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Exclusive: Top divorce lawyer Ayesha Vardag told female staff to ditch the cardigans in incredible 1,000-word dress code email

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Leaked to Legal Cheek

Ayesha Vardag — Credit: Vardags

One of the country’s top divorce lawyers told female staff to ditch the cardigans and that they could be “discreetly sexy” (according to their preference), in an incredible 1,000-word dress code email leaked to Legal Cheek.

It has emerged that Ayesha Vardag, who runs plush bijou law firm Vardags in London’s Old Bailey, dished out personal fashion and lifestyle pointers in an email titled, ‘Attire and image — dress code and beyond’, to staff in July 2019.

“We need to be looking fabulous at all times, including during the summer heat,” the ‘diva of divorce’ writes in the email, before going on to tell new starters and remind old staff of “a few elements to the Vardags brand”.

Women are advised to dress “formal” but are also told they can be “discreetly sexy and colourful and flamboyant at the same time according to your preference”. They should aim for “a Chanel/Dior/Armani look” and “nothing homespun or homely or what you’d cosy up by the fire in”.

Trouser suits are “just fine” but “cardigans are almost never ok”. In fact, Vardag claims in the email she “once sent a trainee in a cardigan out of a client meeting until she could borrow or find a jacket to wear”.

Also considered by Vardag to be a fashion faux pas in the office are “jersey and stretchies” which are “to be treated with extreme caution”. She adds: “Some can be classic and formal but often they look a bit teenaged or low-rent. Baggy, billowy, shapeless things are not good.”

Vardag offers further tips on female accessories. These include stockings and tights which should be sheer, black, dark grey or natural; scarves which should be “silk and classic, not raggedy and sloppy or the sort of thing you might stuff in your backpack on your gap year”; and “elegant” shoes. “I don’t say high-heeled, as I feel high heels have been disenfranchising and disabling women for decades,” she adds.

There’s advice on hair, too, which “should always be squeaky-clean and should at least appear natural”, as well as guidance on nails. “If nails are polished they must not be chipped and must be in (you guessed it) classic colours, not green, blue, black, etc. Clear lacquer or just oiling and filing may be safest in your busy and active lives but if you want to take on the scarlet commitment, hey.”

“Be elegant, sophisticated, classic but with glamour and style,” the email continues. “Never be tacky or tarty and at the same time never be drab. It’s a delicate balance which most of you know instinctively. The naked look, with lots of flesh, is not ok.”

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

Vardag lays out rules for men, too. “It’s a Savile Row look we’re espousing”, writes Vardag, who goes on to encourage male staff to dress “classic, tailored [and] formal”. Cravats and formal waistcoats she doesn’t mind, but woolly jumpers or singlets, tweed or top-stitched trousers are a no-no. So are “super-tight trousers or pointy toes” which are “sternly frowned upon”.

Further, men are advised to wear “classic” shoes that are “black” because, as the old adage goes, “never wear brown in town”.

Vardag concludes with advice on health and fitness. “Eat well, move a lot, watch what you drink, get outside as much as you can, and glow,” she writes.

When approached by Legal Cheek for comment, Vardags director of strategy, Stephen Bence, said:

“As a top City law firm, we hold ourselves to the highest possible professional standards, extending to our dress code — to which every employee consents upon joining the business. While most of our staff have a full understanding of the standards we hold ourselves to, the occasional reminder is needed.”

Read the leaked email in full

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58 Comments

Roflcopter

“Ayesha Vardag, who runs plush bijou law firm Vardags in London’s Old Bailey”

Sounds absolutely top. Does she pay the full Cravath phat whack?

The Var Dags LLP

This is an epic scoop if real. Good job whoever leaked this.

Anon

This is very, very real. And depressingly, one of the least awful things she’s done recently.

MJ

Oh yea, the comments are gun’ be good…

*grabs popcorn*

*keeps hitting refresh button*

Anonymous

This is terribly elitist. She seems like a nightmare to work for. Not every female staff member or fee-earner can afford the “Chanel/Dior/Armani look” or wants to invest in her fitting in with her “brand.” Unless people are literally showing up in gym shorts, there should be no need to comment about normal business formal attire.

Probably compensating for their tier 3 services. I don’t see W1thers having to comment on dress code.

Pen Is Pump

You’ve got that right.

Observer

I sat the LPC with a few of their trainees a while back. One of the chaps was very smart and had a dungeon and dragons vibe to him. There’s nothing wrong with that – but one observation that I did make was that it didn’t take long for him to transition from the Polyester Primani suit ties for the silk Armani variety.

topkek

“Polyester Primani suit”

I’m dying 😀 😀 😀

Anon

That’s basically every criminal barrister. Don’t be a criminal barrister unless you like machine washing your suit.

Lady Kardashian

“Bijou” is quite a fancy way to say small and tier 3.

Shocked and appauled

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOFFFF

Carry

Christ. If working in law wasn’t difficult enough, you have to deal with this nonsense

Tan

This is horrific. What a strange combination of feminism and misogyny. So high heels disable women, but being told to be ‘sexy’ doesn’t?

Anonymous

Not to forget the comments about males of course.

Anonymous

She looks well saucy

Splooge

I’ve been there, you have no idea mate

Anonymous

I SAID NO FUCKING BROWN IN TOWN YOU LITTLE FUCKS

Tom Riddle

extending to our dress code — to which every employee consents upon joining the business

Ste needs a lesson in consent

Unsurprised

Ask any current or ex-employee and they will tell you, this is the absolute tip of the iceberg! She is a vile woman.

Gimpboi

Oh, please do tell. God I’d love to get dominated by this beast of a mature woman.

Anonymous

*Paging lateral hire committee URGENTLY*

Giant Beak

What a bunch of C***s

Lawyer

As long as I’m aware people who work for Vardags paid enough to afford Dior/Armani. So, I think Mrs Aysha can ask for such a dress code.

tolchok

Uh huh, now in English please.

Roflcommando

Lmao Vardags pay utter peanuts mate, hardly enough coin to afford Dior/Armani, you high lol

Amphibian overlord

She’s like an Instagram influencer of the legal world. All style and no substance. Actually on second thoughts she doesn’t even have style

Banking lawyer

Can I record time for the hours spent painstakingly choosing my outfit to meet these ridiculous requirements?

Anonymous

If you are hot you do not need to try. I can understand why she prefers a 1000 word guide.

JDP

Oh yeah. I know the firm. After employing one of their trainees in a personal capacity I Instructed the firm on a professional basis. Fine for wifey to take the kids but that Lambo is mine.

Anon

Mixing your LC memes a bit there pal.

Ash

What? JDP is evolving! **cue Pokemon music**

Booo Naa

I wear a top hat and tales, white tie you know but it just MUST be crotchless and PVC!

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