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So you have a court date. But how should you dress for court? A good rule of thumb is to dress as you would when going to an important job interview or church. Dress comfortably, but conservatively. Shoes should cover the foot. Wear subdued colors, solid colors or conservative patterns and minimal accessories. The way you dress for court should communicate to the Judge or jury that you respect yourself and the court.
Does it really matter what I wear to court?
The judge, jury and everyone else in the courtroom will notice how you choose to present yourself and how you dress is their first indication. Make that first impression a good one.
What is the proper dress code for a court hearing?
It is sometimes easier to offer advice on appropriate court attire by identifying what is NOT appropriate.
Appropriate court attire depends on several factors, including the representing attorney’s perspective and opinion, the type of hearing a party has been summoned to, and a person’s job and work schedule.
While there really is no absolute right answer, there are definitely wrong ways to dress for court and dressing inappropriately can (and probably will) hurt your case.
- Wear your shoes with socks (avoid athletic shoes)
- Long pants (if your pants have belt-loops, wear a belt)
- Shirt with a collar (tuck shirt in)
- A jacket or no jacket (go with how you feel most comfortable)
- Shoes that cover the foot (no sandals or athletic footwear)
- A dress or skirt (no more than two inches above the knee)
- Long pants are acceptable
- A blouse, sweater or casual dress shirt
Best practices for dressing for court
Dress respectfully. How you dress will determine that all-important first impression to the judge and/or the jury. Make it count. Wear clothes that are modest, clean and fit well.
You do not need to purchase clothes specifically for court if you already own clothing that is in good repair, fits well and indicates that you understand the seriousness of your situation.
- Court is not a fashion show. Your own personal style is great, but court is not the place to showcase it. Court is the place to look as conventional as possible. Be sure your clothes and body are well-tended and clean including your hair, nails, etc.
- Court is not a club. Do not dress for a party or the bar. Avoid flashy outfits. This is no place for stilettos, short skirts, revealing tops, bright/excessive make-up, or an abundance of jewelry.
- Court is not the gym. No jerseys, yoga pants, or sweatpants. Try to avoid t-shirts, but if you must wear one, select a plain one. There should be nothing vulgar or criminal in nature printed on your clothing. Avoid t-shirts that advertise a product.
- Court is not a slumber party. Do not wear pajamas to court -- just don’t!
What NOT to wear to Court
Avoid anything that covers your face, shows too much skin, or gives a negative impression of you at first glance.
- Halter or tube top
- Sleeveless or muscle shirts
- See-through blouses
- Flip flops, open-toe shoes
- Clothing that exposes your midriff or underwear
- Ripped or torn jeans
- Baggy pants that fall below your hips
- Clothing with an emblem or wording that promotes illegal or inappropriate activity
- Clothing that depicts or promotes violence, sex acts, illegal drug use or profanity
Do I have to wear a suit to court?
The simplest answer is no, wearing a suit is not necessary. If you are comfortable wearing a suit and already own one, then there is nothing wrong with wearing a suit to court.
Often times a person will wear something to court they are not comfortable wearing and it shows. If you don’t wears suits and are uncomfortable in one. that will be obvious to the judge and/or jury. You need to appear confident and comfortable. Wear something that is professional and respectable, that you can wear without fidgeting and looking uncomfortable.
Be conservative and conventional
Avoid wearing jeans. If you must wear jeans, avoid torn jeans or ones with lots of writing or designs.
Court is not the best place to display your tattoos or piercings. It is best to wear clothing that covers as much body art and body modifications as possible. Keep visible piercings to a minimum and remove body jewelry when possible.
Wear your hair in a simple, conservative style, preferably in natural colors.
Listen to your attorney about dressing for court
Always, always, always listen to your lawyer’s advice on dressing for court! Your attorney understands the specifics of your court case, what you are presenting to the Judge or jury and how to present the best case for you. Listen to them and follow their advice above any other advice.
Dressing for court is your first opportunity to positively affect your case in the courtroom and it happens in a matter of seconds. Dress accordingly.