How You Dress For Court Does Matter

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You have an important date and you want to make a good impression. It’s not exactly an evening date that you’ve had on your mind, but you still want to look your best. When you have a court date, whether it addresses driving violations in traffic court or the consequential business of family and civil court, or the weighty matters tried in criminal court, how you dress is important.


If you were stepping out on a first date with Mister or Miss Right, or you were going to interview for that highly competitive job opening, you would make sure everything about your physical appearance was as close to perfect as possible. So why wouldn’t you dress for an all-important court date? It could make the difference between winning and losing your case, which may be a life changer.


Whether you are a defendant, witness, juror, or just along as an observer, if you are going to be in the courtroom for any reason, the following unspoken dress code will suffice for any type court in just about any area of the country. In many areas some courts have a minimal dress code that court-goers are expected to comply with.


If a judge does not think you are dressed decently, he can order you to leave his courtroom. So, devote some time to selecting appropriate clothing to wear in court. The following will provide some good guidelines for appropriate courtroom attire. A basic rule of thumb is to dress conservatively and to keep it modest.


Think of court as a formal setting. A woman should wear either a suit, blouse and skirt or slacks or a simple dress with hose and a bra. The blouse or dress should not be too low cut; the skirt or dress not too tight or short. Shoes should be a medium to low heel and not some outrageous fad type footwear; they should never be open toed


A man should wear a dress suit or sports jacket and slacks. If you do not have a suit or jacket, at a minimum wear a nice pair of slacks and an ironed shirt and a tie. Dress shoes are best, not sneakers or work boots.


No type of hat or head apparel should ever be worn. Both men and women should take off their coats before entering the courtroom.


The following items are viewed as inappropriate courtroom attire and should always be avoided. While not necessarily banned in a courtroom, these items will make a less than favorable impression and may signal disrespect for the court. In some instances, the judge can require that you leave the court and not return until you are more suitably dressed.


  • shorts or cutoffs
  • tee shirts
  • halter tops
  • flip flops or sandals, sneakers
  • damaged or stained clothing
  • overly revealing garments
  • over-the-top, faddish hairstyles
  • heavy perfume


How you dress for your court date does say a lot about you, and the judge and any jurors will definitely notice, so dress accordingly.

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