What to Wear to Court

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Appearing in court can be intimidating, particularly if you aren’t sure what to wear. Whether your court appearance is related to a traffic ticket, a custody issue or jury duty, there are certain ways to dress that will help you appear prepared and professional.

Generally speaking, keeping your outfit within the realm of business casual clothing and in good taste is appropriate for a visit to a courtroom. Good hygiene and basic self-care will also help you to appear respectful and prepared for your court visit.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

In general, business casual attire is most appropriate for court. Your clothing should not detract from your purpose for being present in the courtroom.

How Should You Dress for Jury Duty?

Before appearing for jury duty, read any guidelines your court might have provided. These may specify a dress code for potential jury members.

If the guidelines aren’t specific when it comes to clothing, you should appear as professional as possible. Flashy outfits are never a good idea in court, but a tailored suit or knee-length skirt and blazer are appropriate for jury duty. As a general rule of thumb, business casual attire is considered acceptable if you must appear on a jury.

You may be asked to wait in the courtroom for a lengthy period of time while the jury is vetted and selected. As such, your outfit should be as comfortable as possible within the confines of good taste. Layered outfits are a great choice in case the room is too hot or cold. Avoid anything that is too tight or restricting; you won’t want to be distracted by uncomfortable clothing.

How Should Men Dress for Court?

Men who have to go to court for any reason should wear professional attire free of slogans, holes, patches and wrinkles. Dress pants or slacks should be ironed and worn with a belt. A collared dress shirt and tie along with a suit jacket is a common clothing choice for a court appearance. Avoid sneakers whenever possible, and choose dress shoes that are closed-toed and scuff-free.

Whenever possible, cover tattoos and remove piercings. Combing your hair and being freshly shaved will also help all of your excellent wardrobe choices to shine. Smelling clean is also a good idea, but don’t overload on cologne. Strong scents can be off-putting to others, so stick to soap and deodorant for a court appearance.

How Should Women Dress for Court?

Women who have an upcoming court visit should plan to dress professionally. Clothing should be free of slogans, holes, patches and wrinkles. Shirts and blouses should not be too tight, low-cut or revealing. Skirts should be at least knee-length, and tights or pantyhose are recommended. Shoes should be closed-toed and free of scuff marks.

Covering tattoos and removing piercings before a court date is a good idea. A simple hairstyle and minimal jewelry won’t detract from your well-planned outfit. If you usually wear acrylic nails or bright polish colors, consider removing them for your court appearance. Also, steer clear of strong perfumes, as they may bother others present.

How Should Spectators Dress for Court?

Judges and staff appreciate it when you show respect for their courtroom. Choosing an appropriate outfit is one way to showcase this respect. Even as a spectator, avoid flashy clothing, anything you would wear to a beach (halter tops, flip-flops or very short shorts, for instance) and noisy jewelry or shoes.

Also, keep in mind that many courts require all visitors to pass through a metal detector upon arrival. Leaving coins, watches and unnecessary jewelry at home can make this process more efficient.

Overall, your clothing in the courtroom should not detract from the purpose of your presence there. Showing respect for yourself through your clothing choices is a definite must.

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About the Author

Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. Her experience includes years of work in the insurance, workers compensation, disability, and background investigation fields. In addition to being the content writer and social media manager for Alliance Worldwide Investigative Group, she has written on legal topics for a number of other clients. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com), and she enjoys writing legal articles and blogs for clients in related industries.