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Heather O’Connor is a 3L. After a seven year marriage and three kids, Heather went through a divorce that left her questioning what to do with her life. She decided to become an attorney and has never looked back since beginning the long journey. She entered a local community college after...

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The Power of a Suit

Posted by Heather O'Connor on 10/29/2010 at 09:37 PM

I’m in court a lot lately with the criminal defense clinic, so suits have been my almost every day attire. Since I’m wearing them more, I am beginning to notice the difference in the way people treat you when you have a suit on compared to when you don’t. Well, maybe I shouldn’t say “you” since this is really my own experience, so I should say that I get treated differently depending on whether I wear a suit or whether I have jeans and a t-shirt on.

For example, my parents and my brother live in Carver, Mass. If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s kind of in the middle of nowhere. Famous only for Edaville Railroad and King Richard’s Faire. I graduated high school there so I feel at liberty to describe it as Hicksville (especially considering I now live in the hood of Fall River, Mass). It is a jeans and t-shirt place. I had gotten out of work and drove my kids to my parents’ house one night. My brother and I then went out to dinner at a little local restaurant. Because of the suit, we didn’t get waited on right away, people were giving us dirty looks, and some women actually told me to take my pearls and go back to Boston. My brother laughed at the fact that everyone in the restaurant giving us a hard time would likely be terrified to even walk in the neighborhood I live in (not that it’s that bad - it just has a reputation).

On the other hand, when I’m in Providence, I get more respect when I wear a suit compared to the more comfy jeans and t-shirt outfit. People move out of my way, they will wait on me quicker, and cars will generally stop to let me cross the street, even if the little white light guy isn’t blinking at me. It’s quite a difference.

The only place it doesn’t seem to matter what I have on, whether it be jeans or a t-shirt or a fancy dress suit, is every night when I go home. Your kids are always your kids and they know you for who you are, not what you wear. To them, if I have a suit on, I still am in charge of making dinner and helping them with their homework (and tending to every other desire and demand), and if I have jeans and a t-shirt on, I’m still in charge of signing their permission slips and getting them to their appointments on time, and meeting with their teachers. It’s nice. Home is a safe haven. It doesn’t matter what you do all day - your family knows you for who you are, not who you might be at any given moment. I like that security and it makes me really happy.

On a side note, that was the biggest adjustment for me entering law school - getting used to a suit. I had never worn one before and I was completely uncomfortable. It’s funny how fast you can adjust to something new and different. Now wearing a suit is like second nature. So if you hate it now, don’t worry, it gets better. lol