Appearances are Important for Court

It doesn’t matter whether you are a defendant, plaintiff, petitioner, claimant, or victim. Your appearance matters, the first impression that you give a court can affect the outcome of your day in court. We’ll be going over the basics first before going through some more specific dress tactics. The important thing to convey with your attire is:

  • You respect the courtroom and everyone in it.
  • You are being considerate of how serious the matter is.

This doesn’t mean that you have to dress up in your best suit for a simple traffic ticket, but it also means that you shouldn’t wear a muscle shirt and flip flops.

What to Wear in Court

This is a bit of a best case scenario, the most important thing is to try to look your most respectable. If you do not own the best case scenario outfit then depending on the severity of your case you might be ok with wearing something more basic. Make sure to check out the What Not To Wear in Court section below to avoid some of the worst things to wear in court.

Men’s Outfits For Court

For men the ideal outfit for court would go in this order:

  1. A proper fitting suit with tie, it’s best if it’s not too flashy.
  2. A sports coat and long dress pant with a tie.
  3. A long sleeve button up shirt, preferably with a tie.

Remember this is about showing the court that you respect the matter at hand, so your outfit should be clean and well kept. Excessive jewelry should be removed before arriving to court.

Appropriate Pants for Court

Long pants are a must when you’re attending court as many courtrooms won’t even allow you to enter if you are wearing shorts. Ideally you should be wearing matching pants for your suit, but if that isn’t possible then the ideal pants would go in this order:

  1. Matching, well fitting pants for your suit.
  2. Dark dress pants
  3. Dress Pants
  4. If you absolutely need to you can wear a pair of dark & clean jeans.

Appropriate Shoes for Men in Court

  • A closed toe shoe is a must
  • A conservative dress shoe is preferred
  • Make sure your shoes are cleaned and well taken care of.

Hair for Men in Court

  • The ideal time to schedule a haircut is two weeks before your court date as this will give you time to fix any mistakes
  • Make sure your hair is clean, dry, and well taken care of
  • Avoid wearing any hats or accessories in your hair. If you have long hair, try to tie it up/back.

General Hygiene

  • Make sure you shave and maintain your beard or mustache prior to your court date.
  • Shower before your court date, it’s important to look and smell your best.
  • With smelling your best in mind, wear deodorant (you will likely be nervous and may sweat). Don’t wear too much cologne as it can be quite off putting in a crowded room.
  • Try to cover any tattoos prior to arriving in court. Yes it is the 21st century, but you don’t know how conservative your judge or jury may be so it’s best not to risk it.

Womens Outfits For Court

What to wear in Court for Women

Womens Outfits For Court

For women it is a little bit trickier, because some suits can still be considered too sexy or fashion forward for a conservative court. A good rule of thumb is to imagine you are dressing for church. Ideally you would want to wear a conservative suit or pants suit. A simple blouse with long pants is also acceptable.

Remember this is about showing the court that you respect the matter at hand, so your outfit should be clean and well kept. Excessive jewelry should be removed before arriving to court.

Appropriate Shoes for Women in Court

  • Ideally a closed toe shoe is preferred
  • A conservative dress shoe is preferred
  • Make sure your shoes are cleaned and well taken care of
  • If you are wearing high heels, try to avoid an excessively large spike

Hair for Women in Court

  • The ideal time to schedule a haircut is two weeks before your court date as this will give you time to fix any mistakes
  • Make sure your hair is clean, dry, and well taken care of
  • Avoid wearing any hats or accessories in your hair. If you have long hair, try to tie it up/back.

What not to Wear in Court

Shirts you should not wear when dressing for a court appearance

The goal is to show that you respect the court and their time, so while not everyone has a full well-fitting suit it’s best to try to look your best with what you have available. That being said, here is a list of things to avoid wearing in court.

  • Anything with the word sweat in it is a no go, this includes sweat shirts, sweat pants, sweat suits.
  • Try not to wear anything too sexy or revealing. This means no short skirts, bedazzled shirts, or low cut tops. If you’re not sure because it’s your personal style then ask a friend (but if you have to ask, it probably doesn’t make the cut).
  • No exposed stomach or spaghetti straps on your shoulders.
  • Make sure that your shirt has sleeves, this means absolutely NO muscle shirts
  • Nothing with stains or dirt.
  • Try not to wear a t-shirt, if you must make sure that it doesn’t have any improper references (no band, drug, or sexual t-shirts)
  • Make sure your underwear remains inside your pants.
  • Hats in general are frowned upon
  • Absolutely no shorts. Pants are a must.
  • Try not to wear jeans unless they are the only pair of pants that you own. If you do wear jeans, try to wear the darkest pair.
  • Ill-fitting outfits.

Footwear you should not wear in Court

  • Do not wear sandals as they give off the impression that you don’t care about the court.
  • Try not to wear athletic runners unless they are the only closed toe shoes that you own. If you must wear a pair of runners, you should ensure that they are cleaned prior to your day in court.
  • Open toed shoes in general are ill advised
  • Do not wear any type of shoe that can make a lot of noise
  • Extremely high heels, a lower heel is ok but a large spike can go over poorly in some courthouses

Hairstyles to avoid in court

This can be taken as seriously as you would like to. If you’re headed in for a simple traffic ticket, I wouldn’t do much more than make sure my hair was styled properly. On the other hand if you’re headed to a large trial for something more serious I would definitely think about having a naturally colored, conservatively styled haircut.

  • Wet hair shows the court that you are unprepared for the day
  • Messy hair shows the court that you aren’t taking it seriously
  • An unnatural (bright colors) hair color, or unusual haircut can reflect poorly on a judge or jury. Again, this is something you would have to think about, it is the 21st century after all and you shouldn’t be judged on your hairstyle…but this is just the world we live in, and you absolutely might be judged more harshly by having a bit of style.
  • For men it is best to be clean shaven, if you do have a beard or mustache try to make sure that it is combed and kempt.

General tips on things to avoid in court

These may seem fairly obvious, but they need to be stated. Sometimes people can have a nose blindness when it comes to themselves, or are just unaware of what they wear or do.

  • No sunglasses unless it’s for a medical reason
  • Cologne or perfume can be worn, but sparingly
  • If you are able to, try to cover any tattoos you might have before arriving to court. Tattoos are ok for the majority of the younger generation, but if you get a particularly conservative judge or jury you could end up in more trouble.
  • Remove excessive jewelry before arriving to the court room
  • Try not to have excessively long nails before your court date
  • Make sure you don’t smell of:
    • Cigarette
    • Alcohol
    • Marijuana