Serving Clients in Knox, Blount, Anderson, Loudon, Sevier & Roane Counties

Apparel for a Court Appearance


When you are scheduled for a court appearance, choosing your attire is important.  Remember, if the Judge is paying attention to your outfit, then he or she isn’t paying attention to your message. The most important reason that you are in court is to have the Judge hear your case. You don’t want to draw attention away from that.   A “too” bright outfit or a shirt with words on it are not only distracting, but potentially looked upon as a sign of disrespect.  And, as a matter of fact, you don’t want the Court to notice your outfit at all.  So, the checklist below is important.


You don’t have to rush to buy a new outfit.   Instead, wear clothes that are modest, simple, and which fit you well. Choose neutral colors, navy, dark brown, or grey, and above all, make sure they are clean.  If you need to purchase clothing and money is an issue, be creative. Perhaps borrow from a friend, or take a stroll through the aisles at a thrift store.  Often, there are brand new items on the rack for a fraction of the cost.

Brenda Swauger, in a post for the ABA Journal reminds us “We’ve all heard the cliches: You only get one chance to make a first impression, dress for success, and you are what you wear. While these maxims are familiar, they are also true. You are judged in less than seven seconds, so dressing appropriately can help you win or lose your case.”

So, although some of the bullet points below are common sense, some may surprise you.

  • do not wear hats or head coverings unless you are required to wear one for a religious reason
  • sunglasses and jewelry are not appropriate
  • bright colors may distract
  • if you have long hair, put it in a pony tail
  • jeans, shorts, athletic shoes and sandals are not appropriate
  • visible tattoos or piercings are not appropriate.  So many people have one or more and it is almost commonplace, except in the courtroom
  • do not wear T-shirts, and definitely no t-shirts with words on them
  • do not wear hats or head coverings unless for a religious reason
  • keep the make-up to a minimum
  • sunglasses are not appropriate
  •  limit the amount of jewelry
  • “form fitting” clothing and bright colors are not appropriate
  • clothes that reveal bare skin on your legs, above your elbows, bare shoulders, and cleavage are not appropriate
  • sandals, athletic shoes or heels higher than 2 inches are not appropriate
  • visible tattoos or piercings, are not appropriate, keep them hidden, and to a minimum.
  • do not wear T-shirts, and especially no T-shirts with words on them, no matter how uplifting the words my be

In those first “7 seconds”, your credibility could be put on the line, and although these may seem harsh or old fashioned, remember the most important part of this court date; an outcome in your favor.  Together with this list in hand, let one of our attorneys at Held Law Firm help you move from the court to a new life.~~ Margaret Held