The Importance of Proper Court Attire

Defendant in proper court attire in front of a judge in a court.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” This is excellent advice, but unfortunately, it doesn’t necessarily apply in court.

The fact is, people will judge you by how you look, and how you dress for court is an important part of your preparation. While people should be able to get past your appearance, not everyone will. So why take the risk?

The judge and jury, other parties, and the lawyers are all human beings. And as people, they respond and react to what they see. They will form impressions and make judgments based on how you look. Nonverbal cues like how you dress and how you behave will play a role in how people perceive you.

How to Dress in Proper Court Attire

When you picture a courtroom, you likely think of a formal setting. While the world has become increasingly informal, especially after COVID-19, a courtroom is one of the few formal places left. The attorneys and court staff will generally wear suits. The judge will wear a robe. Security officers will wear uniforms.

So how do you know what is proper court attire?

Respectful and Respectable

When you decide what to wear for court, think business casual. Lawyers used to say, “Wear your Sunday best,” or something you might wear to church or a wedding. But nowadays, as society has become more casual, even that is not entirely accurate. If you wear a suit, people may assume you are a lawyer. Dress respectfully without going overboard.

  • Proper Court Attire — Male. Men should generally wear khakis or dress pants, a polo or button-down shirt, and leather shoes.
  • Proper Court Attire — Female. Women should generally wear something comparable to men but have the flexibility to wear an appropriate dress or skirt.

Wear Well-Fitting, Comfortable Clothing

At least a week before your court date, check that everything fits properly. This will give you time to make arrangements or buy a new piece of clothing if you need to.

Wear something comfortable. Your court appearance might be short, or you could be there all day. Choose the proper court attire that shows respect for the occasion and court personnel, but that still allows you to remain relaxed and comfortable.

If you feel relaxed, you will be relaxed. Wearing uncomfortable clothing will affect your posture and focus. And if you are distracted by your clothing, people could misinterpret your discomfort to mean you are not being honest.

Be Well-Groomed

Style your hair and do something to keep it in place. Shave or, if you have facial hair, be sure it is neatly groomed. Brush your teeth, wear deodorant, and trim your fingernails.

While tattoos are increasingly common, they are not accepted by everyone. If you have tattoos, choose proper court attire that will cover them up.

Keep It Simple

You don’t want to look like a slob, but you also don’t want to be ostentatious or dress flamboyantly.

Keep jewelry to a minimum and avoid rings, watches, necklaces, or bracelets that draw unnecessary attention.

Keep your pockets as empty as possible. Bring your keys and a wallet or purse. Be sure to turn off your cell phone or leave it in the car.

What Not to Wear to Court

When choosing proper court attire, sometimes it is easier to think of what not to wear. Items you should not wear to court include:

  • T-shirts, tank tops, or halter tops
  • Shorts
  • Short skirts
  • Jeans or sweatpants
  • Clothing that exposes your undergarments
  • Pajamas
  • Flip-flops, sandals, or Crocs
  • Excessive jewelry or non-traditional piercings
  • Hats, unless you wear a head covering for religious purposes
  • Hoodies
  • Clothing with offensive logos

Make a Great Impression with Proper Court Attire

When you think of proper court attire, you want to be respectful without being overdressed. Don’t wear anything that will stand out. Let your testimony make the greatest impression, not what you were wearing.

In any court case, there are many variables that are out of your control. You can choose what you wear to court. Use it to your advantage.

Contact an Experienced Connecticut Attorney for Help with Your Case

The Lebedevitch Law Firm is based in Fairfield, Connecticut, and proudly represents people in Stamford, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Darien, Rowayton, Fairfield, Trumbull, Westport, Wilton, Weston, Danbury, New Haven, Bethany, Woodbridge, Milford, Stratford, Bridgeport, and throughout the state.

Attorney Stephen Lebedevitch is highly respected by judges, his colleagues, and his clients, and has a proven record of success. To learn more, contact The Lebedevitch Law Firm today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your situation and how we can help.

Categories: Defense Advice