Written by Tanya Zhang
Being court summoned already sounds like a stressful position to be in and whether you are the defendant or being prosecuted, maintaining a professional look will help you look more credible and confident. You want to create a great first impression and the image you convey with your clothing can drastically make a difference. People automatically judge others by their appearance, even if they are unconscious of it so generally wearing at least business casual always safe.
We have a separate article addressing dress code for lawyers so you can have an idea of what to wear to court. The attire is not exactly the same as the pressure is not on to be a complete professional, but this should give you a sense of what you should expect others to wear. The bottom line is if you want people to take you seriously, then aim to put your best foot forward when deciding what to wear to a court hearing.
What to Wear to Court for Women
Women are a bit more flexible in their clothing and there is not an exact dress code to follow. The recipe usually just calls for a nice blouse, with a blazer on top and dress pants, or opt for a blouse and pencil skirt.
Your colors should remain neutral and professional. The colors I recommend for both women and men are: white, black, blue, and gray as they are easy to mix and match. Button up shirts can also be expected with a blazer above it and dress pants.
A knee length skirt works well with a blouse and blazer combination. Accessorize with simple and elegant earrings if needed and neat closed toe shoes, not flip flops, to tie in the whole look. If you do not like wearing skirts, wear slacks or trousers as an excellent substitute.
Avoid wearing clothing that is too revealing or tight and also clothing that is too baggy. Clothing that is too provocative or flashy can come off the wrong way. On the other hand, clothing that is too baggy can look a bit sloppy or not thought out.
Wear makeup that enhances natural features and any accessories that accomplishes the same task of enhancing and not distracting. These tips on what to wear to court for women will help you find the most appropriate attire for going to court.
What to Wear to Court as a Male
There is a myth that men do not have many accessories to play with when “dressing up,” but that is certainly not true. There are many ways to wear the same article of clothing in different ways to give it a new ambiance. In some ways, it is easier to find an outfit because you always want to wear a button up shirt, but finding the right fit can be tricky.
The trend is to wear slim-fit dress shirts, blazers or a sports coat that compliment your silhouette, and fitting pants. You do not want anything too loose, nor too tight for both your upper body and lower body clothing. Our White Collar Speckled Dress Shirt or otherwise known as “The Blue Skies” is the right balance of character and professionalism and compliments the body type of slimmer men. It is made of 100 percent cotton so it is breathable in the case that you feel nervous just being in court.
White dress shirts are everywhere, so standing out is a little bit difficult. It is made of thicker material than our popular white dress button up shirt, “The Crescent,” so feel rest assured that your upper body is not revealed, unlike some cheaper and transparent white dress shirts. The thickness makes it more opaque. The inside of the collar also has a slight pattern inside for a nice pop of texture inside. You can opt to wear this with or without a tie, but we recommend a tie in the courtroom.
If you're interviewing for a job in the courtroom, here's a guide on whether or not you need a tie.
We also like the Striped Blue Dress Shirt, aka "The Grand Canal," and recommend it for your court date. The stripes are subtle, yet still have the potential to create the illusion of making you look taller. It's a great confidence booster for those who want to stand tall and appeal to the courtroom. Since it is a solid and subtle blue, this shirt can be matched with a variety of ties. I usually like white and black for a professional color scheme, but blue can be just as versatile as white. You can wear it with khaki chino pants or black dress pants and top it off with a blazer on top.
Ties are also like dress shirts where there are so many different types of style you can wear them even though it is just a simple tie. Certain knots are better for specific occasions, and in the courtroom, you may want to try the full Windsor knot. It is a common knot that people wear to interviews or business professional events. That is the case here as you are there to do business and look credible. If you want to be safe, a solid tie is recommended like our classic solid black tie. It is perfect for a white dress shirt and is a classic display of professionalism.
For a tie that matches our striped blue dress shirt, try something like our maroon plaid tie. This should add another layer of professionalism to the mix. Again, keep the Windsor knot and add a black blazer on top.
If possible, get a blazer that is tapered in the middle so it shows the definition in your body. Always tuck the collar of the dress shirt underneath the blazer and keep your tie underneath the blazer if you choose to button it up.
As for the pants, we have said it many times for the shirts and we give the same advice for dress pants. Slim fit is your safest option for any type of built man. Short and tall men can benefit from these fitted pants, but you want to make sure they are not too tight. If there are wrinkles when you sit down, then they probably fit too tight somewhere. It should look tapered around the leg, but loose enough to pass the one-inch test where you pull the fabric of the pants and it stretches an inch.
If you have a bigger built below the waist, then you may want to try regular or straight fit pants. They are roomier around the crotch area and do not taper in as much at the bottom. Shorter men will look shorter the baggier the pants, so aim for a slim fit. As for the type of pants, go for dress pants or black chinos that look like dress pants.
A dress shirt and tie is great, but why stop there. Your look does not have to be complete once you throw on a suit. You can add a bit more pizazz to be sure to impress the courtroom. A watch or bracelet is a nice touch, but if you aren't used to accessorizing, then start off with something more subtle. Make sure not to wear clothing that is too tight or too loose, as this can give off the wrong impression.
