I hate fashion advice that the status quo issues down to women. As if we’re too stupid to recognize what is appropriate or not. Or worse, sexualizing our clothing to diminish our capacity. Yes, her heels are high, but let’s not call them “prostitute shoes,” because, sorry to break it to you, but even sex workers can wear flats. So let’s not impugn women’s characters just because of their clothing.
Thankfully, when faced with this sexist advice, women push back. I had been sitting on this post for a while, but was energized by Yvette Martinez’s response to an article encouraging women attorneys to “jazz up” their fashion for court. After reading her letter to the editor, I decided it was finally time to hit publish on this post. Yes, some women may not understand the work culture and wear inappropriate clothing, but.so.do.men!! This idea that men have a “uniform” or less chances to mess up is not true. The difference is that men aren’t judged when they have fashion missteps the way women are; and the fact that they are not lectured and chided exposes this B.S. double standard. So, while this site focuses on Latinas, I decided to give some attention to the men. Here are some Summer Fashion Dos and Don’ts in the same judgmental, shaming tone that is dished out to women:
1. Men, I know it’s summer and it’s hot, but you have to wear an undershirt. No one wants to see your skin through your button holes. Or worse, no one wants to see your nipples! Minus a billion points if you have a hairy, stomach, chest, or less than muscular abs that stick out through said button holes. Let’s class it up!
2. Men, wear a necktie and keep your shirt buttoned up all the way (I have legit seen three undone top buttons–why?!). You’re at a law firm, not a strip club. Ok?
3. Men, your pants are too tight! Please leave something to the imagination–and consider all the women you’re working with and how that could affect them. I know being a hipster is sexy and cool, but if you can wear your tight pants to a club or bar, they don’t belong at work. #SayNoToBulge please and gracias.
4. Likewise, men, your pants aren’t long enough. Why am I seeing your ankle? This isn’t a country club, this is a courtroom and you’re being way too casual. Also, why are you buying pants that are so short to begin with?! Wear pants that fit and don’t show so much skin.
5. And omg. why aren’t you wearing thick, black, wool dress socks (i.e. the appropriate conservative sock)? Too bad if it’s too hot. Too bad if it’s uncomfortable. Oh, they slip down and aren’t practical? Wear sock garters, then. I mean, some judges and juries are still very conservative, and you want to cater to them less they think you’re a hussy.
6. Are those boat shoes or scuffed up loafers? Don’t you respect the court? Appropriate shoes can be found here. It doesn’t matter if they’re too expensive or not comfortable. #prettyhurts and so does being a true professional.
So, while all the things I mentioned are unprofessional attire for male attorneys, I never, ever see anyone call men out when they look like slobs or are wearing the wrong type of clothing for the setting. Yet, women are constantly scrutinized and assailed with “advice” about what to wear. As if we’re too dumb to figure it out.
Why is our cleavage any more distracting than their hairy stomachs? Why is a tight skirt too much, but tight hipster pants that those men KNOW are too small for them, given a pass? Why do we have to wear heels–which cause actual physical damage–in order to be seen as professional, but any old black shoe they wear will do? And yes, I have seen male colleagues, interns, and businessmen out and about dressed like what I described.
I’m all for talking about fashion and wearing well-done ensembles, especially in court, but my issue is that women are judged and berated for any “inappropriate dress,” but the fashion mishaps of men are overlooked. And when they are noticed, very few people make a value judgment on the man’s work capacity. And like, what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander. If you’re judging women on how they dress, and making value judgements on their work capabilities, then please also turn an eye on the gents. I’m sure you’ll find they’re not perfect either. Stop judging the one and giving the other a free pass.