Ah, jury duty! No citizen hates doing their civic duty more than doing jury duty. In all seriousness though, jury duty is an important yet underappreciated role that is necessary for a functioning society. So as much as you dislike the idea of having to sit in a courthouse for 7 hours, it’s something we all have to do at one point or another!
If you have obligatory jury duty coming up, then it is important that you dress appropriately. After all, you will be in a courthouse; a building that is for all intents and purposes sacred under the law. You can’t rightly step foot in the building wearing gym shorts and flip-flops, now could you? And before you say it; no, you cannot dress poorly and get dismissed from duty entirely. The court will likely just ask you to change and require you to come at another date. To avoid embarrassment and inconvenience, you should know what to wear to court.
So we put together this comprehensive guide on how you should dress for jury duty. It is important to treat the role with respect and your attire should match that sentiment. Besides, the more seriously you take jury duty, the faster it will be over and you can put it behind you.
What is the General Dress Code?
Most courthouses and districts in the US do not have an explicit dress code policy; that is, there is no explicit written document specifying what you can and cannot wear. In fact, the only actual official juror dress code we could find was from the Central District of California.
Even though there are no official dress codes in general, there are some general rules of things that are NOT allowed:
- Tank tops
- Cropped tops
- Shorts (khaki or otherwise)
- Clothing with obscenities
- Clothing with graphic imagery
- Open-toed shoes
- Athletic clothing or leggings
As you can see, the general standards rule out any clothing that is too casual or that does not cover the legs and feet. T-shirts are an interesting edge case as some T-shirts might be formal enough to meet standards while others may not. When getting dressed, a good rule of thumb to adhere to is that you shouldn’t wear anything that you would feel uncomfortable wearing to your mom’s birthday party.
Do I Need a Suit and Tie?
A lot of people think that they need to dress in a suit and tie. While there is nothing stopping you from doing so, you do not usually have to wear a suit and tie for jury duty. That level of dress is usually overkill. In most cases, a nice pair of slacks and various shirt and tie combinations will do just fine. However, if you do want to wear a suit and tie to jury duty, then there is nothing stopping you.
When it comes to pants, your best bet is to stick with a slim-fit dress pants style. A slim fit will look good on almost anyone, no matter their body type, and is easy to match with. Ideally, the pants should lay flat when you sit down and not have too many wrinkles in them. On the legs, your pants should pass the one-inch test meaning you should be able to stretch the fabric around leg holes at least one inch. If you have a bigger build below the waist, then we recommend regular or straight-leg pants. However, we highly recommend avoiding pleats. Pleated pants are perfectly formal but they have a boxy sort of fit that does not fit the contours of the legs very well.
So what about jeans? In the past, jeans were a non-starter in the courtroom, but changing fashion can allow for jeans in a courtroom and jury setting. If you do decide to wear jeans, make sure that they do not have rips and holes in them and that they have a straight leg or slim fit. We also recommend wearing darker-colored jeans as those often look more formal.
One final note on pants: make sure that whatever you get is comfortable to sit in. You will be sitting down for the majority of jury duty and you can be at the courthouse for the entire day. It would be pretty bad if your pants were too tight to sit comfortably in.
When it comes to shirts, a colored shirt will be your best bet. Colored shirts like a polo or a button-up are the perfect mix of casual and formal for jury duty. In general, avoid t-shirts. If you do decide to wear a t-shirt, avoid any language on the shirt and bold color patterns. A solid, neutral-colored t-shirt will work the best. That means no mixtures of loud colors and no crazy design features. We suggest that you check out our selection of some of the best men's Oxford shirts.
When choosing a shirt, make sure that the color matches your pants. Darker colors go with darker colors and lighter colors with light. With collared shirts and button-ups, solid colors are usually a better idea than patterns. If you do decide to go with a patterned shirt, make sure the pattern is understated and not distracting. Small strips or a small design are fine. Try to avoid any clothing that has large and noticeable brand logos too.
No matter what kind of shirt you get, make sure that it is ironed and pressed. You do not want to show up to jury duty with a wrinkled shirt as that will make you look unkempt. If you do not own a clothes iron and an ironing board, then you use the shower steam method. Hang your shirt on the back of the bathroom door and turn hot water in the shower or tub on. Close the door and let steam build-up for a few minutes. The stem will smooth out your shirt and get rid of the major wrinkles. This method is not as effective as using an actual clothing iron but it can be useful in a pinch or if you are traveling and don’t have your clothes iron handy.
The other main issue is to tuck or not to tuck, Personally, we like the neat processional look of a tucked-in button-up, but some business casual shirts are explicitly designed to be worn untucked. You have some leeway on this option. If you do decide to go untucked, make sure that the ends of the shirt are properly ironed and not wrinkled.
The main thing to keep in mind with shoes is no open-toe shoes. That means no sandals, no flip-flops, and (God forbid) no Crocs. You do not need an ultra-fancy pair of dress shoes but a pair of casual loafers would be ideal. Avoid sneakers and athletic shoes and stay away from bright colors. They might be super comfortable but your Asics or Nike running shoes probably won’t go over too well in the courtroom.
A couple of brands of shoes that might be worth checking out include Doc Martens, Sperrys, Lobb, Trickers, Rockport, and Kenneth Cole. All of these brands have a wide selection of more casual and dress shoes that would work great for jury duty. It is usually best to stick to dark, neutral colors for shoes such as browns, blacks, and navy blues.
And of course, whatever shoe you get needs to be comfortable as you will be wearing them around all day. It should also go without saying that if you require special shoes due to a condition like flat feet or plantar fasciitis, then you can wear those.
The only real accessory you should worry about is your belt. Your belt should be a dark neutral color and not clash with your pants. Belts should not have large, flashy buckles and should sit comfortably around the hips. Make sure that the belt buckle is centered over the fly of your pants and make sure that you do not skip any belt loops when putting it on (trust us, it happens sometimes!).
Other than that, you should not go too hard on accessories. You should stay away from large and flashy jewelry but a small ring or bracelet will be fine. If you have earrings, then it is recommended that men wear smaller studs instead of hoops or plugs. Also, if you have it, a nice watch is a good way to complete the look.
One last thing: no hats. Hats are not allowed in the courtroom (except for religious reasons) and you will be asked to remove any hat you are wearing.
Tips for Dressing for Jury Duty
- Wear layers. Courthouses tend to be cold so it will be good if you have an extra jacket in case things get cold.
- Try to stay away from strong perfumes or body sprays. You will be interacting with many people and some people may be sensitive to very strong smells and odors.
- Minimize eye-catching pieces of clothing. This includes jewelry, shirts with slogans or loud patterns on them, and flash accessories like rings or bracelets.
- Dress respectfully, but still dress comfortably. You will likely be at jury duty for over 8 hours so you want to wear something that breathes.
- Business casual attire is a good standard to abide by. This means pants or slacks and a collared shirt, tucked in with a belt.
- Shoes need to be closed-toe but they should also be comfortable. You will be walking around in them all day, after all.
- In general, avoid bright colors and accents, even if they are in formal clothing. Conservative dress also has to do with the colors you wear, not just the style of clothing that you wear.
- You should not try to intentionally dress down to get out of jury duty. Odds are you might be asked to change and come back at a later date. So you may just end up wasting your time if you try to dress down.
- As far as hair and beards go, you can have long hair and a big beard, just make sure that it is neat and trimmed. You do not want to show up to jury selection looking like you just got back from a month-long camping trip.
At the end of the day, dress conservatively in business casual attire and you will be fine. Jury duty is annoying sure, but if you dress smartly and comfortably then it will go by much quicker.