“Check Out The Shoes My Lawyer Is Wearing”

by Jamison Koehler on March 31, 2012
Aerial view of DC

I used to buy my suits at Joseph Banks. When I started to put on weight, I switched to Brooks Brothers. Now I have my suits tailor made through J Peditto Apparel. But, until just a couple of years ago, I never gave a moment of thought to the shoes I wore.

Linda Mullen, the woman who used to dress my wife, was over at our house one day while we were still living in Philadelphia. She took one look at my shoes and told me that I absolutely, positively needed to buy myself a new pair of shoes. Immediately. Three pairs actually, she said, because every male wardrobe should have multiple pairs. And she told me exactly the type of shoes I needed to buy and where I could buy them.

Following up on her advice, I shelled out more money than I would have thought reasonable for a nice pair of shoes. They were from Allen Edmunds.

On the very first day I wore the shoes, I visited the cell block behind the courtroom before a preliminary hearing. My client took one look at my shoes and turned around to his cellmates:  Hey guys, he said. Look at the shoes my lawyer is wearing.

He felt like one lucky defendant that day.  If he really wanted a paid lawyer, a public defender wearing nice shoes was the next best thing.

Up until that point, it never occurred to me that anyone would ever think twice about the shoes I wear. Now I knew better.

It was also Linda Mullen who referred me to Jim Peditto. I am a hard person to dress. I have short arms and short legs. I also have an enormous neck, which is fortunate considering the even more enormous head that sits on it. If I could get away with dressing at Joseph Banks at one time in my life, I can’t get away with it now. And, as I found out at my brother’s recent wedding, with the measurements for my rented tux called in by phone, once you have been in a suit that really fits you, you can never go back.

It is convenient. Although based in New Jersey, Jim Peditto comes to you. And it is not that expensive. The cost of a dress shirt , for example, is less than the cost of a Brooks Brother shirt after the cost of the alterations has been factored in. And clients like the initials embroidered on my sleeve. I know this because they tell me so.

When I worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with all of its scientists and technicians, some people seemed to take pride in dressing as poorly as possible. In some type of reverse snobbery, it was as if to say:  I am so good at what I do, it doesn’t matter how I dress. I remember sitting in one particular guy’s office and thinking that the only way you can dress this badly is if you do it on purpose.

I suppose you also want your lawyer to look reasonably put together.  Maybe there are defense lawyers who can get away with wearing anything they want. I think of Norm Pattis with his ponytail and flip flops or the flannel shirt Scott Greenfield is wearing in this video. I am what I am, is the message this sends, and I have no need to impress you.  The rest of us, needing to compensate, come to work in a suit.

6 Comments on ““Check Out The Shoes My Lawyer Is Wearing”

  1. J:

    I bought a couple suits two summers ago after reading an anonymous comment in a newspaper by some nameless fashion critic who opined that I looked like an unmade bed. I mentioned it to my wife. “It wouldn’t hurt to buy a couple of suits,” she said. I have yet to replace the sandals!

  2. Jamison, thank you for the mention on your blog. Helping successful professionals like yourself feel confident and well dressed in all business and social situations is what J. Peditto Apparel is all about. We help to make it fun, convenient experience. Thanks to Linda Mullen who put us in touch, I appreciate our relationship and enjoyed recently working with your son on his summer internship wardrobe. Another generation of well dressed Koehlers!

  3. All my work shoes are Allen Edmunds, but I never got that reaction from the guys on the cell block 🙁

  4. J

    Your influence at work: Went to Manhattan today to meet with client at a white-shoe firm. I wore dress shoes. Figured it couldn’t hurt if I was gonna break bread with the power elite. This damn post of yours is what made me think of doing so.


  5. Norm:

    Good. The idea of you ruining the look of two perfectly nice suits with sandals has been gnawing at me ever since you last commented.

  6. Norm:

    And if you are looking for a third (or fourth) suit, I’d be glad to hook you up with Jim Peditto, who I am sure would come to you in Connecticut. There is no guarantee, of course, that you would look quite as good as me.

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