GC Fashion Tips: How to Dress Like a Boss

By William Vogeler, Esq. on July 24, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When in Rome, do as the Romans. But what to wear if you're the emperor?

No, you don't put on a toga and laurels. That might work at a frat party in 1978, but we're talking about dressing for a law department in 2017.

When it's business casual for most workers, the boss has to stand apart. For general counsel, sometimes it comes down to a tie.

Tie or No Tie

If you are the boss, you can pretty much wear whatever you want -- like a gorilla can sit where it wants.

However, Princeton University's career services sets a standard for those future professionals. Suits, colored dress shirts, and ties for men; pant suits or dresses with jackets for women.

Then there's "Mastering Business Casual," which applies to most companies these days, especially in the entrepreneurial age. General counsel can leave the tie or the dress at home, except perhaps for formal occasions, like depositions or reporting to the board.

"The key is to maintain a professional presence, even if you're not in a suit or tie," Princeton says. "Remember, you represent your organization, so you want to make an effort, no matter what day of the week."

Casual for Professionals

It's always a good look to follow the leader, i.e. observe your peers in the C-Suite. For her: tailored pants, conservative dresses and foot ware. For him: dress pants, collared shirt, and a belt.

Business casual has a different standard in the tech world. Silicon Valley has its own dress code.

VC's wear zippered v-neck sweaters; engineers, hoodies. Down the food chain, almost everybody else wears jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers, with some color for accents.

In any case, Forbes business writer Meghan Casserly says to dress like the boss because that's who you want to be. She took her cues from Linda Aroz, author of "If You Can Wear That, You Can Be That."

"It's important to understand the culture of the company you work for, especially any quirks and expectations the company has regarding wardrobe," says Arroz. To succeed in any corporate culture, playing the part is a key to getting ahead, she says.

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