What to Wear to Court

man in dress shirt for what to wear to court

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 or conference attire is 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 in a court system. 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 appearance. Here is our guide on dressing appropriately for court.

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—though a T-shirt is still not advised as part of courtroom etiquette. The recipe usually just calls for a nice blouse, with a professional-looking blazer on top and dress pants, or opt for a blouse and pencil skirt—no short skirts.

Your colors should remain neutral and professional. The colors I recommend for both women and men are: white, black, blue, and gray or dark 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. Just make sure they are clean and pressed slacks!

business women

Avoid wearing clothing that is too revealing or tight and also clothing that is too baggy. Bright colors and clothing that is too provocative or flashy like short skirts 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 dress appropriately for going to a court hearing.

What to Wear to Court as a Male

men white shirt for courtroom

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 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. Browse more men's collared shirts from Nimble Made.

White dress shirts are everywhere, so standing out is a little bit difficult. It is made of thicker material than our popular white 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 to a court appearance.

If you're interviewing for a job in the courtroom, here are guides on whether or not you need a tie and different ways to tie a tie.

We also like the Striped Blue Shirt, aka "The Grand Canal," and recommend this to wear to court. 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.

mens tie for courtroom

Ties have many different types of styles. 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. This is the perfect way to dress properly with ease.

For a tie that matches our striped blue long-sleeved 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 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 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

mens tie clip accessories

If you did not know these existed, then yes, tie clips are definitely just what you need to help bring more character into your wardrobe, especially for your next court date. 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 and is 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

For a court appearance, 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:

  1. Dress conservatively: Opt for conservative dress and modest attire. This means avoiding flashy or revealing clothing and bright colors. 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 to wear to court.
  2. Wear formal clothing: Dress professionally 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. Here is how a suit should fit.
    Gray suit
  3. Avoid casual wear: Steer clear of casual clothing such as jeans, short skirts, t-shirts, sneakers, baseball caps, or flip flops or other open-toe shoes. To wear jeans and similar casual items may be seen as disrespectful or unprofessional for a courtroom appearance.
  4. 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.
    Dress shoes
  5. 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.
  6. 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 or even for a traffic ticket, you may have some flexibility but still aim for a professional appearance.
  7. 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 for your court date, it's always a good idea to consult with your attorney or check the court's dress code policy in advance.

What to Wear to Court for Jurors

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 dress codes. I recommend that you still conduct yourself professionally, but dress comfortably, you may be there a while.

Black dress shirt

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. 

What to Wear to Court Bottom Line

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 or business casual dress code (no T-shirts or bare legs), but you do not need to stick with the conventional white and black suit. After all, impressions matter.

When deciding what to wear to court, it is best to avoid wearing casual attire like jeans, t-shirts, shorts, sweatpants, or sneakers. It may also not be suitable to wear hats, such as baseball caps. 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, even if just for a traffic ticket, demonstrating your seriousness and understanding of the court proceedings.

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.

White dress shirt


Frequently asked questions about what to wear to court

What is the best outfit to wear to court?

A conservative and professional outfit is best for court appearances. Opt for a well-fitted suit or dress in neutral colors like black, navy, or gray, paired with closed-toe shoes and minimal accessories to convey respect and seriousness to the proceedings.

Is it OK to wear jeans to court?

Jeans are generally considered too casual for court appearances and may not be appropriate attire. It is best to avoid wearing jeans to court, as they are typically seen as too informal and can give the impression of not taking the proceedings seriously. 

What do people wear when they go to court?

For both men and women attending court, it is advisable to wear formal and conservative attire to demonstrate respect and professionalism. Men should opt for a well-fitted suit, dress shirts, 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.

Is it appropriate to wear black to court?

Yes, 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.

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