Just the word “court” strikes fear in many people. It’s an intimidating thing to go before a judge or jury and have to have your entire life on public display. No one likes it. But in some cases, it’s absolutely necessary. And whether you like it or not, your appearance plays a role in how the judge and/or jury perceive you. We’ve handled an array of cases and seen many people (not our clients, as we advise before they have to go to court) show up to court in outfits that range from inappropriate to outright disrespectful.
Dressing well plays homage to the judicial system and is a way of showing respect to those around you, as well as yourself. A judge has every right, and we’ve seen them do it, to throw a person out if their dress doesn’t meet their standards.
Before meeting with a judge, lawyer, or government official, you should put thought into what you’re wearing. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be clean and presentable. We’ve had clients shop at secondhand shops and find great outfits at a price that works for their budget. Finding a proper outfit shows you care about the law and your rights; it show you’re taking things seriously,
What men should wear to court
When it comes to choosing what to wear to court, erring on the side of conservative is best. Men should either be clean shaven or have facial hair that is trimmed and tamed. Regardless of why you’re having to show up to court, you can never go wrong with a charcoal or navy suit with a white shirt and simple tie. If you don’t have a full suit you can wear a blazer with coordinating trousers.
If you work with our team at Cohen & Winters, we’ll advise you on what’s best for your case, as well as what the judge tends to favor when it comes to dress. Years in the legal system means we’ve gotten to know the preferences of our judges well.
Your shoes should be dark in color and closed toe. No sandals or trendy tennis shoes. Additionally, any tattoos should be covered, even if they honor military service, which will show on your record anyway.
When you dress down in front of a judge, jury, or government official you could appear to be trying to disassociate yourself from the case and cause the judge or others to draw wrong conclusions about you. In the legal world, appearances matter.
What women should wear to court
Women are lucky to have a variety of clothing options throughout the day, but when it comes to court they’re as limited as men. Simple black and white or navy and white colors are best. Choose from clean pressed clothing like trousers, a blazer, a dress that is not too short, or a skirt.
Your clothing should not be revealing. Please cover up any cleavage, bare arms, or legs. Wear pantyhose if you choose to wear a dress or skirt and always opt for closed toe shoes that are not too high. Stick to flats or heels that are no higher than 2”. The flatter, the better.
When you’re dressing for court, be sure to avoid excessive jewelry. If you’re married, you can wear your wedding and engagement ring. Opt for simple post earrings and, if you choose a necklace, one that is simple. Be sure your jewelry doesn’t make noises when it clinks together.
Just like the men, if you have tattoos you’ll want to have them covered up. And when it comes to your hair, a simple ponytail or brushed and clean is best. Don’t opt for any over the top styles and avoid loud, vibrant colors.
The bottom line
What you choose to wear should be simple, clean, pressed, and presentable. The judge doesn’t care that your outfit shows your personality or embraces your uniqueness. Nope, they simply want someone to show up clean and ready to take whatever legal matters are before them seriously.
Are you in need of legal help? Our experienced New Hampshire law firm has dealt with a variety of cases, including personal injury, criminal, and family law. We’re here to help you with how to dress for court and prepare for your court appearance. We will help you navigate the legal system and find the most favorable outcome to your case. Get in touch with us for a free consultation. We’ll guide you through local laws and the nuances of the legal field, like what to wear to court.