Ok, we know our readers are smart and understand that appropriate attire is necessary for court. We’ve listed some suggested (and mandatory) guidelines below. Our readers also know that everyone (even judges) are influenced by first impressions. So, in addition to the guidelines below, we suggest that you spend a couple hours in your judge’s courtroom before your hearing to get an idea for who s/he is and how they run their courtroom and adapt your style accordingly. If she’s super formal, maybe a full suit is more appropriate or closed toe shoes. If he’s more down to earth, a suit might feel over the top (like you’re trying to hard) – perhaps a business professional or church outfit might be more appropriate.
Also, think about the actual issue before the court and how your clothing might influence the outcome and/or trigger your spouse and/or his/her attorney. (I know, it sounds crazy but judges are people too – and have their own biases to overcome). So, don’t come to court requesting spousal support with a brand new designer handbag at your side (even if you purchased it for 75% off retail).
Tip: If you are bringing a witness or support person(s) with you to court, they should dress well too! This not only helps maintain decorum but shows that you (and your peeps) respect our nation’s laws and Courts.
Most of the below should go without saying, but sometimes people need a little reminder.
As a general rule, you should think of the courtroom as a formal environment. Dress as you would when going for an important job interview or to church. You can be barred from the courtroom if you violate the Court’s dress code.
Men: wear shoes with socks; long pants (on pants with belt loops, wear a belt); collared shirt (tucked in) with a tie, with or without a jacket. Pants must be worn at waist level.
Women: wear shoes; a knee length or longer dress or skirt; or long pants; a blouse, sweater or casual dress shirt.
You will NOT be allowed to enter the courtroom wearing the following inappropriate clothing (being asked to leave to change, can affect the outcome of your matter):
- Hats (men) or hair curlers (women)
- Halter or tube top
- T-shirt or muscle shirt
- See-through top
- Flip flops
- Clothing that exposes your midriff or underwear
- Ripped or torn jeans
- Baggy pants that fall below your waist
- Clothing with an emblem or wording that promotes illegal or inappropriate activity
- Clothing that depicts or promotes violence, sex acts, illegal drug use or profanity
Other items to consider
If you wear or carry a cell phone or a pager, you must turn it off while Court is in session.
No texting while Court is in session.
Body piercing, including but not limited to, tongue, eyebrows, nose, and multiple piercings in the ear should be removed or be very small as not to call attention them. Large, loud earrings in standard piercing holes should be taken out and replaced with studs or small hoops. tongue, eyebrows. Some Judges are more accepting of these expressions of individuality, but play it safe and take them out before court.
Cover up tattoos
If you have tattoos, cover them up, wear long sleeves or long pants. If you have tattoos on your hands or someplace similarly conspicuous, obviously there is not a whole lot you can do, so do your best not to call attention to it. If you have a smaller design on your face, consider some concealer and foundation.
Tame your hair
Make sure that your hair is brushed and clean. If you have a washable dye in it because you wanted blue hair yesterday, wash it out before you go to court. If it’s permanent/semi-permanent dye, style it respectably. If you are a woman with longer hair, don’t opt for the messy ponytail or some crazy-elaborate style. A neatly brushed ponytail, or your hair half pinned up is a good option. You want it out of your face, and you don’t want it attracting undue attention. Men should make sure they do not look like they just rolled out of bed or removed a hat. Facial hair should be trimmed and neat.
If you want to wear makeup, wear it. If you don’t want to wear it, don’t wear it. If you’re not going to wear it, all that matters is that your face is clean. If you are going to wear it, maybe skip the false lashes, the hot pink blush, the bright red lipstick, and the crazy contouring. Opt for something sedate and natural looking.
Shower beforehand, and make sure your clothes are clean. Not wore-them-once-or-twice-so-they’re-probably-fine. Clean. Dry clean them if they require that kind of treatment. Iron them. Use mouthwash or keep some mints in your purse or pocket, just in case your coffee-breath is a little more rank than you’d like. Do not bathe in cologne or perfume, but consider using a little bit, just a dab.
Try to think ahead and not go for the three-inch-long acrylic nails, electric blue nail polish, and flashy nail art prior to appearing in court. Nails should be clean, neat and trimmed in both men and women.
Remember, first impressions matter.
Also, when we dress nice, we often feel better and more confident. If you live a casual life and dressing up feels out of character, think about purchasing something new that you feel great in. Most importantly, you want to feel like yourself and as comfortable as possible – so your true self (and facts) will shine through.