What Should I Wear to Court?

When you go on a job interview, you probably dress to impress, right? Why? Because you want to make a great first impression. You want the employer to think highly of you, respect you, and like you. You want to leave that interview with confidence that you’ll land the job. After all, that’s what you went there to do.

If you have to go to court – for whatever reason – approach it like you’re going on an interview. Choose clothes that can help you impress the judge or jury and get them on your side. Dress in a way that will help you achieve whatever it is you want or need to accomplish by going to court. 

Here are some tips to help you get ready for your big day in the courtroom.

Remember That You’re Making a First Impression

First impressions are a huge deal. In fact, studies suggest that we make snap judgments about people within seven seconds. Those first impressions often form the foundation for how we view and interact with others. They’re difficult to change. 

What’s one of the first things you notice about someone when you first meet them? Clothing. You notice what they’re wearing. When you show up for court, whether you’re summoned by a judge or there on your own accord, you want to wear clothes that will set you up for success.

You want to choose clothes that will leave the judge, jury, and anyone else in the courtroom with the impression that you’re confident and taking the matter at hand seriously. Something as simple as your choice of clothes can make a huge difference moving forward.

Choosing Your Outfit For Court

You might stand in front of your closet on the morning of your court date and stare at your wardrobe. Can I wear jeans to court? What about shorts? Will my lucky t-shirt be okay, or do I need a button-down?

Here are some basic rules to keep in mind.


Do your best not to wear:

  • Jeans
  • T-shirts
  • Shirts without sleeves (muscle shirts)
  • Sweatpants, sweatshirts, yoga pants, or exercise clothes
  • Crop tops
  • Sundresses
  • Hats
  • Shorts
  • Any item of clothing with explicit photos, images, or language, or
  • Sports jerseys or shirts.

Avoid clothes that are too big, too loose, too small, or too tight. You’re not going on a date, so don’t wear clothes that are revealing or overtly sexual.


The shoes you pick out in the morning matter. Don’t wear sneakers and avoid flip flops or sandals. Choose a conservative pair of shoes that you’d wear to the office or with a suit. 


Don’t wear too many accessories. Keep it simple. Men might want to stick with a watch and nothing else. For women, perhaps a neckless and small earings, at most. Don’t wear a lot of jewelry that will make a lot of noise or draw a lot of attention. Keep your sunglasses in the car or leave them at home if you’re getting to court on the bus or taking the Subway.

So, What Should I Wear?

Choose an outfit that’s conservative and professional. If you have a suit, that’s a great option. Alternatively, dress pants and a button-down or blouse can set you up for success. Take a shower and make sure that your hygiene is in good order. 

Not everyone owns a suit or dress clothes. If you can afford to, you might want to consider purchasing an outfit as an investment. If not, choose the best option in your wardrobe – even if that means a pair of nice, sensible slacks and a clean shirt. Just remember to choose an outfit that lets others know you’re not messing around. 

Many courts are cracking down on their dress code. Be sure to check your court’s rules to see what kind of attire is and is not allowed.

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