Chambers bowls dress-code googly at aspiring pupils

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By Legal Cheek on

A prospective barrister is traumatised by the requirement to arrive at a formal interview in “informal” clobber

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Pupillage interviews are stressful enough — without the chambers confusing matters by suggesting candidates should turn up in ‘informal’ dress.

But that is exactly the dilemma facing one anxious aspiring barrister, who has taken to the internet seeking advice.


The nervous candidate has appealed to posters on the Fashion Plus page of social media site Reddit to say she is “terrified” at the chamber’s suggestion that interviewees arrive for the big day dressed informally.

“I have just found myself a glorious suit dress, but alas,” she pleads, before asking: “What on earth does one where [sic] to an informal formal interview?”

Indeed, it’s not as though fully qualified lawyers of long standing don’t also struggle with the concept of ‘casual’ attire.

So-called dress-down Fridays have for some time been the source of constant amusement for trainees and younger lawyers as partners, senior juniors and QCs self-consciously skulk around the office/chambers kitted out in a standard uniform of chinos or cavalry twill trousers and mismatched blazer. The more adventurous might opt for the radical Superdry look, but that generally results in even heightened embarrassment.


Helpful responses to the stressed damsel are already flowing in. One correspondent recommends that the Bar wannabe “stay away from anything too tight, too short, too revealing or too loud,” before qualifying that advice with suggestions that “colours are definitely allowed in summer, and nice hair, makeup, shoes and a bag will do half the work for you”.

Judging by spelling, advice even seems to be coming in from across the Atlantic. One apparently American correspondent says:

“Definitely would recommend wearing well-fitting, good quality shoes in a neutral color. In business settings I find people judge quite a bit on footwear.”

And there’s bad news for those promoting the Britney Spears school of dress from another, apparently Stateside, correspondent:

“No denim at all. Informal means not having to wear a suit and heals, but a dress or pants and sweater/blazer are all good. Not too dressy but still polished and professional. Also no sneakers or worn, dirty, beat-up shoes. You can do flats or heels, but make it professional looking. Nothing strappy! Something simple, fun, classic, a little shine or color is fine. Remember it’s always better to be over dressed than underdressed.”