What Should I Wear to Court?
Going to court is a very serious matter. In fact, the outcome of a hearing or trial – whether it’s a personal injury lawsuit or criminal case – can have a huge impact on you and your family. For that reason, it’s important that you make a positive first impression. The clothing you select is a great way for you to show the court and its officers that you respect the process.
Generally speaking, dressing conservatively and following the basic rules of court demonstrates to a judge that you are taking the matter seriously. If you aren’t sure whether or not your attire is appropriate, check with your attorney.
Dress Code for the Courtroom
Courts have strict rules regarding how you should act when in front of a judge. It’s always best to review these procedures before your court date. Often these rules will have guidelines for what is considered acceptable clothing to wear to court.
In Georgia, anyone that appears before a judge must “dress appropriately.” Keep in mind that judicial officers have broad discretion to determine whether your attire meets this standard. As a general matter, judges are looking to control the decorum in the courtroom and may look unfavorably upon clothing that is too distracting.
If you are not dressed appropriately, a judge may ask you to leave the courtroom and return at a later date. This can delay the court proceedings and is not a good way to start your relationship with the judge.
What Not to Wear
Now, for your convenience, courts in Georgia have created a list of certain types of dress that are not deemed appropriate for court, including:
- Head coverings or hats, with an exception for coverings worn for religious or medical purposes
- Miniskirts (anything shorter than 2 inches above the knee) or shorts
- Jeans, especially if they are ripped or torn
- Baggy pants that are sagged below the waist
- Tank tops, muscle shirts, or anything traditionally worn as undergarments
- Tube tops, halter tops, and any other top that exposes midriffs or cleavage
- T-shirts, particularly those that have images or text concerning violence, sexual acts, profanity, or illegal drugs, and
Although not specifically mentioned by the courts, other items that should be avoided include:
- Spiked high heels or stilettos
- Leggings, yoga pants, sweatpants, and other athletic gear
- Camouflage gear, and
These items might not be prohibited, but they’re certainly frowned upon.
Recommended Dress for the Courtroom
With the above guidelines in mind, it’s always best to dress conservatively. For most people, this would be the clothing that you would wear to a job interview. Note that your dress doesn’t need to be overly formal, such as wedding attire.
Also, keep in mind that your clothes should be comfortable. Hearings and trials can take a long time and you may be at the courthouse for several hours. Try to wear clothing that fits you and that is not too tight or too loose. If you have recently gained or lost weight, you might consider purchasing new clothes if that is an option.
Suggestions For Men
For men, conservative attire typically means a suit with a tie. You may also wear a sport coat or a long-sleeve button-down shirt with slacks. Make sure that your shirt is tucked in and that you wear a belt and dress shoes. However, clean black sneakers are an acceptable substitute if you don’t own dress shoes.
Suggestions For Women
For women, your best bet is a business suit or dress. You may also consider slacks with a conservative top that covers your shoulders and does not have plunging necklines. Your dress shoes should be closed-toe flats or low heels. Try to keep makeup to a minimum and wear minimal to no jewelry.
For all individuals going to court, it’s best to remove any piercings other than earrings. Also, cover any visible tattoos.
Additional Grooming Tips
In addition to selecting a good outfit for court, keep in mind a few basic grooming tips. Take a shower and wash and comb your hair. You may also consider getting a haircut. If you dye your hair, try to avoid any unnatural hair dye colors.
Clean and trim your fingernails and keep all nail polish to neutral colors. If you use cologne or perfume, keep these fragrances to a minimum or avoid wearing them at all.
You should clean and iron your clothes and make sure that they are free from odors such as tobacco, marijuana, and alcohol. Use deodorant, and consider bringing a handkerchief if you know you are likely to sweat. Again, if you have any questions regarding clothing or grooming, speak with your attorney.