First impressions matter, especially in a courtroom. From the moment you first appear before a judge or jury, your appearance conveys an immediate message. By dressing properly for the situation, you create an image of yourself that may help your case.
“You need to dress appropriately. You will be appearing before a judge in a courthouse. Dressing neatly shows respect for the Court. Dress as if you are going to a job interview.” This advice is cited on the Fairfax County Courts website.
4 Tips for Making Your Best Appearance in Court
Not only is it polite to present a neat and professional appearance, it tells officers of the court that you take your legal matter seriously and respect their authority over your case. Here are some practical guidelines to discuss with your attorney when deciding what to wear to your court appearance:
- Dress conservatively. If you have a conservative suit, wear it. Opt for dark blue or gray, if possible. Men may also wear dress pants with a nice belt and a dress shirt with a solid-color tie. Women should wear a suit, a business-style dress or dressy slacks, or a conservative length skirt with a business-style top or blouse and a jacket or sweater.You should also steer clear of wearing loud colors or all black. Academic research shows that the color a person wears can impact the perceptions others have of him or her, and people wearing black can be perceived as aggressive.
- Dress modestly. Courtrooms are a place for traditionalism and decorum. Anything with even a little flash or sparkle is best not worn. This means avoiding anything with embellishments, words, pictures, sequins, glitter, or studs. Do not wear anything ripped, stained, low-cut, revealing, or sheer. Do cover any visible tattoos.
- Wear only “functional” jewelry. Wearing a wedding ring, watch, or medical alert piece is fine. But your attorney may discourage you from wearing excessive or expensive jewelry. It may create an image of you that jurors could perceive in a negative light. They may see flashy, designer jewelry as a symbol of wealth; and some jurors may be unable to relate to what they think is a lavish or an extravagant lifestyle. So, you risk distancing yourself from them.
- Avoid wearing items that convey a personal belief, an association, or a political stance. When dressing for court, don’t wear sports apparel or jerseys, buttons that make a political statement, fraternal organization pins or tie clips, college rings, or religious jewelry. Judges and jurors are human, and they will have their own beliefs and affiliations. You don’t want to unintentionally offend or alienate them before your case even starts.
- Dress appropriately from head to toe. In most courtrooms, you are not allowed to wear hats, tinted glasses, or sunglasses, and it’s likely you will be asked to remove them. Wear nice dress shoes in a neutral color, and avoid flip flops, sandals, or athletic shoes. Women should choose dressy flats or low heels.
Seek Legal Representation If You Are Called to Court
If you are facing criminal, DUI/DWI, or traffic charges in Northern Virginia, you’ll need expert legal representation from experienced attorneys who will help with all aspects of your case, including how to make your best appearance in court. Contact Easley Law Firm at 888-386-3898 to schedule a free consultation to take the first step in resolving the unique issues in your case and obtaining the best possible outcome.