The clothes don’t always make the man, but first appearances are crucial in court. Dressing appropriately for a court appearance will show that you understand the gravity of the situation and respect your setting. Although dressing well may not necessarily alter your outcome, your appearance can drastically alter others’ perception of your personality. A neatly-dressed person will appear conscientious and responsible in a courtroom setting.
Dress like you’re going to church. While most people don’t dress extravagantly for church, looking pleasant and presentable is always the goal. Wearing expensive clothing isn’t necessary for a court appearance and may even detract from your case. As long as you look respectable and modest, your clothing budget is irrelevant. Steer clear of bright colors, loud prints or attention-grabbing styles. Make sure all of your clothes are cleaned and pressed the day before your court appearance.
Make sure most of your body is covered up so that you appear modest and respectful. Men should always wear pants and long-sleeved, button-up shirts. Women should wear pantyhose if wearing a skirt or dress. While many people are indifferent on the matter of women’s pantyhose, some ardently believe that going without is reprehensible. Women can wear short sleeves if weather permits, but never low-cut, revealing tops. As a precaution, bring a sweater. Courtrooms are often cold, and you may have to wait for several hours before your appearance.
Wear what feels comfortable. If you never, ever wear skirts or dresses, don’t start with your court appearance. The same goes for ties. Uncomfortable clothing with make you appear uncomfortable, and the judge and jury will pick up on that.
Remove any noticeable piercings except for simple earrings on women. Jewelry should be understated and minimal. Shoes should be closed-toed and conservative. Shine your shoes to ensure they are free of scuffs before your appearance. If your pants are a bit loose, wear a belt or suspenders so that you don’t look sloppy.
If you have long hair, pull it back or wear a headband to keep it looking neat. For women who wear nail polish, opt for a neutral shade for your court appearance. Cover any tattoos with clothing if possible. Makeup should be lightly applied in natural tones. Men should be freshly-shaven with neatly trimmed mustaches and beards. If you have a tendency to perspire a lot, wear deodorant and bring a handkerchief so you appear calm and cool.
References and ResourcesWall Street Journal: Opening Statements: What to Wear to Court
The National Fathers' Resource Center: What to Wear to Court
Wardrobe 911: What to Wear: To Court