Other Men's Accessories for Court Attire
If you did not know these existed, then yes, tie clips are definitely a thing that can help bring more character into your wardrobe. Though I usually find them during fancier occasions or in business meetings, the courtroom is another setting where I deem them appropriate. If you have never worn one and are not feeling adventurous yet, then our matte tie clip is one tie clip you may be interested in. It works with any outfit combination or more specifically, any tie. It is matte, so it does not exactly pop out, but it is meant to complement your existing outfit.
If you want some more fun in your clip, try the black and gold tie clip. The sheen of the gold compliments the black background and adds a pop of color to your clothing. I see this clip being used on a white dress shirt with a black tie, a classic combination. This clip brings life to the normal black and white colors and shows your confidence in wearing such an accessory.
Tips on What to Wear for a Court Hearing
When attending a court hearing, it's important to dress appropriately and professionally to show respect for the court and the legal process. Here are some fool-proof tips on what to wear to court:
- Dress conservatively: Opt for conservative and modest attire. This means avoiding flashy or revealing clothing. Choose neutral colors like black, gray, navy blue, or brown. Think about what to wear to a conference or even what to wear to a wake and replicate that for court.
- Wear formal clothing: Dress as if you were attending a job interview or a formal event. Men should wear a suit or dress pants with a button-down shirt and a tie. Women can wear a suit, dress pants or a skirt with a blouse, or a conservative dress.
- Avoid casual wear: Steer clear of casual clothing such as jeans, short skirts, t-shirts, sneakers, or flip flops. These items may be seen as disrespectful or unprofessional in a courtroom setting.
- Pay attention to grooming: Ensure that your appearance is tidy and well-groomed. This includes clean and polished dress shoes, neatly styled facial hair, and minimal jewelry. Avoid excessive makeup or strong fragrances.
- Cover tattoos and piercings: If you have visible tattoos or body piercings, try to cover or minimize them. Remove any facial piercings and cover tattoos with clothing or makeup, if possible. The goal is to present a professional and respectful image.
- Dress for the occasion: Consider the type of court hearing and dress accordingly. For more formal proceedings, such as trials or appeals, it's essential to dress even more conservatively. For less formal proceedings, such as administrative hearings, you may have some flexibility but still aim for a professional appearance.
- Dress comfortably: While it's important to dress professionally, also prioritize comfort. Court hearings can be lengthy, and you'll want to be able to sit and move comfortably without distraction.
Remember that these tips are general guidelines and may vary depending on the specific jurisdiction and court rules. If you have any doubts about what is appropriate to wear, it's always a good idea to consult with your attorney or check the court's dress code policy in advance.
Though we usually think of the people going on trial when needing to dress up, as a possible juror, you still wield a heavy task of listening to the case and help determine the outcome. There can also be some stress on your shoulders, but knowing how to dress should not be one of them.
You have a bit more leeway than both the lawyers and the people on trial when it comes to your dress code. I recommend that you still conduct yourself professionally, but dress comfortably, you may be there a while.
For women, a blouse with a blazer or cardigan on top, some dress pants, and professional dress shoes should do the trick. For men, button-down or button up shirts and pants such as chinos or dress pants will work. Always leave the flip flops or sandals at home. Here is a full guide on what to wear to jury duty as a juror. If it is something you would wear for a luncheon or an educational conference, then it should still be adequate enough for a seat as a juror.
Court day is a big day and not exactly everyone's cup of tea. Make a good first impression and present yourself with confidence whether you are facing the judge or listening to the case as a civilian. You should ultimately go for a business formal look, but you do not need to stick with the conventional white and black suit.
Wear safe colors, fitted clothing, and some accessories here and there to stand out from the crowd. Wear clothes that are comfortable and be confident.
Frequently asked questions about what to wear to court
Are jeans OK to wear to court?
Jeans are generally considered too casual for a court hearing and may not be appropriate attire. It is best to avoid wearing jeans to a court hearing, as they are typically seen as too informal and can give the impression of not taking the proceedings seriously.
What outfit should I wear to court?
For both men and women attending a court hearing, it is advisable to wear formal and conservative attire to demonstrate respect and professionalism. Men should opt for a well-fitted suit, dress shirt, conservative tie, polished dress shoes, and dark-colored socks. Women can choose a suit, dress pants with a conservative blouse or top, closed-toe shoes with a low or moderate heel, and minimal accessories. It's crucial to avoid casual clothing, flashy patterns, revealing outfits, and excessive jewelry. Additionally, checking the specific dress code requirements of the court is recommended.
What not to wear to court?
When attending a court hearing, it is best to avoid wearing casual attire like jeans, t-shirts, shorts, sweatpants, or sneakers. Also, steer clear of revealing or provocative clothing, flashy accessories, excessive jewelry, and strong fragrances. It is important to dress in a professional and respectful manner, demonstrating your seriousness and understanding of the court proceedings.
What is the best color to wear to court?
When choosing a color to wear to court, it is best to opt for neutral and conservative colors. Colors such as black, navy blue, gray, and brown are generally considered appropriate for court hearings. These colors convey a sense of professionalism, respect, and seriousness.