Like it or not – It takes about 1/10th of a second for someone to form an opinion of you.
First impressions are important – especially your first impression on a Judge.
Figuring out what to wear to the Courthouse for your Court date is about more than showing respect. You should view your wardrobe choice as part of your case strategy.
We love freedom of expression. It’s a wonderful thing. We all have our own styles and clothing preferences and in most instances – I say “you do you”. However, everyone should take the same approach to dressing for their Court date. Yep, everyone. Hear me out.
Conservative is Key for Courthouse Attire
You don’t know the Judge, so that means they don’t know you either. The only 2 things they know about you right off the bat is 1) that you are charged with “x” crime and 2) what you look like. That’s your first impression.
We could talk all day about unfair stereotypes and why it shouldn’t matter what you look like. We could even talk about why it shouldn’t matter you are accused of a crime – you are innocent until proven guilty. However, our only goal when we walk in that courtroom – is putting you in the best position possible.
Think of this as a movie and you are being cast as “innocent, productive citizen”. What do you wear to make that impression? Well, you want to wear something conservative – something that couldn’t possibly offend. You also want to wear something that makes you look ‘put together’.
Many people think you have to wear a suit to Court. There’s no question a suit makes a good impression, so if you have a suit that fits you well – go for it. If you don’t, there is no need to go out and buy one or borrow one that doesn’t fit – there are plenty of other ways to dress nice and make the right impression. If you don’t have anything in your wardrobe that works – go to Goodwill or any other local thrift or consignment shop! You’ll find a great deal on the perfect outfit for your Court date.
- Shorts – many courts won’t even let you in a courtroom in shorts.
- Clothes that don’t fit – don’t wear clothes that are too tight, too baggy, or too long.
- Sweatpants, yoga pants, leggings, joggers, or pajama pants. No exceptions.
- T-Shirts – particularly ones with text on them (this is not the time to wear your “Only God Can Judge Me” shirt).
- Clothes that show skin – you want to be as covered up as possible.
- Tank tops or sleeveless shirts
- Crop tops
- Flip-flops or sandals
- Open-toe or strappy heels
- Properly sized clothes
- Collared shirts or relaxed fit blouses
- A belt (if you are wearing pants)
- A relaxed fit dress or skirt that reaches your knees – bonus points if you wear panty hose
- A cardigan, sweater, blazer, or jacket to cover up your arms and add a professional looking layer
- Closed toe shoes – pumps, flats, dress shoes, loafers, or boat shoes. Even nice sneakers or boots may be okay, depending on the outfit.
- Clothes that cover up your tattoos, if possible.
- Dress pants, khakis, or suit pants. Jeans may even be okay if they are nice, fit well, and you are dressing them up with a blazer and good shoes.
Don’t forget to shave, wash and style your hair, and if you usually wear makeup – keep it natural.
Remember, conservative is key. Follow these rules and you’ll be dressed to impress on your court date.