How should I dress for court?

How should I dress for court?

In this post we will discuss the topic of how to dress when going into court. As a disclaimer, what we have to say are recommendations on how to dress. In the end, the decision of how you wish to physically present yourself in court is yours.

However, it is important to remember that you are being judged when you step into the courtroom. You will be judged first and foremost based on the law. Everyone has the right to fair treatment in a court, but it is important to remember that people are often judged in life based on the way they physically appear. Be it a job interview, a trip to your mother-in-law’s house, or an appearance in court, the reality is that you are almost always being judged implicitly by the way you physically present yourself.

At the Law Office of William Barabino we strive to win cases and provide our clients with optimal legal representation. Attorney Barabino recognizes that success in the courtroom goes beyond exhibiting mastery of the law. His many years of private practice have taught him that winning means carefully scrutinizing and exploiting both the major and most minute aspects of a case.

Not everybody can afford gold cufflinks and a $1,000 suit. That’s okay though! You can successfully present yourself professionally in court with a limited budget and resources. This post will teach you how.

How do I look professional in court?

If you are representing yourself or you have hired an attorney, it is important to look professional when you go into court. This means NO shorts, baggy pants, torn-jeans, see-through shirts or clothing or jewelry with inappropriate words or images on them. Think about going into court as being similar to going to church or going to a job interview.

Remember that a judge may form a negative opinion about you or judge you negatively if you do not come to court dressed in an appropriate way. Remember that you should dress professionally for every court appearance and not just a trial.

What should men wear?

If you are a man wear long pants and a shirt. Your shirt should have a collar. If your pants have loopholes for a belt, wear a leather belt. Always tuck your shirt in and make sure none of your clothes are wrinkled.

If you have a dress shirt, wear it. If you have an appropriate tie, wear that with the dress shirt as well. Long-sleeve dress shirts are ideal, but if you do not have one you can wear a collared shirt. While you do not necessarily need to wear a suit jacket to court, if you have one, it is recommended that you do. The more professional you look the more likely the judge you stand before will take you seriously.

You should also make sure you have the right shoes for court. Do not wear sneakers. Make sure you wear black socks with your shoes. Avoid flashy colors and never wear flip-flops or sandals.

Keep facial hair clean. Comb your hair and trim any untidy beards or goatees. A more conservative haircut is ideal. Try to avoid hair dyed unnaturally bright colors if possible (for example, blue or green).

Am I dressing appropriately for court as a man?

If you are a man, use this dressing checklist to determine if you are appropriately dressed for court:

  • Am I wearing long pants and a shirt (preferably a long-sleeve, button down shirt)?
  • Does my shirt have a collar?
  • Is my shirt unwrinkled and tucked in?
  • Am I wearing dress-shoes with socks (and if not dress shoes, at least black sneakers)?
  • Is my facial hair and the hair on my head tidy?
  • If I have a tie, am I wearing it?
  • Am I NOT wearing any clothing that is see-through or has inappropriate symbols or writing on it?

If you answered YES to all of these questions, then you are properly dressed for court! If not, go back and make sure you fix what you need to before you are scheduled to appear.

What should women wear?

If you are a woman, wear either a skirt or slacks with a blouse or sweater or a dress that is not too revealing. Skirts should not be too short. Ideally, skirts will fall at least two inches above the knee. Pants should be full-length pants and not capris. With dresses, avoid shiny-cocktail dresses or anything too open or provocative.

Make sure you wear nice shoes. Avoid sneakers, flip-flops, or anything similar. The shoes do not need to have a heel. If they do, make sure the heel is not too long. Make sure the clothes you choose to wear fit well. Do not wear clothing that is too tight or form fitting or too baggy and loose. Avoid low cut shirts and anything too revealing. It is important that your hair is also neat and tidy. Avoid messy hair or hair that excessively hides your face. Style your hair appropriately, ideally in a neatly brushed ponytail or in a bun. Lastly, be conservative with makeup. Try to avoid long acrylic nails or nails painted in flashy colors.

Am I dressing appropriately for court as a woman?

If you are a woman, use this dressing checklist to determine if you are appropriately dressed for court:

  • Am I wearing either a skirt or pants with a blouse or sweater or a dress that is not too revealing?
  • Do I NOT have clothing on that is either too short, too tight, or too baggy?
  • Am I wearing nice shoes that do not have an excessively long heel?
  • Do I NOT have clothing on that is too low cut or excessively revealing?
  • Is my hair neat and tidy and appropriately styled?
  • Am I NOT wearing an excessive amount of makeup?

If you answered YES to all of these questions, then you are properly dressed for court! If not, go back and make sure you fix what you need to before you are scheduled to appear.

How do I know I am dressing appropriately for court?

Ask yourself these general questions to help you determine if you are properly dressed for court: If a judge saw the way I am dressed up right now, would he or she think poorly of me? Would he or she have no opinion? Or would he or she have a positive opinion of me?

What are some other tips?

Here is a list of some additional tips to keep in mind when thinking about how to dress appropriately for court:

  • Avoid loud or large jewelry. Jewelry should not be flashy, inappropriate, or make loud noises when you walk. The “less-is-more” standard is the best with jewelry
  • Consider covering tattoos and piercings. We recommend that you conceal as many of your tattoos and piercings as possible. Earrings are okay as long as they are neither unreasonably loud or large.
  • No hats. Do not wear any sort of head-cover (including hats) unless wearing it is for religious reasons. Take sunglasses off unless you have a medical reason for wearing them.
  • Silence cell phones and other electronic devices. Make sure neither your cell phone nor any other electronic device you own makes a noise when you are in the courtroom. It is best to leave your devices behind in the car or with another person outside the courtroom before you go before the judge. Remember that some courthouses DO NOT ALLOW you to bring your cellphone into the courthouse building. Check with your attorney for more information on which courthouses allow and which courthouses forbid electronic devices inside.
  • Avoid certain brand names and political clothing. Generally speaking, the clothes you choose to wear to court should not have any flashly writing or symbols on them. Do not give a judge reason to dislike you by wearing something that signals your political affiliation.

Remember, if you have a question about dressing appropriately for court you can always ask your attorney.



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