What Should I Wear to Divorce Court?

Conservative business attire will make the best impression in the courtroom. Do not wear shorts, mini-skirts, tank tops, or halter tops. You should avoid “loud” colors to avoid standing out for the wrong reasons, especially when custody is in dispute. Clothes should fit well, so you remain comfortable during the proceedings.

While it may seem superficial to judge a book by its cover, the fact is that it continues to happen. Psychology Today[1] elaborates on one’s first impression as the halo effect: “the perception of positive qualities in one thing or part gives rise to the perception of similar qualities in related things or in the whole.” In the case of the courtroom, the outfit worn while meeting the judge (and one’s lawyer for the first time) matter.

Court attire for women: The pros and cons

Jurors[2] are commonly told to avoid wearing shorts, mini-skirts, tank tops, and halter tops. And if they do wear these items, more than likely they will be asked to return home with no travel reimbursement and required to complete jury duty again. Keep that in mind when picking out an outfit for the courtroom. While the colors of the outfit do matter, pay attention to how the clothing fits.

Avoid any attire that is see-through. Sometimes thin material can be deceiving. In dark lighting, it may seem OK. But that same dark blouse under a bright light may surprisingly accentuate undergarments. (This is one of the tricks that retail store fitting rooms use. Always try that same outfit on outside in bright light.)

The same can be said for the fit of the clothing. If that skirt or shirt must constantly need to be adjusted, it becomes a distraction to the jury and the judge. What may be simply be apparel discomfort can easily be misconstrued as discomfort regarding the courtroom proceedings.

Other tips for women

A knee-length skirt suit or slacks and a blouse with flats are safe. Flat shoes or very small heels are less likely to be uncomfortable, quieter when walking, and easier to walk in especially if rushing. Skip the flip-flops and stilettos. While makeup and perfume are OK to wear, avoid heavily made-up faces and strong perfume, both of which can also be distracting. Read more tips here.

What should men wear to divorce court?

While men may generally have an easier time choosing clothing—usually a clean, pressed suit; or ironed slacks, a dress shirt, and a blazer—the fit of the suit is where things may go wrong. Under no circumstances should that outfit, which should be considered a safe bet, fit so comfortably that you can sleep in it. It should neither be too tight nor too baggy, and avoid baggy or sagging jeans at all costs.

Although jurors are carefully selected and asked a great deal of questions, don’t assume that you and the jury are on the same page when it comes to all topics. Avoid clothing with controversial emblems or wording; items that promote violence, sexual acts, drug usage, or profanity; and political or religious messages. Anything that can distract a juror or judge from the case at hand is problematic and may sway a person’s opinion of the case.

Other tips for men

Glasses are perfectly reasonable to properly see what’s going on in court. But be careful with glasses that can transition into sunglasses. The lighting in the courtroom may change the glasses to sunglasses involuntarily, and give the judge and jurors a “too cool” aura. A wedding ring, even in divorce court, is OK to wear but it may send mixed messages during divorce court. But one ring is enough. A simple watch (no extra flash) and one ring is enough. Any more than that, and it can give court attendees the idea that you have enough money to share the wealth.

Do's & don'ts of court attire

Be Neat and Professional
You do not need to shop for new formal dresses before you can go to court. Just be smart enough to choose the right clothes from your wardrobe. Pick the dresses that will make you look professional. There is no requirement that it has to be a designer item. Just make sure that once you wear it, you will appear neat and respectable. Also, avoid bright, loud and pastel colors for it may call unnecessary attention. Most importantly, do not wear items which have profane prints on them.

Choose the Right Shoes
What you wear is a reflection of who you are. Once you have selected the perfect dress for court, the next thing to do is to select the proper shoes for it. As much as possible, your footwear must be simple but elegant. If you have no idea how to mix and match, you can ask a fashionable friend to help you. When in doubt, you can never go wrong with a black pair of shoes. Never wear flip flops when visiting a courtroom.

Do Not Overdo Your Hair or Makeup
While impressive clothing may make a good impact, a bad makeup and hairdo can bring the good impression down the drain. Hence, it is important that you also focus on the makeup that you will be wearing in the courtroom. Choose natural colors. Do not overdo your makeup during your appearance in court. Your hairstyle must also be subdued.

Do Not Wear Too Many Accessories
Never accessorize whenever you attend a trial or hearing. Wear only functional jewelry items like a wedding ring or wristwatch. Do not put on large earnings or bracelets. Find the correct accessories that will communicate to the judge and jury that you are a reasonable person.

The psychology of color

In the psychology world[3], all colors mean something—both positive and negative.

  • Black: Powerful, sophisticated, elegant, strong. But also mysterious, grieving.
  • Brown: Down-to-earth, friendly, warm. But also boring, lack of humor, frugal.
  • Green: Growth, harmony, stability, fertility, money. But also likely to have idle chit-chat, materialistic.
  • Maroon: Controlled, strong, courageous. But also aggressive, angry, quick-tempered, rebellious, domineering
  • Orange: Joy, sunshine, enthusiastic, creative, successful. But also insincere, pessimistic, arrogant.
  • Purple: Royalty, power, nobility, luxurious, ambitious. But also aggravates depression.
  • Red: Strength, power, determination, desire, love. But also signifies danger.
  • White: Innocent, pure, safe. But also cold, isolating, empty.
  • Yellow: Joy, happiness, intellectual, cheerful. But also makes babies cry.

References: [1]Psychology Today, [2]Jurors, [3]Psychology World

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