag and Crown Courts. My role being to advise and assist the Court.
I have never really conformed to the black skirt suit and court shoe look. But I think you do have to dress appropriately for the setting and for your role in the court*

Thanks Meggles, that's really helpful, I'm going to be a family court adviser so I guess there are some parallels there.

BadDog Sun 30-Dec-12 17:13:27

Trousers and a blouse. No one will look. Court is not about you.

PavlovtheCat Sun 30-Dec-12 17:14:46

I wear either dark/black pinstriped trouser suit and mid heels or a black knee-length shift dress and jacket, back mary jane mid heels to court. Minimal make-up and hair done simply, not much jewelry.

BadDog Sun 30-Dec-12 17:16:47

I wouldn't say too high heels. You'll be running around a bit.

BadDog Sun 30-Dec-12 17:17:05

Nothing ostentatious basically.

PavlovtheCat Sun 30-Dec-12 17:20:00

this is very similar to the dress I wear, but I am short so it is not high above my knee, mine it just on my knee, with a jacket over.

blueshoes Sun 30-Dec-12 17:28:43

I agree with Cunningplan, cassel and don'tlaugh.

None of the designer outfits linked to on this thread would work. They are too fussy, perplexing and make everyone look at bit sideways at you.

You are young. Make the best of it with a black pencil skirt, fitted jacket with good tailoring and heels. Gives you presence. You will look like a solicitor (not sure if that is good or bad).

littlehalo Sun 30-Dec-12 17:42:00
littlehalo Sun 30-Dec-12 17:42:26

Blimey, sorry for huge link!

ItsaTIARA Sun 30-Dec-12 17:49:23

I think that's a lovely outfit OP. fashionable enough to make you happy wearing it but oozing respectability and professionalism.

Mockingcurl Sun 30-Dec-12 18:06:23

I sit in court regularly.
You should look smart and fairly subdued . Anything too sexy, short or revealing WILL get commented on and will detract from your professional role. You will be known as the one in the sexy skirts,or whatever.

Keep it simple and smart. Trousers are ok but some judges don't like it.

PavlovtheCat Sun 30-Dec-12 18:19:39

I personally don't like that outfit, but I guess it is personal taste. I think it's a bit too 'funky' for court personally, more appropriate for the office. But then, I am not a young hip girl any more wink

SweetieSnowball Sun 30-Dec-12 18:29:02

Good luck in your new role. Try not to worry too much on clothes, and see what your new colleagues and peers wear.

I am a Magistrate and in the court where I sit the bench is quite a bit higher than everyone in the well of the court. The biggest fashion mistake made by ladies is tops worn are too low. They may seem respectable when viewed from straight ahead but from the slightly elevated position gives the bench an eyeful on occasion. You mention cami tops, these were the worst offender I am afraid. If in doubt wear high neck or drape a scarf. Think pussybows or thin polo necks in muted colours under conservative jackets.

higgle Sun 30-Dec-12 18:52:10

I was a solicitor doing a lot of magistrates work until a career change 7 years ago. If you are a social worker you will not be expected to dress in the same way as the legal representatives and provided you are smart and decent you will be able to get away with a more relaxed style. Dresses in dark prints or jersey dresses with a jacket are a good way to go. When I was pregnant and got very hot in court I used to wear a dark T shirt dress with a navy jersey jacket over and a chiffon scarf and pearls and looked very dressed up when I really was not - a jacket adds a bit of gravitas to any outfit.

blueshoes Sun 30-Dec-12 19:09:06

I am not sure about that outfit for court. It is the tight cut and skinny trousers. It is trying rather hard IMO to give yourself individuality clothes-wise when the last thing you want to do is stand out for your clothes.

I think it will make you look young which detracts from the seriousness of your role.

ClaraDeLaNoche Sun 30-Dec-12 19:24:06

I don't agree that you have to dress conservatively to be taken seriously. High fashion is fine. I have known plenty of professionals who look fashionable. I have done court work with very glamourous females and I felt a frump because I was doing the conservative trouser suit. At the time I felt you had to conform because I was young and just starting out but now I wish I'd had the balls to dress up a bit more. It would not have affected the outcome of the case.

Just don't look like you're going to the dancing.

I am now fairly glam at work and I am taken seriously. Be yourself, you are obviously interested in fashion.

littlehalo Sun 30-Dec-12 20:41:45

I think it will make you look young

This is a valid point - to take the argument to the other extreme, I am absolutely not going to try to look older. Fact is, I am on the young side and at the lower end of what the role usually demands in terms of experience. I fully expect that somone will try to have a pop at some point, I need to head this off with a robust, confident response. The superficial stuff is just window dressing, this is where my practice really must speak for itself.

The only 'window-dressing' trick I might employ is wearing my glasses as opposed to contacts. I genuinely do have dreadful eyesight so shouldn't feel too much of a fraud!

Thanks for all your advice ladies, I'll be thinking of your various viewpoints when hitting the sales!

BadDog Sun 30-Dec-12 21:55:56

Probation always look a mess tbh. Any advance on that is good.

tethersjinglebellend Sun 30-Dec-12 22:25:49

Some nice VW bits in the sale here...



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