Regardless of what any man may tell you, to have what you wear looked at critically by anyone is an unpleasant experience. To have your clothes evaluated by a fashion expert is terrifying. These fears, however, proved unfounded when I met Ruth Davis of the Fashion Advisory Service, whose brief was to look me over and advise me as to how I could best improve my image.
Ruth definitely knows her stuff, having not only advised professionals on their image, but also advised major companies on the uniforms their entire workforce should be wearing. Now she was turning this wealth of experience on me.
She began by asking me where I bought my clothes, how much I spent, and what I felt was important. From this information, and from just looking at me, she told me what improvements were needed.
Although the majority of male lawyers wear suits, how they look can vary quite dramatically. Apparently, dark suits are better as they are more authoritative, and they should be double-breasted rather than single. Shoes and belts should always be black and ties should add a colour which should not clash with the shirt.
I was relieved to hear that, basically, I look alright. I have all the component parts of the male lawyer uniform – suit, shirt, tie, shoes and, miraculously, I manage to co-ordinate them.
However, to improve my image, I need to 'upgrade' my suits and buy more expensive ones. Basically, I should be spending between u500 and u1,000 on a suit. As someone reluctant to spend over u200 this came as quite a shock.
I can see the logic behind buying expensive suits – they are better-made, and supposed to be more hard wearing. They presumably also have the added advantage of impressing people when you flash your label at them.
I'm sure there are a great many lawyers who do wear expensive suits, but for me the idea of spending u1,000 on a suit is hard to justify and almost verges on the decadent.
The bottom line is that, although image and presentation are important, what the client is really looking for is good legal advice and a responsive lawyer who will look after his interests well.
Regardless of how suave, urbane and sophisticated a lawyer may look, if he does not know the law and look after his client well, the client will not come back. Perhaps I should spend that extra money on some legal text books, before I rush out and buy my expensive suit.
Simon Hall is an assistant solicitor with Brecher & Co.