The Harrison
Law Group, P.C.

What Should I Wear to Court?

January 27, 2022

If you are heading to court, you may be concerned about what you should wear. Many of our clients ask us what they should wear to a court hearing. Whether you are fighting for your rights In a medical malpractice case, a slip-and-fall case, or a car accident case, it is important that you present yourself in a professional way in court. As many American business places have become more casual, many people are unsure of how that translates to court. 

Is There a Written Dress Code for Courts in New York?

Many New York courts suggest business casual as the dress code for people attending court in the state. Some courts in New York have specific dress codes and explicitly forbid certain types of clothing. It is important to discuss what you should wear to court with your attorney so you can abide by the court’s rules. 

Even if a court does not require a specific dress code, keep in mind that you want to make a good impression on the judge and/or jury in your case, and your appearance will matter. Courtrooms in New York still place meaning on etiquette and appearance. When judges and juries determine how credible you are, your appearance is one of the biggest influences. 

Judges and juries are humans, and they may form a snap judgment about you based on your appearance in court. This snap judgment will not change the facts they learn from the evidence, but it could harm your chances of winning, even subtly or indirectly. Dressing well will help the corn understand that you take the matter seriously, and so should they.

Dress Like You Have Respect for the Court

Whether you are a plaintiff, juror, witness, or defend it, it is important that you dress as if you have put thought into what you wear to court. Previously, many attorneys would tell people to wear church attire or the attire when meeting a doctor, banker, accountant, or attorney. However, these types of clothing styles have changed. Even the term “business casual” has become more relaxed. Many employers allow employees to wear jeans in “business casual” offices. 

As a result, many people wear what they would feel comfortable wearing to nearly any type of meeting. This sort of casual dress will not work in court. You should dress conservatively. Most people will need to dress more formally than they normally do for work. Other than arriving on time, one of the best ways to show respect to the judge is to wear business casual clothing.

What to Wear for Women

The goal of choosing an outfit for a courtroom is to look professional and trustworthy. Women should wear business or business casual clothing. Wearing the following types of clothing will help you make a good impression on the court:

  •  businesses wear such as dress or pantsuits
  •  Blazers or cardigans to cover bare arms
  • Solid-color blouses
  • Conservative dress shoes

Women should avoid wearing the following types of clothing in court:

  • Low-cut blouses
  • Busy or loud patterns
  • Skirts that are too short or have high slits
  • Form-fitting or tight-fitting clothing
  • Overstated accessories
  • Spiked heels

Hair needs to be neatly groomed. Long hair should be pulled away from the face, helping avoid nervous or distracting behaviors. It is also wise to leave the cologne, scented lotions, and perfume off for the day. You do not want to stand out in any way. It is also wise to avoid trying out a loud hairstyle or hair color before you go to court.

What to Wear for Men

You may be worried that you have to go out and purchase a new suit to wear to court. On the contrary, you do not have to break the bank to purchase a brand new suit when making an appearance in court. Wearing a suit and tie are the best choices, but they aren not the only choices. Men can also choose to wear business casual clothing. When making a court appearance, men should wear the following:

  • A suit
  • Slacks and a sports coat
  • A solid color or button up shirt
  • Hair in a well-groomed, neat style
  • Limited jewelry such as a modest watch and one ring

Men Appearing in court should avoid wearing:

  • Flip flops or slides
  • Sneakers
  • French cuffs and/or cufflinks
  • Short-sleeved shirts

Everyone should avoid wearing the following to court:

  • Hats of any type
  • Clothing that reveals underwear
  • Clothes that you would wear to the beach, amusement park, or another type of recreational activity
  • Workout or athleisure wear, including yoga pants
  • Work boots or tennis shoes
  • Sweatshirts
  • Jeans of any kind
  • T-shirts, tank tops, and sleeveless shirts 

Avoid Looking Disheveled

Neither women nor men should show up to court looking disheveled. you will not have another chance to make a first impression on the judge and/or jury in your case. If you have questions about what to wear to court, you should discuss your case with your attorney. What you wear may seem small or even trivial compared to the details of the case for which you are going to court. However, what you wear can have an impact on your case’s outcome. You do not have to necessarily wear a suit and tie, but you should not show up in sweatpants and flip-flops. The main goal is to show that you have tried to look presentable before the court.

About Harrison Law Group, P.C.

The Harrison Law Group, P.C. is a well-known, and respected personal injury law firm who is exclusively dedicated to handing a wide range of personal injury cases which include but are not limited to motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents, dog bites, traumatic brain injuries, serious and catastrophic injuries, soft tissue injuries, construction accidents, and many other injury cases.

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