If you are attending a court hearing, it is important that you dress appropriately. It is not just for your benefit - it is for everyone else's as well.
In general, wear clothes that cover up most of your body, with neutral colors, minimal or no logos, and are not distracting or attention catching.
There are also some things you should never wear in court. Keep reading to see the whole list. But before we start…
Why should I care about clothes in court?
Studies show that better dressed, more attractive, and more friendly appearing people are more likely to win their court case, less likely to be found guilty, and even receive less harsh punishments when they are found guilty.
The truth of the matter is the way you appear has an impact on the way people judge you. Appearing like a professional who understands the rules and conventions of the court works to your advantage. Appearing to disrespect the court, not be serious, or not be a rule-follower hurts the way other people think of you. This isn’t completely fair, but you may as well try to take advantage of it.
Here are the official and unofficial rules to how to dress in court.
What should men wear to court?
In general, men should wear business casual or business formal clothes to court for a hearing, trial, or other appearance.
For men going to a court hearing, you should wear:
- Jeans or pants
- Closed-toed shoes
- Shirt with sleeves at least halfway down the forearm
- If possible, wear a jacket or tie as well.
For men to be completely sure you’re dressed appropriately, make sure your attire includes:
- Khaki or dark colored pants
- Leather or other dress shoes
- Button up neutral colored shirt with full length arms
- A suit coat, sport coat, or other formal jacket
What should women wear to court?
In general, women should wear business casual, business formal, or professional clothes to a court hearing, trial, or appearance. As is often the case, women may be judged more harshly for their appearance, even though it has nothing to do with their case. This isn’t completely fair, but here are some tips to help you take advantage of it to your benefit:
- Pants, dress, or skirt that covers all of your legs or significantly below your knees
- Shirt, blouse, or dress that fully covers your shoulders
- Closed toed shoes, small heels, or other office-type shoewear
- If possible, a suit coat or formal jacket
For women to be completely sure you’re dressed appropriately, make sure your attire includes:
- Pantsuits (often worn by politicians and businesswomen)
- Work appropriate fitting dresses
- Button up neutral colored shirt with long sleeves
- Slight heels or lifts
Be careful to never wear the following:
- Short sleeve t-shirts
- Shorts (cargo or regular)
- Tank tops
- Sagging jeans (anything worn below the waist)
- Spaghetti straps
- Graphic t-shirts with any kind of political, entertainment, violent, or other distracting kind of graphic.
- Sports shirts or uniforms
- Any hats
- See through or partially see-through clothing
- Ripped or torn clothing
Wearing these kind of clothes is very likely to make other people look down at you, and in the worst case, might result in the judge asking you to leave court for the day. Remember, the judge has absolute authority to decide who gets to be in his or her courtroom or not, and can even throw you in jail for contempt of court if you disrespect them or the court.
Should I buy new clothing for my court appearance?
You should probably not buy new clothing for your court appearance. This is because you don’t need the flashiest or best branded clothes - you simply need conservative, professional clothes that don’t distract from you or what you’re saying. If you don’t have these clothes, you may want to ask friends to borrow theirs. If you can’t find clothes that fit the description, then it might make sense to buy new ones, but you can always look for bargains at thrift stores, used closed stores, and the like.
That said, it doesn’t hurt to look better with new clothes if you can afford it.
What kind of colors are appropriate to wear in court?
Think boring. White, black, grey, light blue, light purple are all acceptable. Neon green is unlikely to be acceptable. The best clothes are the ones that people don’t even notice because they fit into the court room so well.
Pictures of clothes people wear in court
Here are some pictures of clothes men and women have worn to court. If you need more examples, just search for pictures of lawyers and see what they’re wearing, or better yet, stop by the court and see what people going in and out are wearing.