I am usually in court a few times per week. It happens so often that I don’t really tend to think much about what I wear to court. It’s more like a formula:
Start with a boring dark suit
+ boring white/blue shirt
+ boring tie that has red in it
+ boring dark shoes
= Standard-issue Lawyer’s Uniform.
But most people are not in court all the time. They may have never been in court. They may not own any boring suits or boring ties. Or any suits.
And no one should feel like he or she needs to look like a lawyer in court. No one should feel intimidated by what other people wear to court. I have seen people judged by their appearance while in a courtroom, but it wasn’t because they weren’t wearing a suit. It was because they didn’t care.
That is the real issue—can the judge look at what you’re wearing to court and decide that you care about what’s going on enough to treat is seriously?
To that end, I’ve got a few suggestions. These are arranged in order of importance:
- Your outfit should not contain any profanity or offensive language. (It’s really better to just not wear anything with any writing on it.)
- Your outfit should cover up your body from roughly your neck to your feet. This is particularly important if you have tattoos. This means no cleavage, no holes, no rips, no shorts, no short-sleeved shirts, no midriff, and no visible undergarments.
- No piercings outside your ears.
- Your hair should be mostly the same color. Acceptable options include black, brown, blonde, and red. The important thing is that your hair is combed and is a color that occurs naturally in humans, even if it’s not your natural color.
- Your outfit should be clean.
- Your outfit should fit.
The goal is for you to look like a reliable, believable, responsible person. Are there people who dress well who lie? Of course. After all, most politicians dress up every day. And are there people who look terrible who should be believed? Of course.
Nevertheless what you wear to court does say something about you. You should dress as nicely as you can without looking uncomfortable.
It makes a difference.