It is a well-accepted notion that in business one should dress for success. The concept applies equally to courtroom attire, regardless of whether you are involved in a civil or criminal case.
Like an interview for a job or an important business meeting, when you are in court you are there to be judged. First impressions are lasting and communicate how serious you are about your business before the court.
Imagine if you were a judge and two people came before you. One is wearing a coat and tie, and the other is wearing flip flops and a t-shirt. While you are supposed to only weigh evidence, human nature sways your opinion about who is more serious, and who is more respectful of the court and its proceedings.
How you dress can divert attention from your legal case and onto your inappropriate appearance – something that is avoidable and simply a mistake.
For Men: Judges are keen observers of what goes on in their courtrooms. Because of their positions, they expect to command respect from litigants who appear before them.
Men should wear a suit or sports coat, dress shirt and tie. Hygiene matters, too. Men should be cleanly shaved, wear an appropriate amount of cologne and appear comfortable in their attire. If a man wears a hat to court, he should take it off upon entering the building. Appearing clean cut sends a message of honesty and seriousness.
For Women: Women should wear a suit, pants suit, or conservative dress. Makeup and jewelry should be understated and not dominate their appearance. If a woman has visible tattoos, they should be concealed with makeup or clothing.
No one should enter a court room chewing gum, slurping a drink through a straw, or being obviously distracted by some personal matter. Cell phones should be turned off and tucked away until after your court appearance. Responding to a text message or answering a call screams to the judge that your friends are more important than the matter before you in court.
These simple rules may seem obvious, but they will enhance a person’s chances for success in the courtroom and should be followed.
Remember, you are in court to be judged! Don’t sway the scales against yourself by making foolish decisions about your appearance.