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What Should I Wear to Court?






Preparing to go to court for the first time can be more than a little stressful. The process might feel unfamiliar and you may be worried about how to act in front of the judge and/or jury. To that end, what you choose to wear to court can have an impact on the impression you make and show whether or not you are taking the matter seriously.





As a rule of thumb, you should plan to dress professionally. This usually means selecting clothing that you would wear to church or a job interview. Bear in mind that you don’t want your dress to distract from the proceedings or be too over the top. You should also try to find clothing that is comfortable, as legal proceedings can take a long time. 





If you are ever in doubt about what to wear, you can always reach out to an attorney for advice on what would be appropriate courtroom attire. 





Superior Court of San Diego Dress Code





Keep in mind that the court provides rules on what is considered acceptable dress. It’s important to follow these guidelines or you may be asked to change or leave the proceedings.





Generally speaking, clothes must be clean and neat. Casual wear is not considered formal enough for the courtroom. Inappropriate casual attire includes baggy clothing, tank tops, shorts, short skirts and dresses, flip-flops, and hooded sweatshirts. 





The court does not allow sagging pants that expose your underwear, and you should avoid showing too much skin. Further, the clothing cannot display any inappropriate writing or images. This would include gang symbols, depictions of violence or sex, or references to drugs or alcohol. 





Tips For Proper Dress





Now, in order to make your best impression on the court, there are additional guidelines to follow. First, make sure that you are properly groomed. This would include taking a shower, combing your hair, trimming any facial hair, and having clean fingernails. 





You should also keep any makeup and accessories use to a minimum. Select neutral colors for your makeup and nail polish, and wear only simple, non-distracting jewelry. Try to find professional attire that fits you. The clothing should not be baggy, so if possible buy new clothes if you have recently gained or lost weight. Your dress should not be too revealing or too tight.     





For men, the best bet for professional courtroom attire is a suit and tie. If you don’t have a suit, a dress shirt and trousers are also acceptable. For women, a simple dress or a long skirt that goes down to at least two inches above the knee would be appropriate. Women may also wear trousers with a blouse or a nice sweater along with dress shoes.





When choosing an outfit, try to select colors that are neutral and simple. An example would be dark grey or black slacks with a white or blue top. Remember, try to avoid distracting patterns or bright colors. Cover any visible tattoos and remove piercing jewelry other than simple earrings.   





Other Clothing to Avoid





Although not specifically prohibited by the court, there are other items of clothing to avoid when choosing an outfit. These include jeans, as well as any apparel that you would wear to bed or the gym. Examples are:





  • Leggings
  • T-shirts
  • Sports jerseys
  • Sweat pants, and
  • Pajama bottoms. 




As a general rule, try to not wear sneakers or work boots. However, black sneakers are acceptable if you don’t own dress shoes. For women, avoid wearing super high heels or stilettos. Further, hats should not be worn, but there is an exception for religious head coverings. 





Keep in mind that going to court is not the time to show off your fashion sense. Instead, it’s always best to keep your outfit simple and conservative. Feel free to reach out to an attorney if you have any concerns about what you can wear.


Puja Sachdev

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