Dressing For Court

On behalf of Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C.

As I walked through the lobby of the courthouse a few weeks ago, I saw many people wearing jeans and sneakers, shorts and flip-flops and ill-fitting athletic gear. Dressing in everyday, casual attire to a hearing or trial shows a lack of respect for the court. Judges and Court Commissioners have the power to make decisions that could have a significant impact on your future. Making the right impression can be crucial to your case. Here are a few tips to review before choosing your courtroom attire:

  1. Wear good quality clothing. Avoid wearing anything that is tattered, frayed or worn out. Your clothes don’t have to be brand new or expensive, but they should be in good condition.
  2. Dress conservatively. Conservative may not be your usual manner of dressing, but for Court you should not wear low-cut shirts, short skirts, unreasonably high heels or anything that may be considered to be too trendy.
  3. Wear bland colors. This is not a party or night out, so avoid bright colors, distracting patterns or anything that will make you stand out.
  4. Look like a professional. Men, outfit yourself in a suit or nice dress pants and a button-down shirt with appropriate shoes. Women, wear a suit, a dress (with plain hosiery) or dress pants and a matching top with low heels or flats.
  5. Wear clothes that fit. Even if it is not your style, you should try to look tailored, but comfortable. Ill-fitting clothing can make you look sloppy or uneasy.
  6. Be mindful of your accessories. This is not the time to show off your Rolex watch, Louis Vuitton purse or Tiffany earrings. This is the time to be modest, so be sure to pare down your jewelry and use a simple bag, wallet or pocketbook.
  7. Groom yourself. Comb your hair, brush your teeth and shave appropriately. Good hygiene is important. Make sensible make-up choices, being sure to avoid bright colors and excessive eye make-up. Apply perfume or cologne sparingly.
  8. Eyewear. Wear your necessary eyewear and remove your sunglasses.
  9. Tattoos and piercings. If possible, facial piercings should be removed and tattoos should be covered.
  10. Ask your attorney. If you have any doubt about what is appropriate to wear to court, consult with your attorney. He or she will be able to give you more specific advice based on the type of case you are involved in.