Workplace Woes

According to a 2013 survey by the American Bar Association, women account for 34% of working attorneys and about 48% of law school students. A 2010 survey by the U.S. Department of Labor found that over 40% of women in the workforce worked in management, professional, or related occupations. So, if women make up this significant of a portion in the professional world, why is it so difficult to find a decent suit or professional outfit to wear?

With all the big issues surrounding women these days, this may seem trivial, but it is a common problem that I have discussed with professional women and my classmates. (And hey, this is a blog post, not my soapbox!) Last semester, when we would have moot court or on campus interviews, you could look around the classroom and see four or five girls all wearing the same suit. The reason for that? It was the ONLY black suit that we could find. I’ve asked some of the women of the office where they shop to find nice suits or even things that will “pass” for professional in front of a judge. All of them have the same story: “Oh, I got lucky with this one! I found it X number of years ago, tucked away in the back of the store.”

Almost every women’s clothing store, even those that cater to the “working woman,” only seem to have one suit, so you better like style and color; whereas, there are entire stores devoted to men’s suiting. (Granted, we do corner the market on shoes.) Or these women’s clothing stores have a plenty of trendy blazers and skinny, cropped slacks, but as a new clerk, I have to wonder if it is appropriate for court. Being on trend is important, but avoiding being admonished for inappropriate attire is far more critical.
According to research published in 2013 by Goldman Sachs, women shell out 68% of the total annual spending on clothing. So if we are the ones doing most of the shopping, why can’t stores give a lady some options? I am left to wonder: are we an underserved market or is the market of professional women still not large enough to demand the supply?