I recently wrote a piece for the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (WLALA) titled “In Defense of My Arms and Toes” (https://wlala.site-ym.com/page/August17DressCode). The piece briefly touches on the recent drama re women’s bare arms in Washington, beginning with my own recollection of short-skirt-shaming in the sixth grade. (Should you read the article, the episode I detail occurred in Southern California in the 2000s, so I’m sure young girls are still being shamed in a similar manner today.)
WLALA published this piece last week, on August 3, 2017.
It so happens that the previous day, I found myself at The Bar Room in The Modern in New York City. I was meeting Krystin, a friend from high school. I mentioned I had written this article, and that it would be coming out shortly. We chatted briefly about dress before moving on to other topics.
Then, a man at the bar began speaking to us. Krystin had made a comment about her wine being sweet. He apparently overhead, and insisted she send it back. She said she was fine, but this man waived down the bartender and demanded he take Krystin’s wine back. He said, get whatever you want, I’ll buy it. Well, since he had taken away her other glass, she certainly would.
He then injected himself into our conversation. He asked where we’re from, what we do… And then, he said to me, “You’re not dressed like a lawyer.” I opined that perhaps I was dressed more like someone from LA, LA being a more casual town than New York. “You’re dressed like someone from LA who is something other than a lawyer.”
Krystin and I laughed about the timing of this. We had just been talking about the issue of female dress. It was almost funnier than the fact that a stranger had stolen a glass of wine that Krystin had liked, and bought her a glass of one she didn’t. (“Sweet” did not mean “bad” in this context; Krystin had made an observation, not a criticism.)
I will say, I was not dressed to go to court that day. I was at a bar, on a vacation, visiting with an old friend from high school. I was casual. Nonetheless, a stranger at a bar felt the need to opine that I did not look like a lawyer, whatever that means…