When your court date rolls around, it’s important to know what to wear. After all, first impressions matter a great deal, particularly if your case’s outcome could go one way or the other. As such, how you dress can have a huge impact on how the judge and/or jury views both you and your case.
To this end, we recommend that you dress well so that you may be viewed in the best possible light, appearance-wise and otherwise.
Fortunately, you don’t have to guess what to wear to court. Read on for a detailed breakdown and dress code guide for men and women headed to the courthouse. Alternatively, you can contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers at 1-516-342-2200 or online today for a free consultation and immediate assistance with your upcoming legal case.
Why Worry About What to Wear to Court?
First impressions matter. What you wear affects this, for better or worse.
As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a positive first impression. When it comes to court appearances, the moment you walk to the door and the judge or jury sees you is that first impression. If you dress to meet court expectations and make it clear that you will work with the court system through your apparel, you’ll be more likely to get sympathy from the people that matter.
The flipside also applies, of course. If you dress provocatively, unprofessionally, or in a way that attempts to cause emotional distress in another person or party, any judge worth his or her salt may view you unsympathetically. Similarly, juries may look upon you less favorably, even if the other circumstances of your case make you out to be a sympathetic figure.
Every point you can get in your favor matters when it comes to any court case, such as a lawsuit or other legal battle. If something as simple as how you dress can positively affect your legal outcome, why wouldn’t you dress properly?
Because the stakes are so high, it’s always important to think carefully about what to wear to court. The right personal injury attorneys will provide guidance in terms of your wardrobe and appearance prior to your court date. But to get ahead of this and start thinking about your wardrobe, please keep reading.
General Rule of Thumb: Dress Conservatively
As a general rule of thumb, it’s better to dress conservatively than “liberally.” Note that these terms don’t refer to the political parties; they instead refer to the overall feel or theme of your clothing.
For example, a suit, tie, and jacket would likely be considered conservative for a court date. On the flip side: a T-shirt, tank top, and flip-flops would not. If you’re ever stuck wondering whether a given piece of clothing may suit the court, ask yourself whether you would wear it to a funeral or another similarly formal public event.
Dressing conservatively is important because it shows that you take the proceedings seriously and that you are at the court for business. A judge is more likely to look upon you favorably if you show up in a suit ready to represent yourself as a mature adult.
Similarly, such a professional is less likely to look upon you favorably if you show up in flip-flops and a hoodie, which shows that you don’t care enough about the proceedings to dress appropriately beforehand. Judges don’t respect a court attendee that doesn’t respect the legal system.
Hide Tattoos and Remove Piercings
What else should you consider when dressing for court? Many people have tattoos, but if you are due to show up in court, hide them with your apparel.
Say that you have a tattoo on your left shoulder. You don’t have to get the tattoo removed before going to court. But it’s still a good idea to wear a long-sleeve shirt or a suit jacket over your tattoo, even if it’s in the middle of summer and quite hot. Tattoos are still thought of as unprofessional in a variety of professional contexts. While you may think this is unfair, your goal isn’t to change the legal system; it’s to emerge from the court with a victory.
By the same token, remove any piercings you have. It’s not your place to argue with the judge about what is and is not professional. For instance, if you have a lip or tongue piercing, take them out before going to court. You can always put them back in after you are done.
There’s an exception for women: earrings. If you have conservative earrings – that is, earrings that aren’t excessively flashy – they are permitted, especially when paired with a good business suit. Still, it may be a wise idea to defer to the expertise of your attorneys if you aren’t sure whether a given pair of earrings are appropriate for court or not.
Wear Clothes That Fit
No matter what specific articles you choose to wear, be sure that your clothes fit. Properly fitting clothes always look better than clothes that don’t fit well. That’s true for shirts and slacks just as much as for full-on suits and suit jackets.
This isn’t to say that you must get your clothes tailored, especially if you only show up in court once and it’s not a regular occasion. However, don’t wear baggy jeans or a shirt that’s obviously a size too large.
Don’t Forget Your Smell
A final tip – what you smell like is just as important as what you wear. If you smoke a cigarette before going to court, don’t fool yourself into thinking the judge or jury won’t be able to smell it on you. It’s a much better choice to shower, dress appropriately, and then have a mint before heading into the courthouse.
Humans are judgmental creatures. If you smell bad, this can inadvertently have a negative effect on how the judge or jury views you, even if it’s not fair or logical.
Color Considerations for Court
The colors you wear can impact the efficacy of your chosen outfit. In fact, colors have an important effect on human psychology, so it pays to consider the shades of your clothes before wearing them to court.
