Regardless of your role in a personal injury lawsuit, what you wear to court is important. The jurors’ first impressions of you can help or hurt your case. While we want to believe that the evidence always prevails, it is difficult for jurors to entirely dismiss their first impressions of a party or witness in the case.

The New York Unified Court System advises that you should wear conservative clothing. Court proceedings are formal settings. Therefore, you want to be respectful and conservative in your choice of clothing. 

Some courts and judges have specific requirements for attire in the courtroom. Your personal injury lawyer will offer guidance about what you should and should not wear to court. However, the guidelines below apply in most cases.

What Not to Wear to Court?

It can be helpful to review some of the clothing choices that are generally unacceptable in most courtrooms. 

When you go to court, you need to avoid clothing choices such as:

  • Shorts and miniskirts
  • T-shirts
  • Anything clothing with references to alcohol, drugs, criminal activity, sex, or other material that could be considered by some people as offensive
  • Sleeveless shirts or shirts with thin straps
  • Clothing that is tight or revealing
  • Jeans, unless they are in good shape and the only pants you own
  • Hats of any type
  • Any clothing that shows your stomach or your back, including crop tops
  • Strapless dresses and tops
  • Anything that you would wear to a club, to exercise, or wear to an amusement park
  • Sweatshirt, yoga pants, gym shorts, and sweatpants

You need to give thought to your choice of shoes. Do not wear flip-flops, sandals, high-heeled shoes, open-toed shoes, or athletic shoes. 

It is also wise to avoid large pieces of jewelry, unnatural colors of hair, unusual haircuts, and piercings. Hiding tattoos may also be a wise choice, especially if the tattoos could be considered offensive by some people.

Lastly, pay attention to your general hygiene. Your hair should be neat and clean for court. Avoid wearing cologne, perfumes, or scented lotions. Nails should be clean and neat, while avoiding extremely long, brightly colored nails.

What Should I Wear to Court?

Attorneys generally wear suits to court. You are not required to purchase a suit if you do not own a suit. However, it would help if you opted for conservative clothing.

Conservative clothing is usually described as business casual, church clothing, or clothing you would wear to a work function. The clothing should fit without being too tight or too big.

Examples of conservative clothing for men include:

  • Suits and ties
  • Khaki or dress pants
  • Long-sleeve dress shirt
  • Shirts with collars
  • Dress shoes 

Examples of conservative clothing for women include:

  • Business suit
  • Conservative dress 
  • Collared shirt and skirt
  • Long pants and a conservative top
  • Dress shoes

If you have any questions or doubts about what to wear to court, talk to your personal injury lawyer. Most individuals have an outfit that is appropriate for court without the need to purchase clothing. Your attorney can help you choose an outfit that makes an impression on the jury that benefits your case.

How Could Your Attire Impact Your Personal Injury Case?

You were the victim of an accident that resulted in catastrophic injuries. You incurred financial losses, emotional distress, and other damages. The only thing that the jury should pay attention to is the facts in the case that prove the other party caused your injuries.

However, jurors are humans. Everyone has preconceived notions about people because of their clothing or appearance. Jurors need to make a conscious effort to block these thoughts and only pay attention to the facts, but the truth is that impressions can and do make a difference in court.

Jurors often hear conflicting stories from the parties and witnesses about what happened. The jurors must decide who is telling the truth. You never want your attire or appearance to distract jurors from listening to your explanation of what happened to you.

You want jurors to take you seriously and trust that you are telling the truth. Conservative clothing is the best choice. A juror may subconsciously equate honesty with someone who is dressed in conservative attire.

Jury trials are unpredictable. Until the jury renders a verdict, you never know for sure what the jurors may or may not consider important. You also do not know if a juror holds any preconceived beliefs that could work for or against you.

By choosing conservative clothing, you remove one element that could hurt your case. You do not want to overdress, as that could also be viewed negatively by some jurors. Simple, plain conservative clothing leaves little for a juror to think about other than your testimony.