First impressions matter. Especially when you are a defendant in court.
The easiest way to make a good impression – or at least avoid making a bad impression – is to dress appropriately for court.
When judges complain about courtroom attire, they never call inappropriate clothing “unfashionable.” They call it “disrespectful.” If they think you are being disrespectful to them, they are less likely to show you the respect you think you deserve. It might seem unfair or narrow-minded, but your outfit probably will affect the way the judge sees you and treats you.
Things You Should Never Wear to Court
Here is an incomplete list of clothing and accessories you should not wear to court:
- Pajamas: It’s true that technology allows a lot of people to work from home in their pajamas. But you should never wear pajamas to court. If that seems really obvious to you, you’re on the right track.
- Jeans: Even if you’re one of those weird people who irons, starches, and puts creases in blue jeans, don’t wear them to court unless that is all you have. Especially if they are ripped, holey, stained, bleached, or frayed.
- Low-cut or sagging pants: No one in the courtroom wants to see your butt crack. Actually, no one anywhere wants to see your butt crack, but judges take particular offense at being flashed, and they can make your life miserable.
- Short skirts or dresses: If you can’t sit down or bend over without flashing your panties, your skirt is too short for court. In fact, if you wear a skirt or a dress, don’t go any shorter than knee-length.
- Body jewelry: Your friends might think your eyebrow piercing is cool. Your nose ring might be a plus when you’re trying to pick up a date a bar. However, when you go to court, don’t try to be cool, and definitely, don’t try to pick up dates. Leave your body piercings at home.
- Low-cut shirts: It might seem counterintuitive, but showing off your cleavage will not win points with the judge.
- Any clothing with words that glorify criminal activity: Don’t wear a T-shirt with a big marijuana leaf on it, or “Cocaine” printed in the Coca-Cola font. Especially if you’re there on drug charges.
- Clothing that indicates gang affiliation: You never want to give a judge reason to believe you’re involved with a gang. Even if you’re there for a simple traffic violation, gang symbols or colors tend to bring out the worst in judges and juries. And if you are there facing allegations that include being a member of the Bloods, definitely don’t wear a bright red T-shirt.
- Sporting attire, especially baseball caps: The sun will not be in your eyes in the courtroom, so leave that Yankees hat at home.
We are at the Beach – Shouldn’t the Dress Code be More Informal?
No – you are in court.
Flip-flops, shorts, and a t-shirt are great for walking on the beach, but, if you wear them to court, the bailiff will show you the door. Don’t sabotage your case by telegraphing to the court that you are not taking your court appearance seriously…
So, What Should I Wear to Court?
Your clothes should not “make a statement,” but you should try to pick an outfit that communicates these two things:
- You respect the court and its authority; and
- You are taking your appearance seriously.
These are some appropriate choices to send the appropriate message to the court.
- Suit and tie;
- Long pants (slacks) and a long-sleeve button-down shirt;
- Sports coat over a dress shirt.
- A conservative dress;
- A nice top and long slacks;
- A woman’s business suit.
If you don’t own a suit and tie, that’s ok – the point is to dress respectfully. If the best clothing you own is a pair of slacks and a button-down shirt, make sure they are clean, pressed, and wear them.
SC Criminal Defense Lawyer in Myrtle Beach
Attorney Daniel Selwa represents clients accused of crimes throughout the Myrtle Beach, Conway, Georgetown, and Horry County areas. If you have been charged with a crime, call Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyer Daniel Selwa at (843) 492-5449 or fill out our online contact form to set up a free consultation.