Dressing for Court

Updated: Jun 4, 2019

How to look presentable for your court appearance.

Going to court can be a nail-biting experience for anyone, especially if you’re doing it without an attorney. One of the best ways to ease your pre-court jitters is to present yourself in the best light possible. This means dressing your best. You can actually trick yourself into being more confident than you feel by dressing up for an occasion. It’s classic “fake it until you make it” logic, and it works.

The courtroom has a reputation for being an overly formal, stuffy place. While the formality of court should be respected, it’s nothing to be feared. The best court attire is business casual; a nice pair of slacks and dress shirt or a nice dress will do just fine. If you don’t have any clothes to fit this bill, don't worry. Wear the best you have, even if that means clean jeans and a T-shirt.

Here are a few tips on what to wear to court.

Your clothes should always be clean when you go to court. Dressing nice for court shows that you take your matter seriously.

What to Wear:

  • Your best clothes - Make sure your clothes are clean and fit you properly – nothing too big and nothing too small.

  • Do your hair - Your hair needs to be clean and kept just like your clothes. You don’t want to look like you just rolled out of bed.

  • Shower before court - you want to be as clean as your clothes.

Your holey jeans may be appropriate to wear out with your friends, but they are too casual for court.

What NOT to Wear:

  • No hats, sunglasses, or offensive logos

  • Avoid strong odors – perfume, cologne, alcohol, marijuana

Light perfume and cologne is okay, but the scent of alcohol or marijuana is not. Smelling like alcohol or marijuana makes you look unprofessional, and it destroys your credibility with the judge. You also need to remember that you will be in a confined space with other people and should be courteous to their senses.

If you have questions about what to wear to court, follow this simple rule:

If you would wear it to the beach, don’t wear it to court.

© 2019 by VLP - Volunteer Lawyers Program