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by William Whitworth

What should I wear to court?

Court house


What should I wear to court is a great question and we are going to provide you with some guidelines and suggestions.  First, I believe it absolutely matters what you wear to court. Think about it. You dress up for a date, a job interview, business events or even a Christmas party. Why wouldn’t you dress up for a court hearing?  After all, you are and will be essentially having to give a first impression (which can take place within the first 7-10 seconds of meeting a person) to a judge who will be making a decision about your life and outcome. You need to take this occasion seriously and how well or poorly you dress speaks volumes about you whether you realize it or not. So, if you’re going to make a good first impression, you might as well make a great one! It also shows a sincere sign of respect to the court too. No, it won’t ultimately decide your case, however, it can and will most likely play one of the many factors in the judge’s decision.

What not to wear to court

What not to wear to court


It’s amazing that I even have to address this particular issue, but a lot of courts have even had to issue guidelines and rules on what NOT to wear to court.  Most courtrooms throughout the United States have made it mandatory that you don’t wear certain items. One would think this is common sense, however, this has not always been the case, hence guidelines were placed.  For example, in Virginia the rules may differ from other states, making it essential to know your specific state’s guidelines. For a comprehensive list refer to these state-specific requirements for state courtroom dress guidelines Generally speaking, It’s a good rule of thumb to not wear any of the items below.

  • Shorts

  • Tank tops

  • Hats

  • Flip flops

  • Clothing that exposes your underwear

  • Ripped or torn jeans

  • Baggy pants that fall below your hips

  • Clothing with an emblem or wording that promotes illegal or inappropriate activity

  • Clothing that depicts or promotes violence, sex acts, illegal drug use or profanity

Keep it conservative and respectful

an example of what to wear to court

This should really go without saying. Whether you are at court for a custody hearing or criminal case, you want to show the court respect. For men, this means at least a suit, dress shoes, and a tie preferably; however, if you do not own a suit wear your “Sunday best”. You want to look and dress your best. No, we’re not saying wear a tuxedo, but being and looking appropriately dressed is advised and recommended by most attorneys. If for some reason you will be coming from work that day and unable to dress appropriately, then we highly recommend contacting and consulting with your attorney to let them know. Ladies, you can find out what one female attorney suggested here. But for us guys, I can’t express the importance of showing respect and looking your best for court.



In summary, you want to dress and act appropriately in the courtroom. Your words matter, your dress matters, the facts matter, heck, everything matters! You’re in a courtroom before a judge that is going to rule on a matter that is going to affect your life. You want to at least look your best. Being in a courtroom can be stressful enough as it is and the odds may already be stacked against you going in. The last thing you want to do is go in there dressed inappropriately.

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