Specifically, you should avoid black unless you are wearing a full suit. That’s because black can seem authoritative, imposing, or even guilty in an ironic and roundabout way, particularly when you are the defendant. Defendants should instead try to wear humble and serious colored clothes, such as navy, white, or beige.
Stay away from bright and bombastic colors like neon green, yellow, and red, which can appear provocative (and even deliberately insulting to the court). Generally, core business-suitable suit colors, such as gray, white, and navy blue, are perfect for any court appearance.
Again, the “Would you wear it to a funeral?” test rings true. If you think the color would work for your Sunday best, it’s probably good for the court, as well.
Dos for Dressing for Court
Before we dive into dress code specifics for men and women, let’s break down some generalized dos and don’ts. When it comes to court apparel, key do’s include:
- Always color-coordinate your outfits. Don’t go monochromatic, which makes you look less mature. Choose neutral, professional colors and mix and match them for maximum aesthetic effect.
- Always wear dark leather shoes whenever possible. The better your shoes, the better your outfit should look overall.
- The room and trim your hair properly. A clean, conservative haircut can do wonders for your appearance and your appeal to the judge or jury compared to a wild haircut that looks unkempt at best.
- If you wear jewelry, keep it to a minimum. Wedding bands are fine, but bracelets, excessive rings, and flashy earrings are usually not good additions to your court ensemble.
- Clip and trim your nails. If your nails are polished, make sure they are a neutral, conservative color.
- If possible, try to tailor your outfits. This holds especially true if you wear a suit to court. With the right trim and tuck, your chosen clothing items will look that much better.
Don’ts for Dressing for Court
There are just as many things you should avoid when dressing for court, such as:
- Don’t wear flashy jewelry, as mentioned above.
- Don’t overdress by wearing too many articles of clothing or by choosing articles with flashy or distracting colors and/or patterns.
- Never wear hats of any kind. You can wear a hat outside, but as soon as you step into the courtroom, take it off and set it aside.
- Never wear sneakers or casual shoes, even if it’s hot out.
- Don’t show any tattoos or piercings that you can cover up or remove.
- Don’t overdo your makeup. It’s okay to wear a little makeup that accentuates your appearance or is appropriate for a professional environment. But don’t wear flashy makeup intended to draw attention to your person.
- Don’t wear clothing with flashy or distracting patterns.
- Don’t wear tight, revealing, or overly short clothing. Generally, the less skin you show, the better. This is true for both men and women.
If you have any questions, contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers at 1-516-342-2200 today for a free consultation. We are ready to help you determine what to wear to court, and it would be our honor and privilege to fight for you.
What Should Men Wear to Court?
Men have distinct dress codes that should stick to whatever they appear in court. Additionally, these dress codes are identical to those found in serious work or corporate environments. Still, let’s take a closer look at what men should wear to court.
When it comes to male courtroom attire, you can’t beat the classic suit. A navy blue, gray, or white suit or some other serious or neutral color is the perfect choice for any courtroom appearance.
Why? A suit is the default professional, work-ready attire for males. When you wear a suit, you tell everyone that you are ready for business and focused on the task. That’s a positive impression to provide to the judge or jury for any legal case coming up in the future.
Just be sure that your suit is tailored to fit you well and that it comes with a dress shirt that is buttoned up to the top. Don’t leave some of the buttons of your shirt undone – this can ruin the professional element of your ensemble and make you look less formal or less serious, both of which you do not want in any courtroom environment.
Slacks, Button-Downs, and Ties
What if you don’t have a suit? In that case, tailored slacks, a button-down shirt, and possibly a tie may suit you well.
The key thing to remember is color complementarity. For example, if you have gray dress slacks, you should wear a blue or white dress shirt to avoid looking too monochromatic. In essence, your slacks, button-downs, and ties should all be color-coordinated.
That said, wearing a tie is not necessarily required. It will give you a more formal appearance, but if you don’t have a suit jacket at your disposal, you might actually look a bit better by forgoing the tie. However, you should always make an effort to wear dress shoes and a belt.
As an aside, plenty of men wonder whether nice dress jeans fit the court dress code. The short answer is no. You should not wear jeans under any circumstances. If you have to show up to court, always wear dress slacks.
Facial Hair Guidelines
Men need to keep track of their facial hair during the run-up to court day. If you have a beard or facial hair of any variety, it must be trimmed and well-maintained. Clean-shaven is always better since there’s no way to mess it up. But if you have grown your beard for some time and don’t want to get rid of it entirely, just make sure it looks controlled rather than raggedy or dirty.
