It is a scary question you are probably asking yourself as your court date draws near, and knowing the answer to how to dress for court is important for making a great first impression in the courtroom, regardless of your role in the room, as either the defendant, a witness, or a member of the jury.
Here at Minick Law, we hear this question all the time from folks who are not in the courtroom every day and, in order to help our clients and others in need, we put together this post to tell you exactly how to dress for court (see our blog What Should I Wear to Court).
What Should I Wear To Court?
Dress conservatively (see our blog What Color To Wear To Court), in what you might wear to church or to a more formal event (funeral, fancy dinner, and the like). That is the look you need to be going for. Being groomed and showered, and having nice clothing on is an immediate showing to the judge that you take this proceeding seriously and you are showing him or her respect.
Formal dress is not required in the courtroom but it is polite to be neat and professional. If you had to come to court directly from work (see our blog Can You Wear Jeans to Court), and you did not have time to dress as well as you would have liked, it would be worth mentioning that to the judge. He or she will definitely understand.
“I have never, in my experience,” says James Minick, “seen anybody get yelled at by a judge because they were overdressed for court. Make sure that your clothing is respectful, make sure your clothing is modest, make sure that your clothing is indicating to the judge again that you take the court process seriously.”
Why Should I Dress Well in Court?
The reason dressing well in court is important is that doing so is an immediate sign of respect to the judge. If you come into court in your pajamas, you are basically telling the court that you do not take this proceeding seriously at all, that you are not really concerned with what could happen to you in the court process, and additionally, you are showing disrespect to the judge.
Dressing well is even more important if you are coming in asking for any sort of financial or monetary relief, or if you are coming into court because of a speeding ticket or something on the criminal end of things. If you are asking favors of the court in any way, you do not want them to think you are not taking the process seriously, and you want to get off on the right foot with the court.
Lawyers are in court all the time. It is likely that you will not have spent nearly as much time in a courtroom, so take it from the lawyers. Learning appropriate courtroom behavior or etiquette will help you to fit in and feel more comfortable. Everything from how you dress to how you talk can impact your case, either positively or negatively.
Always try to appear neat and clean. The courtroom is a serious place and your appearance should reflect the importance of the occasion and be appropriately conservative dress for court. The easiest way to make sure you do that is to learn how to dress for court, which immediately shows the court respect. First impressions are everything.
This article will be the first in a series about proper courtroom etiquette. Learning how to dress for court is a great first step in that direction (see our infographic for tips on how to dress for court).
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