The Laws of Style: Sartorial Excellence for the Professional Gentleman
by Douglas Hand
At a time when it appears there are no rules about what is appropriate to wear at the office or courthouse, the ABA has published a new book, The Laws of Style, to point attorneys in the right direction. Not since (the now very dated) Dress for Success has there been a guide for lawyers' sartorial options. Thankfully, Douglas Hand has stepped into that void with clear, practical advice laying out "The Laws" for professional gentlemen.
Douglas Hand is one of the top fashion lawyers in America. A glance at his resume--20 years representing fashion industry clients, adjunct professor at NYU and Cardozo School of Law, and a member of top fashion councils--will tell you he has the bona fides. But it is his writing, organization, and approach in The Laws of Style that set him apart.
This is a book written by a lawyer, for lawyers. It is full of "whereas" clauses, latin phrases, supras, and source cites. But the writing is never stuffy or pretentious. These formatting devices are used to make you feel comfortable and for humor. The footnotes range a broad latitude of popular culture. Just as he admonishes the professional gentleman not to be the "fop, the dandy, the coxcomb, the popinjay," the writing is not showy, and the advice is practical.
The Laws of Style is structured around the list of "The Laws." The laws are designed to rein in the peacocks and elevate the uninterested. They are intended to help your career and life. They are a mean around which personal style can be built. And while this is a book written about men's style, there are important takeaways for women attorneys in the early chapters before Hand dives into suits and ties.
The book starts by postulating the importance of dressing professionally. Hand cites social science research to show professional dress improves people's perception of your abilities, and it actually improves your performance. He convinces us to see personal style as a form of self-respect and respect for the profession. Clients should know they are working with a professional when they first meet you. As Hand states, "a very easy way to remind the client they are dealing with a professional is to always look like...