Clients often wonder what they should wear to court. I usually tell them that “business casual” is acceptable, but jackets and ties are never out-of-place. On more than a few occasions an in-person litigant has been so well dressed that the judge assumes he/she is a lawyer. Looking around at certain lawyers’ attire, I am not sure that is a compliment! My husband, who is a retired police officer, is often asked if he is a lawyer.
So, we know what to wear to court, let’s talk about what not to wear…
Judges in Kent County, Delaware have instituted a formal dress code after one woman appeared in court in her pajamas. (Didn’t Michael Jackson do the same thing during his trial? Yes, but his was designer apparel!).
The list of banned clothing in Kent County includes saggy pants, bare feet, curlers, gang clothes, exposed undergarments, skirts more than four inches above the knee, muscle shirts, tank tops, halters and bare midriffs.
USA Today cites other examples of court attire judged to be inappropriate:
1. A woman from Detroit who wore a rumpled sweat suit that read “Hot Stuff” on her derriere;
2. A woman from Bakersfield who came to court with rubber flip-flops;
3. A judge in Texas bans people with excessive body piercings and tattoos that are not covered;
4. A man in Ohio was threatened with jail time for wearing a t-shirt with the horror character Chucky on it and the words “Say Goodbye to the Killer”.
As Mark Twain said “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence”.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang