3 Pro Tips about How to Dress for Court

Recent research shows that people can make a very accurate assessment of us just by looking at our clothes without even seeing our faces. Social status, education, preferences, interests, mood – all this can be assumed simply by the clothes, shoes, accessories we wear and how we match them.

Until recently, it was considered that it takes 7 seconds to judge a person we see for the first time – but the impression of us begins much earlier than we think. It becomes clear that our brain draws conclusions about people only in a matter of a split second with the help of past experience or in other words the so-called “Thin slicing” effect.

We often have a second chance to correct the first impression in case it is not good enough. It takes more than 20 good impressions for us to replace the negative first one.

However, there are moments when you have only one shot to show who you are, and one of those situations is the court hearing. That’s why you have to be prepared in terms of your appearance when you are about to show up in court. You maybe already know the basic rules to dress in court.

In order to get the most out of your court appearance, here are three pro styling tips to consider (an article with collaboration with Fraier & Maillet, P.C., Divorce & Family Lawyers):

1. Keep Unisex Style or in Other Words…

..to avoid appearing too feminine or too masculine fitting.

Showing too much skin by the ladies (such as deep slits, cleavage, or too tight clothes) or wearing too feminine clothes and stiletto will be perceived as an attempt of manipulation.

On the other hand, wearing clothes that emphasize too much on the muscle or a shirt with rolled-up sleeves in gentlemen can be recognized as an attempt of dominance or even hostility.

In order to avoid this kind of conclusion, it is good to focus on the way a garment fits you. The style and the fitting are the most crucial things about your look. It is good to take into consideration whether or not it is too tight, too loose, or too long. If it is necessary to make some adjustments, then take the time to visit a tailor and make sure that the garment is suitable for your body. If it is not, you might look more casual than intended.

Choose timeless pieces or in other words clothes that would be received well by people of all genders and various backgrounds, ages, experiences, preferences.

2. No Edgy Embellishments or Bright Colors, Instead…

…try to stick to basic accessories and neutral colors.

Do not wear items, prints, and decorations that might express a message and demonstrate specific personal preferences. There is no way for you to foresee how this could be interpreted in court.

It might even be provocative symbols (such as a lapel pin, brooch, a tattoo) or inscriptional thoughts (such as prints and labels) we are so accustomed to in our daily life that we don`t pay attention to, but that might impress a person who sees us for the first time.

I recommend that jewelry and accessories are less eye-catching – delicate, small, a maximum of 3 for women (e.g. watch, necklace, earrings). Gentlemen are suggested not to wear accessories or to wear only a watch. It would actually be of great help because they would look like someone quite trustworthy.

The same goes for colors. We must be careful of the shades we choose and how we combine them. Their influence is not insignificant in the whole look.

Studies show that bright colors have an over-exciting and sometimes even irritating effect on the perceptions of certain people. Since you can’t know what type of person is sitting across from you, it’s a good idea to avoid them.

Furthermore, avoid all-white outfits (such as a dress, suit) or a top (such as a shirt, jacket, vest). This color contains all the other colors and due to this fact, continuous staring at it gets quite stressful to the eyes.

Choose muted or pastel colors. They will create a sense of tranquility, neutrality, goodwill.

Save dark colors such as charcoal, navy blue, and dark brown for a suit. Black creates social distance and often does not allow us to convey the emotional effect of what we say. That is why it is recommended to use it only as a small element in the outfit, shoes, bag, belt.

3. As close as possible to your style in real life…

…so that you don’t look like you’re a completely different person in the courtroom.

This could cause various conclusions we have no control over. One of them is looking like you are trying too hard to get liked. This is never taken well.

Instead, improve your style with a couple of details without making extreme changes. Here are a few examples…

In case you have never worn a suit, it is highly likely that it feels unnatural if you wear one for the first time before going to court. Studies show that wearing clothes that are not typical for us could affect our judgment and can even make it unrealistic.

If this is your case, replace the suit with simple cotton slacks for men or a knee-length skirt for women, combined with a shirt. They must, of course, be in good condition, ironed, and free of abrasions or stains.

In case you wear makeup in your daily life, do not go to court completely makeup-free. You will certainly look gloomy and evoke compassion, but it will also seem as if you are purposefully looking to win sympathy and pity. Such manipulation would not be tolerated, as well. Keep in mind that the people you will be speaking in front of have done their research in advance and have enough preliminary information about you. A simple daily makeup in nude shades, no dark eyeshadows, or bright lipstick would be optimal.

Certainly, a smart approach would be if you select clothes, footwear, accessories, makeup, and hairstyle that present your effort to look nice and neat in court. This always shows respect and esteem for the institution and the people there.

Meet the author

Hi, I’m Tia!

A Barcelona-based international fashion stylist, designer & image expert with over 20 years of professional experience in the fashion field. I work with individuals and businesses both online and in person helping them create their best image, making them feel confident in the world.

I believe personal style is a powerful asset we can all have no matter the social status, age, experience, culture, lifestyle and body type. It all comes down to having the right guidance and support. By changing our clothes we can influence the way we perform at any given moment.

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