If you decide to go clean-shaven, ensure you are actually clean-shaven, not sporting stubble or a five o’clock shadow. That can make you look unruly or ill-prepared for court, minimizing your aesthetic benefits.
What Should Women Wear to Court?
Just like men, women also have dress code style guides they should pay attention to when dressing for court. Keeping these tips in mind is even more important since women generally have a more flexible dress code in the workplace.
Simple Suits and Skirts
As with male dress codes, simple suits and work-appropriate skirts are usually fine. The golden rule applies; if it’s appropriate for your workplace, especially a serious meeting with your supervisors, it’s likely good for court.
Remember that your suit and skirt should complement each other and be in colors that reflect the serious nature of the court proceedings. Don’t wear a suit or suit skirt in a bright color, especially potentially provocative colors like red. Stick with gray, blue, or white suits and skirts whenever possible.
A Skirt and Blouse with a Jacket
If you don’t want to wear a suit, or you don’t have one, you can wear a formal skirt and blouse with or without a jacket, depending on the temperature of the courtroom or the season. Again, your skirt and blouse with your jacket should be in a neutral, professional color like navy blue, gray, or white.
The key thing to remember is your skirt and blouse should be functional above all else. For the best results, choose a skirt and blouse that make you look serious, focused, and professional to the extreme.
Avoid Showing Too Much Skin
Women heading to the courtroom should take care not to wear clothing that shows too much skin. Unfortunately, knowing just what counts as “too much” skin in a courthouse can be tough.
Generally, skirts should go well below your knees. You should not show much skin around your legs, nor should you show a lot of skin around your arms, neck, or chest. You don’t have to dress exceedingly conservatively, but more conservatively is always better than less.
It can be difficult to find the perfect court-ready attire as a woman, especially since many feminine clothing articles do focus on showing skin or maximizing aesthetic appeal. For advice and assistance, ask your lawyers for help, especially if they have female legal staff available.
Courtroom Etiquette Tips
While wearing the right clothing is important to improve your court appearance, practicing proper courtroom etiquette is also crucial. In fact, it doesn’t matter how well you dress if you behave improperly in the eyes of the judge or jury.
Fortunately, courtroom etiquette follows the same general theme as courtroom dress codes: professionalism. Be as professional and respectful as possible, and always defer to the rulings or judgments of the judge or arbiter in the case. For example, if a judge tells you to do something, do it immediately without talking back or trying to disagree.
Other good courtroom etiquette tips include but are not limited to:
- Don’t eat or chew gum in the courtroom under any circumstances. If your court appearance takes a long time, don’t worry; the judge should eventually excuse everyone for a lunch break.
- Don’t read a newspaper or do anything that implies your attention is elsewhere. You can read papers or other materials that are vital to your case.
- Don’t use earphones. Make it clear you are listening to the testimonies and the judge or jury members.
- Only use your cell phone when allowed. Turn off your cell phone when you are in the court and are supposed to be listening.
Generally, if a behavior can possibly be construed as rude, there’s a chance that the judge and/or jury will interpret it as such. And so, you should always err on the side of caution by being humble and respectful when in court or on the nearby premises.
What Should You Do if You’re Not Sure What to Wear?
If you’re unsure what to wear to court, there’s an easy solution: contact knowledgeable attorneys immediately.
You should already be working with lawyers if you have an upcoming court appearance. The right attorneys can assist by helping you gather evidence, counsel you on your legal options, and represent you on your court date. This is true regardless of the specifics of your case – for example, Schwartzapfel Lawyers represents clients in the areas of personal injury, auto crashes, workers’ compensation, and more.
In addition to offering well-honed advice, experienced lawyers can guide you on what to wear and how to present yourself in court. This is because odds are they’ve helped clients in similar situations in the past.
When you work with Schwartzapfel Lawyers, rest assured that we will be able to help you put together a stellar outfit that makes you appear professional and serious on your court date. Contact us today at 1-516-342-2200 for more information and a free consultation!
Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers Today
At the end of the day, you should dress conservatively and professionally whenever you go to court, whether for a traffic ticket or a major trial. The more professionally you dress, the more inclined a judge or jury will be to take you seriously and view you in a sympathetic light.
But remember, you don’t have to remember exactly what to wear by yourself. When you contact knowledgeable personal injury attorneys like Schwartzapfel Lawyers, we’ll give you the counseling and advice you need to make sure that, no matter the legal proceeding, you look your best – for your case and your future.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this page should be considered legal advice. You should seek the appropriate counsel your situation requires. For more information, call 1-516-342-2200 now!