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What to Wear to Court?

At running the risk of sounding too cliché, it is true that you only have one chance to make a first impression. This is especially so when first meeting your judge and/or jury.

While recognizing that you are more than encouraged to dress according to your personality, keep in mind that judges and juries notice everything. Do you look tired? Disheveled? Angry? Is that a tattoo from your younger wilder days?  Or do you look put together? Responsible? Trustworthy? Your appearance should not be underestimated, and it should not be left to last minute preparation and planning. Furthermore, many courts have local rules that also expressly state that attorneys and their clients should wear appropriate attire.

Your dress and hygiene play a huge role in effectively telling your story and reinforcing your credibility. People (unfortunately) make snap judgments about an individual and in order to help you make your best first impression and improve your chances of prevailing consider the following tips on what to wear and what not to wear to court:

DO NOT WEAR:

Clothing:

  • Sleeveless or muscle shirt
  • Anything sexy or too dressy – tight tops, crop tops, tank top, strapless tops or dresses, short skirts, sequins, slinky tops, revealing tops
  • T-shirts (especially ones with beer, drug or sexual references)
  • Yard work attire
  • Athletic attire – yoga pants, sweatpants, sweatshirts, running shorts, hats, baseball caps, etc.
  • Jeans (unless they are the only long pants you own)
  • Clothing that is too small or too large
  • Clothing that reveals under garments
  • Jean shorts or cut-offs
  • Sunglasses (unless prescribed)

Footwear:

  • Flip-flops or athletic sandals
  • Athletic shoes
  • High-heel spikes
  • Open-toed shoes

Hair:

  • Wet and messy
  • Dirty
  • Unnatural dye job
  • Hairnet and/or curlers
  • Eccentric haircuts or styles

Hygiene:

  • Look dirty or unshaven
  • Cologne and perfume (use very little)
  • Smelling like cigarette smoke
  • Smelling like pot or alcohol

DO WEAR:

Conservative attire that fit appropriately– something you would wear to church, work or a nice social function.

For Men:

  • Suit with tie (preferred, if you have one)
  • Sports coat (if you have one) with tie and dress slacks
  • Long-sleeve button-down collared shirt and dress slacks
  • Wear a belt or suspenders to help keep up your pants
  • If you have long hair, please pull it back)

Women:

  • A dress with jacket or sweater
  • A skirt that hits below the knee with conservative top and jacket or sweater
  • A conservative pant, dress or skirt suit.
  • Conservative top and long slacks.

Jewelry:

  • Less is more. Remove all piercings.

Nails:

  • Make sure nails are neat and clean.
  • Wear neutral nail polish.

Shoes:

  • Wear closed-toe shoes.
  • Wear conservative shoes.

Hair:

  • Look neatly groomed, consider scheduling a haircut two weeks before an important hearing
  • Men: If you have long hair, please pull back

Hygiene:

  • Brush your teeth and use mouthwash.
  • Men: shave before court and trim your mustache/beard.
  • Women: wear very conservative make-up
  • Cover tattoos and remove excessive piercings before court