Before you can say “What Not to Wear,” law students across the nation will be streaming into chilly conference rooms, ready to start their summer clerkships. Hopefully, they’ll be dressed to impress, or they could find their career options cut shorter than Britney Spears’ hot pants.

“I can tell you this: One really bad dress day — male or female — can make or break whether you get invited back,” warns Tonya Beane Webber, a partner in the Corpus Christi, Texas, office of Porter, Rogers, Dahlman & Gordon. That’s because firms are very reputation-conscious and care about what their clients think of them, she says, and “the last thing in the world a firm wants to do is hire someone who’s going to embarrass them.”

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