Dress for Success: What to Wear in the Courtroom

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What you wear in the courtroom matters. Making a good first impression on the judge is a first step toward having your voice heard and getting a favorable outcome. A judge will fairly listen to your case and focus on the provided evidence to arrive at a ruling. He or she will also take into consideration the credibility of your appearance and how you present yourself. Preparing for a hearing is stressful and the last thing you need is the added stress of how to dress. Follow the below tips on how to dress for success and feel confident walking into the courtroom.

Dress for the Location

You should dress for the location of the courthouse. City court tends to inspire more traditional dress than suburban courtrooms. Consider wearing a solid dark suit and basic shirt color for city court. Nice dress pants with a complimentary jacket or blazer would be appropriate for a suburban courtroom. When in doubt, you can take a look at the court system’s website for help with the dress code.

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Keep it Professional

A courtroom is a place of professionalism, so when in doubt keep your dress professional. Female clients and attorneys can wear a pantsuit, dress, or skirt suit. Opt for neutral colors rather than distracting bright colors. Neutral colors include navy, charcoal, white, and light blue. You can never go wrong with wearing a traditional or conservative outfit. No matter how you interpret a professional style, remember to wear professional footwear. Tennis shoes, sandals, strappy shoes, and flashy stilettos are a no-go.


Give a Clean Presentation

You need to give a clean presentation when appearing in a courtroom. This means paying attention to your grooming. Wash, comb, and style your hair. Men should consider getting a haircut if their locks are getting unruly and trim any excess facial hair. Consider changing brightly colored hair to natural color as hats are not acceptable in a courtroom.

How your garments fit factor into your overall presentation. Ill-fitting clothing can undermine your credibility. The hem length of a skirt or dress should come to the knee, and pants shouldn’t be so long that you trip on them.

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Body Art, Tattoos, and Piercings

There’s nothing wrong with having tattoos, piercings, and body art, but a courtroom is not the place to show them off. When appearing for court you need to remove any piercings that you can and do your best to cover up visible tattoos. Wild, vibrant hair colors also need to be toned down. Refrain from wearing a lot of accessories like large earrings or distracting bracelets.

Follow these tips to take the stress out of what to wear for the courtroom so that you can focus on preparing yourself for success.

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Samantha Acuna is a writer based in San Francisco, CA. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, and Yahoo Small Business.