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The ABCDs of Dressing for CLEs

by HumaRashid on July 20, 2010 · 9 comments

in Fashion & Lifestyle

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My law school hosts CLEs very often – it seems like every month, there are attorneys walking past the student nook on the fifth floor to one of the larger classrooms, narrowing their eyes judgmentally at me because I’m sprawled out on the couch, half-unconscious, with my Labor Law book open on my stomach and Cheez-It crumbs in my hair, and one shoe missing. Please, like they’re so fancy.

The men usually wear suits, but the women come in an array of ensembles. Some wear pant suits, some wear skirt suits, some wear pencil skirts with a nice top, some wear dresses, and some wear nice trousers and a top. Some teeter-totter atop stiletto-heeled pumps, and some wear tiny kitten heels. The point is, we ladies have a ton of wiggle room when it comes to dressing for CLEs.

For this reason, I will from time to time post outfits that can comfortably be worn to CLEs. There’s really not much to be said for dressing for CLEs. All you need to do is look professional enough so that people believe you’re actually an attorney and not one of the many homeless people that routinely try to gain access to our building because we have nice bathrooms, and be comfortable enough to sit through a day of panels and round tables and lectures like you did when you were in law school. A full day of classes about the legal system, even after you’re a part of it: who says the fun ever has to end?!

(Someone hold me.)

Also, if it’s summer, chances are that you’ll be sitting in a building that is air conditioned to the max. Remember to grab a cardigan or shawl and stash it in your tote bag just in case. Like we’ve discussed in earlier posts, it is well proven that all women are cold all the time.

This first outfit is for those of you that are a little strapped for cash these days. You can still look professional – and be comfortable – without spending a fortune on new threads.

Faux Wrap Shirt Dress ………. $49.99
Lasonia Women’s Pump ………. $19.99
Frosted Pendant Necklace ………. $19.99
Sophia Bangle in Gold Multi ………. $10

I picked a wrap dress because they’re ridiculously comfortable and flattering. I might have gone with something with more color, but this one popped up out of nowhere and I liked it. Black and brown worn together is very on-trend right now.

I didn’t get fancy or cute with this outfit. The shoes are just plain black pumps with a teeny embellishment, and a three inch heel, which is pretty manageable. You could easily wear kitten heels with this dress and get away with it.

I kept the accessories bronze and black, with this pretty pendant necklace and a black and gold bangle. Both tie everything together and the bangle has a little bit of red for some color, so you’ve got a pretty, professional outfit for your CLE without blowing a ton of cash.

On the other hand, if you have a bunch of cash to blow, maybe you’ll like this outfit that I put together with a few more high-end pieces.

Ralph Lauren Stretch Cotton Dress ………. $138
Two Button Blazer ………. $19.99
Speak To Me Pump in Black ………. $69.95
Silver Necklace ………. $6.90

I picked another wrap dress, and this one is sleeveless. Because of that, I tossed on this two button black blazer. The overall look isn’t going to be as formal as it would be if you opted for a pencil skirt and a top underneath, and dresses are usually pretty comfortable. Far more comfortable than pants. But maybe I’m just biased: I hate pants. Not a day passes by that I don’t resent society for forcing us to wear them.

Black pumps are the standard, and I picked these patent black ones from Jones New York. The wrap dress creates a nice pocket of space at the neck that needs to be filled, and I absolutely love pendant necklaces for this sort of thing. I was originally thinking of going with a deep sapphire-colored pendant, since the dress is violet, or maybe a nice turquoise if I decided that it looked right, but then I figured silver was a better option. I didn’t want it to look too fancy, though, because you’re just going to a conference and not a formal gathering, so I opted for this black and silver three-stone.

And there we have two professional (but not too stuffy) ensembles that can easily be worn to CLEs, ensuring a polished look as well as relative comfort.  (The comfort hinges on the fact that you don’t have to wear pants. Hooray!)

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  • Jennifer

    Pants are way more comfortable than dresses especially in potentially freezing law school auditoriums. LOVE the shoes you choose. I really appreciate your perspective on this. Thanks!

  • http://blog.alligerkman.com Alli

    Huma, I love your fashion series. I do CLE in Colorado and I think the attire spans an even broader range than you mention, which got me thinking about regional differences in fashion. Like you, I went to law school in Chicago. I moved out to Colorado right after and was shocked by the difference in fashion norms for everything from interviews to court. And, as usual with fashion, it seems much harder for women to navigate those regional differences. Maybe a future post for you to consider? :)

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/emmagarrison Emma Garrison

    Love fashion advice! Would you consider writing a post about comfortable lawyer shoes? I'm such a wimp about heels, but accept they are some times a professional necessity. I really like the Lasonia shoes you link to, but I'm a little skeptical that shoes that cost $19.99 wouldn't kill my feet by the end of the day.

  • http://twitter.com/BruceGodfrey Bruce Godfrey

    Given my tendency to dress down, I will probably have to catch your presentations on video, Carolyn!

  • http://twitter.com/BruceGodfrey Bruce Godfrey

    Pardon me – Huma!

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