August 16, 2011

The Missing Blazer

I want to tell you guys a little story:

     Last week an attorney friend of mine wore a nice dress to court.  I have no idea if she had a blazer or matching jacket with her, but that doesn't really matter since at the time she wasn't wearing it.  While waiting for the time for attorneys to check in with the judge an out of town attorney was looking for the day's calendar.  He approached the attorney and asked her if she was the clerk of court.  

     At first blush, that's not that big a deal.  She was hanging out in the area where the clerk normally sits.  But upon further reflection, it occurred to me that maybe he asked her if she was the clerk because she's a woman.  It turns out that all the clerks that I know are women.  And I would hazard a guess that most clerks are women.  So, while its not terribly surprising that someone would ask a woman standing near the clerk's are if she's the clerk, it is more than a bit bothersome.  I guess my question really is, was it simply her proximity to the clerk's area or was it her being a woman that made him ask if she was the clerk?
     There are a couple of reasons I bring this up.  The first is to point out that even in our super awesome modern world, there is still the old-fashioned point of reference that men hold the positions of power while women hold the support positions.  (This is quite awful for the simple reason that by being stuck in the support positions, women are relegated to the lower paying jobs with the least amount of power.  But this subject really is too complicated for this post just right now)  It  IS quite sad, however, that in a time when women make up at least 50% if not more of law school graduates and have done so for the past 15+ years, that such a point of reference still exists in the practice of law.  
     Now, while its totally possible that I'm thinking too hard and this moment isn't about sex and positions of power, I am 1000000% positive that if everything were the same but that my friend had been a man, the out of town attorney would NOT have EVER asked him if he was the clerk of court.  


     Another reason I wanted to share this story is to tie it back into choice of dress.  While I completely support my friend's decision to wear a nice flattering dress to court, I think she would have been better served to have worn a blazer along with the dress.  A blazer is the perfect item to professional-ize just about any outfit.  A sundress is no longer an expression of femininity and girly-ism when its paired with a blazer.  With a blazer, a sundress is suddenly professional and an outfit that a woman in power wears.  The same can be said for a pair of linen slacks or a brightly patterned skirt; with a blazer each of these looks perfectly appropriate for court.  I guess what I'm saying, really, is that if you're in doubt about what you're wearing and want to exude confidence and power, grab a blazer.  Without one you could find yourself in an awkward position that really could be avoided.  Do you think I'm overthinking it?  Anything similar happen to you or someone you know? 

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