Different situations or events require different attire. For example, you would not dress the same way you would for a casual day at the park as you would for an interview for a new job. For that matter, you might wear a different outfit for an interview with different employers.
Choosing an outfit for a court appearance should be given the same level of care you would give to choosing an outfit for an important interview or meeting. While the law and the facts should be the only things that matter in a courtroom, your clothing makes a statement. First impressions are difficult to overcome, even in a courtroom.
Our personal injury lawyers understand that many clients have never had to go to court for a hearing or trial. A personal injury lawsuit might be the first experience someone has in a courtroom other than a simple traffic ticket. For that reason, we offer some helpful tips and suggestions for choosing what to wear to court.
Putting Your Best Foot Forward in Court
The first expression you make to the judge and the jury is with your appearance. Everyone is guilty of making snap judgments about a person from their appearance. Snap judgments can be difficult to overcome.
Therefore, you want your appearance to suggest that you are treating the matter with respect. Your outfit should indicate that you value the court’s time. Wearing overly casual clothing may give the impression that you do not want to be in court, you are not taking the matter seriously, and you do not care about the outcome of the case.
You are not expected to purchase an expensive outfit for court or dress in a tailored suit. However, there are some clothing choices that you should avoid when going to court.
Clothing to Avoid When Going to Court
Some courts do not permit certain types of clothing. For example, shorts and uniforms are not permitted in Miami-Dade County courts. Many courts do not permit individuals to wear hats in the courtroom.
Other clothing you should avoid when going to court include:
- T-shirts or shirts without sleeves
- Any type of exercise clothing, including sweatshirts, sweatpants, and yoga clothing
- Crop tops or tank tops
- Clothing that has explicit language, photos, or images
- Flip flops and athletic shoes (tennis shoes or sneakers)
- Open-toed shoes and spiked high-heels
- Large pieces of jewelry, sunglasses, and other eye-catching accessories
- Provocative clothing, including miniskirts and low-cut shirts/tops
- Capris and leggings
- Sundresses or strapless dresses
If you have trouble judging whether a piece of clothing is appropriate for court, avoid wearing clothing that you would wear to the beach, to work in the yard, to the gym, or any casual gathering. It is also a good idea to avoid wearing strong perfume or lotions to court. Hairstyles vary, but when you go to court, try to avoid bright colors, wet hair, or messy hairstyles.
What Clothing is Appropriate to Wear to Court?
A good rule of thumb for court attire is conservative clothing that fits correctly. Clothing should not be too large or too small. Think of clothing that you would wear to a church service, to a meeting in a professional office, or a nice social event.
Office attire or business casual attire is also a good choice for going to court. Business casual attire includes button-down shirts, dress pants, and conservative dresses. Shirts should have collars, except for a woman’s blouse, which may be without a collar but not low-cut.
Shoes need to be closed-toed shoes. Conservator shoes are typically the best. Loafers or dress shoes are appropriate.
If you do not own a suit and tie or a nice dress, do not worry. You probably own something that will be appropriate for court. You can talk to your attorney if you are unsure whether an outfit is acceptable for a court hearing.
You may want to invest in a nice pair of pants and a nice shirt if you are concerned that your clothing may not give the best first impression when you enter the courtroom. Also, you might need several outfits if your case goes to trial. A trial could last a couple of days or a couple of weeks, depending on the complexity of the case.