Court appearances are formal occasions, and it is very important to dress and act appropriately, no matter where you will be appearing. From how you are dressed to how you approach the judge to how you interact with others involved with the hearing, everything matters. When appearing and comporting yourself in court, learn the proper courtesies and dress formally. Any deviation from appropriate boundaries could get you reprimanded by the judge.
When dressing for court appearances, your default should be formal and sober for both men and women. Both sexes should wear dark clothing, and the default fashion style is for men to wear suits and women to wear dressy suits or understated dresses. Bright suits and dresses should be avoided, as they run the risk of looking too casual. Even bright shirts and blouses should not be worn, as they are too informal for the court setting.
If you do not have an outfit that works, go and buy something. Even if you do not appear in court frequently, taking the effort to give the right impression can make your case more likely to succeed.
Looking Beyond the Formal Suit
Make certain all elements of your appearance communicate your respect for the court and the situation. Hair should be clean and in a sober style, although the fashion should not look informal. Avoid bright headbands and other hair styling accessories. As with clothing, simple and elegant is always the key. Make certain your nails are trimmed, and brush and floss before appearing in court. Take a shower the morning your date is scheduled so you can give a clean and relaxed impression. Keep the following tips in mind, as well:
- Accessories should be kept minimal and formal. Perhaps the most common accessory is the required tie for men. Men may choose a colored or patterned necktie, as long as the colors are not obnoxious. If you choose to wear a bowtie, stick to solid and sober colors. Make certain you know how to properly tie a tie so you maintain the appropriate appearance.
- Women should avoid wearing large quantities of makeup. What makeup is worn should be understated, designed to blend with your skin tone rather than contrast with it. Also, take care with your clothes while applying makeup. You do not want to find out you have smeared your court clothes.
- Other accessories should keep the same aesthetic as clothing. Jewelry should be simple and understated. Pieces worn by both sexes should be small. For men, the usual maximum amount of jewelry acceptable for a court appearance is a watch and a wedding ring, with perhaps one other piece. Women have a little more leeway, but should still keep the amount of jewelry minimal.
- When you appear in court, comport yourself properly, as well. Be exceedingly polite when speaking to any person in court, and especially formal when talking to the judge. Know how to address all the different individuals you are likely to speak to. Judges are always addressed as “your honor.” Be polite, and do not interrupt what anyone is saying. If you are reprimanded a misstep or mistake, make certain you apologize to the injured party and the judge. It shows respect.
Even not dressing properly can get you in trouble. Not behaving properly can be even worse. With court being so serious, not showing the proper situational awareness can possibly land someone with a contempt of court charge. Once you have been reprimanded, correct your behavior before the next time you are scheduled to appear. The judge will appreciate that you listened.