What Should I Wear to Court?

Posted on Friday, October 18th, 2019 at 1:09 pm    

Whether you’re a witness, a party to a personal injury lawsuit, or facing criminal charges, going to court can be a big deal. You’ll want to make sure that you make a great first impression. Studies suggest that we form a first impression about someone within the first 7 seconds of meeting them.

What details do you notice about someone in such a short period? Among other things, you probably (consciously or subconsciously) take a look at what they’re wearing. What you wear can say a lot about you. It can also either set you up for success or set the wrong tone.

Don’t underestimate the influence your clothes will have when you go to court in Philadelphia. There are certain dos and don’ts you should keep in mind. Here’s what you need to know.

What Not to Wear When You Go to Court

Knowing what not to wear when you have a court date is just as important as knowing what you should wear. Here’s a general rule of thumb – if you wouldn’t wear it on an office interview or to church, it’s probably not appropriate for court.

Clothing to avoid:

  • Shorts
  • Jeans
  • Tank tops, muscle shirts, or shirts without sleeves
  • T-shirts, especially if they have obscene images or language
  • Sports jerseys or uniforms
  • Hoodies
  • Sundresses
  • Crop tops
  • Sweatpants or sweatshirts, and
  • Yoga pants or exercise clothes.

Don’t wear clothes that are too big, too small, or overtly sexual. Plain is best, so avoid large logos, advertisements, and graphics.

Shoes to avoid:

  • Sneakers
  • Sandals
  • Slippers
  • Flip-flops, and
  • Open-toed shoes.

Try to avoid footwear that’s sexy or rugged. Modest and conservative shoes are best. Make sure that they’re clean.

Accessories to avoid:

  • Sunglasses
  • Chains
  • Spikes
  • Hats, and
  • Loud jewelry.

When it comes to accessories, less is more. Avoid wearing a lot of jewelry. Stick to a handsome wristwatch or pair a simple necklace with modest earrings. Religious head coverings are acceptable.

If you have tattoos, you might want to consider covering them. The same goes for face piercings – you might want to remove them or cover them up for the time being.

What You Should Ideally Wear to Court

Do you own a suit? That’s probably your best option. You can also consider pairing dress pants or slacks with a blouse or collared buttondown shirt. Women can also opt to wear a conservative (think at least knee-length) skirt or dress.

When it comes to footwear, pick your best pair of dress shoes. If that’s not an option for you, the cleanest, plainest pair of shoes you have should do the trick.

If you don’t own a suit, dress clothes, or conservative footwear, you might want to really think about making an investment in some. If that’s just not in the cards, you can also reach out to friends or family members who might be able to help you out. It’s really best to avoid things like jeans and sneakers. In fact, some courts might not even let you in if you’re underdressed.

Philadelphia Court Rules & Your Attire

You probably know that courts have rules. You might not realize that some of those rules focus on what can (and more importantly, cannot) be worn to court. Different courts have different rules. Here’s what some courts in Philadelphia have to say about their dress code.

United States District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania

The Eastern District of Pennsylvania says that “appropriate dress code, such as business casual attire, is required.” The court’s website explicitly states that “tank tops, sweat pants and flip flops” don’t meet that standard.

Philadelphia County Courts

Philadelphia’s county courts don’t have a strict dress code. However, if you’re called for jury duty, you’re expected to wear something that’s “in keeping with the dignity of court proceedings.” In other words, wear something that shows you understand the importance of what’s going and what’s at stake in the courtroom. If you’re showing up as a witness, defendant, or party to lawsuit, it’s particularly important to keep that in mind.

Bucks County Courts

Bucks County is a stone’s throw from Philly. If you have to go to court there, you better check out the rules ahead of time. Bucks County has a strict dress code. The rules suggest that men wear a collared shirt. Women should wear a dress or a shirt with an appropriate skirt or pants. However, unlike many other courts, jeans are acceptable in Bucks County.

Hygiene Matters When You Go to Court

Take a shower. Brush your teeth. Shave. Comb or brush your hair. Make sure your clothes are clean and wrinkle-free. Hygiene goes hand in hand with attire. The fact that you took the time to get ready by cleaning up will speak volumes.

The things you do matter. The clothes you wear matter. You want everyone in that courtroom to know that you’re taking things seriously. One simple way to convey that is by taking the time to prepare an appropriate outfit.

 

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Philadelphia, PA 19109
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