What Should I Wear to Court?
When you go to court for a personal injury case, you are required to wear appropriate attire. However, what is considered proper attire for court? If this is your first time in a courtroom for a hearing or a trial, you may not be sure what to wear to court.
Your personal injury lawyer will discuss proper attire for court with you before your court hearing. However, some general guidelines apply in almost all courtrooms throughout Massachusetts.
What Should I Avoid Wearing to Court in Massachusetts?
The Massachusetts government provides guidelines for courtroom attire, at least for criminal court. These guidelines are also applicable to civil court cases, including cases related to car accidents, construction accidents, medical malpractice trials, slip and fall accidents, and other personal injury cases.
As a general rule, you need to avoid wearing the following items to court:
- Hats of any type
- Miniskirts and shorts
- Blue jeans, unless that is the only pants you own and they are in good condition with no rips, tears, or stains
- Shirts with thin straps
- Sleeveless shirts
- Any clothing that has references to offensive material, including references to drugs, alcohol, political issues, sex, etc.
- Clothing that is too revealing or tight
- Strapless tops and dresses
- Workout clothing, including yoga pants, sweatpants, sweatshirts, and gym shorts
- Anything clothing that you would wear to an amusement park, club, or to lounge around your home
It is also important that you pay close attention to your hygiene and general appearance. Your hair should be clean and neat. Avoid unnatural color dyes and non-conservative styles, such as mohawks.
Do not wear large pieces of jewelry. It can be helpful to remove or hide piercings. It would be best if you hide tattoos whenever possible, especially tattoos that contain messages that could be offensive to some people.
Do not wear scented lotions, perfumes, or cologne to court. Make sure that your fingernails are trimmed and neat. Avoid overly long fingernails and brightly colored nail polish.
When choosing your shoes, avoid tennis or athletic shoes, high-heeled spikes, flip-flops, work boots, and sandals.
What Are the Best Clothing Options for Court?
When dressing for court, you want to choose conservative attire. Keep it simple and classic. Conservative attire is usually defined as church clothing, business casual, or clothing you would wear to an interview.
Conservative clothing should fit properly without being too tight or too large. You want to give the impression that you understand the gravity of the situation. Conservative clothing indicates that you are respectful of the court, judge, and jurors.
Examples of conservative clothing options for women include:
- Conservative top and dress pants
- Business suit
- Tailored skirt and a collared shirt
- Conservative dress
- Dress shoes
Examples of conservative clothing options for men include:
- Long-sleeved dress shirt
- Dress pants
- Khaki pants
- Collared shirts
- Suit and tie
- Dress shoes
Keep colors plain and simple. Avoid prints and bright colors.
If you have questions about whether an outfit is appropriate for court, talk to your personal injury lawyer. You want to ensure that you do not distract from your case by wearing an outfit that is inappropriate for a courtroom.
Your lawyer may ask you to bring in several outfits that you intend to wear to court so that you can discuss the clothing options. Most individuals have clothing in their closets that is appropriate for court hearings and trials.
A person rarely needs to purchase an outfit specifically for a court appearance. However, checking with your lawyer well in advance of your court appearance gives you time to purchase a new outfit, if necessary.
If you have family members testifying at trial, you also want to make sure that they choose conservative clothing for their court appearance. You want witnesses to appear trustworthy and respectful when telling the jury about how an accident has impacted your life.
Why Does it Matter What I Wear to Court?
Jurors should not allow their impressions of a party’s physical appearance or clothing to impact their decision about a case. However, first impressions matter. Everyone is human, even jurors, and it is very easy to make judgments based on a person’s clothing.
A juror may consciously try to avoid thinking about a party’s clothing, but it could be difficult. You never want your clothing to be the focus. When you testify about how the other party caused your injury and how you have suffered because of the accident, you want jurors to focus on your testimony and damages, not what you wear.
Jury trials are unpredictable. You never know what jurors might do when a personal injury lawsuit goes to trial. Therefore, you want to do everything you can to give yourself the best chance of a successful outcome, including choosing your court attire carefully.