Denver-based Hannah Proff knows workwear. “As a criminal defense attorney, I’m in court almost every day,” she says. “The unspoken rule is that you have to wear a blazer, but I try to mix it up on the days where I’m not in court.” Here, Hannah shows us five outfits she wears regularly…
“I grew up in rural Alaska and dreamed of being a downtown career lady. There was none of that in my family or the small town I grew up in. My parents tell stories of me talking about the suits I’d wear for my job. Now, I love wearing professional attire and working in the law. When my husband and I watch legal dramas, I’ll pause the show and say, ‘Let me show you how it would really work, I’ll cross-examine that guy…’ He gets annoyed, but I kind of love it. My dad relates to my work by watching Better Call Saul. He’s always like, ‘I’ll tell you what Saul would do.'”
“Since suiting is expensive, I try to buy high-quality basics and add fun accessories — like scarves and jewelry. I have a good tailor and will get blazers re-lined if they get ripped or start to smell weird. I’ve worn this blazer for seven years, and it has been re-lined twice. I’ll get superstitious and if I’ve won a lot of cases in a blazer, I’ll think it’s my winning blazer. This is my lucky one.”
“I own J. Crew’s résumé dress in every color, and I buy them during the huge sales they have now and again. And my sleek briefcase is the love of my life. It’s the perfect size for my laptop and legal files. There’s also Advil, lip gloss, highlighters, turkey jerky… I could survive for days as long as I had my briefcase.”
“My feet are wide, so I’ll get shoes stretched. My cobbler is super grumpy, but you just hand him your shoes, he says, ‘Come back in two weeks,’ and they’re perfect. I’m 6 feet tall, and when I was younger, I’d avoid heels because I used to think, there’s already so much of me! But now that I’m older, I’m like, you know what, there should be more of me.”
“I represent kids who are charged with serious crimes, and I get to really know and like them. The activist Bryan Stevenson says, ‘Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.’ That becomes so clear in my work. I wish people would spend more time thinking about institutional racism and white privilege and how that has affected the criminal justice system. One book I give to my clients all the time is by the poet Dwayne Betts. His incredible memoir talks about committing an aggravated robbery when he was a juvenile. He went to prison for eight years, and now he has a family and is a public defender. It’s hard because people can get so myopic about their situation, but there are examples of people who have made lives for themselves outside the criminal justice system.”
Thank you so much, Hannah! You can also read more about her nonprofit LYRIC, which teaches high-school kids how to safely assert their constitutional rights when confronted by the police.
(Photos by Lashley Rhodes for Cup of Jo.)