How to Dress for a Court Appearance
By Space Coast Daily // May 5, 2020
If you’re going to a court hearing, there’s a lot that you’re likely worrying about. How your hearing or trial will go, what the outcome will be, if you have all the right paperwork filed, etc. How you should dress for the day is likely at the bottom of that list.
Unfortunately, your appearance will make a big impact on your likability and responsibility to the judge and opposing parties.
Whether you’re fighting a traffic ticket, filing for divorce, or trying to win your car accident case, here is how you should dress for a court appearance.
Proper Dress Required
When you receive your notice from the court, it will likely include the phrase “proper dress required.” This phrase can be up for interpretation in a lot of cases, but some states and cities will have legal guidelines for what they expect in courtroom attire.
For example, Slidell, Louisiana suggests men wear long pants with a belt, socks, and shoes, and a collared shirt tucked in. Women can wear a dress, or a blouse, or a sweater with a skirt or pants. Check your court’s website to see if they stipulate guidelines on what you should wear.
What Not to Wear
Figuring out what not to wear is often easier than what you should wear! Most courts will prohibit certain clothing items like flip flops, revealing clothing or items of clothing with profanity or otherwise inappropriate designs. Massachusetts suggests shorts, ripped jeans and baggy pants should also be left at home.
While there are exceptions to these rules, they are rare. For example, in an emergency hearing, it might be permitted to appear in your regular clothes, but for a scheduled court appearance, it’s best to make an effort.
There are, as always, more restrictions on women’s clothing than men. Women are recommended to wear skirts “no more than two inches above the knee,” in several state guidelines, and also prohibit halter or tube tops.
What About Tattoos and Piercings?
If you have facial piercings, you might want to remove them before entering the courtroom — especially if you are the defendant.
Lip, nose, or eyebrow rings could look unprofessional to the judge. If you choose to keep them in, make sure to wear simple and understated jewelry.
A small gold nose stud or thin hoop is perfectly fine. Keep the same style with your ear piercings, if you have any. Now is not the time for flashy and dramatic style!
It is similarly suggested to cover large tattoos. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants can easily cover any arm or leg tattoos, and ones on your wrists and hands could be camouflaged by watches or jewelry.
You can also try covering your tattoos with makeup if they are too noticeable to be hidden by watches. This is good for face and neck tattoos as well.
There are several makeup brands that specialize in covering tattoos— it might be worth investing in some, particularly if it’s an ongoing trial with multiple court dates.
Treat It Like a Job Interview
Essentially, you should treat the courtroom the way you would a job interview and dress professionally. Business casual attire is your best bet.
Men can wear a jacket and tie, or not, depending on the circumstances. Dressing too casually in clothes like sports jerseys and sweatpants will leave a bad impression.
On the other hand, dressing too formally in a three-piece suit or gown can attract attention in a bad way.
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