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How should I dress for court?

Updated: Feb 18

What should I wear to court? #OhioLegalGroup


The question of what should I wear to court is a non gender-specific question, as it's an often asked question by our clients who are uncertain of what's appropriate.

The short answer is to dress so that if the court did not know your attorney, that the court would not know which of you was the attorney.

Most communication is non-verbal. Accordingly, your posture and apparel are critical to consider when appearing in court, as you have counsel who will likely be speaking for you.


The one thing you can somewhat safely trust from television about the law is guidance on how to dress for court: dress well! Court staff see a lot of people and oftentimes the easy points to achieve by appearing in court are: show up on time, dress for success, and be polite to everyone.

We cannot speak for any specific judge or court, but conservative is usually safe. Minimize clothes that will be overly revealing of skin, loud colors, unnatural hair coloring (it doesn't have to be your natural color, but we recommend you avoid pink), and/or revealing tattoos. We cast no judgment for these things, but we're sure you know people who would judge you for them. Accordingly, assume one of those people were deciding your case. You want to avoid unnecessarily distracting them from the merits of your case and avoid provoking them against you.

Our advice here will be very traditionally geared towards men and women; and if you cannot follow all the advice, then try to follow as much as possible based upon your resources. Just work your way down the line to meet the elements you have in your wardrobe.

How should men dress for court?


Men should wear a suit, if they have one, along with a dress shirt and tie, a belt, and dress shoes.


If you don't have a suit to wear, then wear a sport coat; if you don't have a sport coat, consider a sweater (if weather appropriate).


If you don't have a dress shirt: a long sleeved, button-up shirt, then consider a short sleeved button up, or a polo shirt. Yes, it should be tucked in. Court is not the place to wear even your nicest apparel if it includes a liquor company's logo.


If you don't have suit pants, then wear khakis.... If you don't have those, then black jeans are preferred over blue jeans. Shorts should never be worn.


Dress shoes are preferred. They should match your belt, if possible. In any event, just as for women, we suggest you avoid flip-flops, crocs, and excessively muddy work-boots. Nobody should be able to trace your steps through the courthouse by following your trail of mud; it will not endear you to the court.


How should women dress for court?


Women should strive to wear a dress or suit, as well, with dress shoes or boots.


We recommend you not wear low cut blouses, low cut dresses, or things that will be overly revealing. If that's all you have in dresses and tops, then we recommend a sweater or perhaps a scarf to tone it down a little to be appropriate.


Women tend to be able to more tastefully manage an untucked shirt than men; however, it should not reveal the midriff or bellybutton.


Skirts and dresses should be reasonable length -- not more than a couple inches above the knee. (I know -- this is very antiquated, but, again, consider the finder of fact may be very antiquated too).


Most shoes will be acceptable, however, we specifically discourage flip-flops and crocs.




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