Courtroom Attire for Females

Written by Troy Marsh |

Whether you are in the courtroom because you were injured in a car accident, charged with a DUI, or are filing a personal injury lawsuit, your appearance matters.


Make yourself look as attractive as possible (without violating the dress code)!

A recent study from researchers at Cornell University found that more attractive defendants were more likely than their less pretty counterparts to get light sentences: the less attractive criminals earned, on average, “22 months longer in prison.”  One could easily see that a criminal defendant, or anyone involved in a court proceeding, might be considered more attractive to those involved in the process (prosecutor, judge, jury) if what they wear to court shows they have respect for what is going on around them.

Most court dress codes are strict, intending to keep order and protect the safety of attendees.  They are also designed to match the level of respect one should grant the justice system.  And, because judges are the arbiters of that respect, they also have the right to enforce the dress code–with fines and jail time.

When choosing what to wear to court, ask yourself this question: How do I want to portray myself?  Then, dress accordingly.

Generally, in a criminal case, the goal is to look as young and innocent as possible.

 Jane Murdoch Miller, a Virginia-based image consultant said, “There’s no question, people respond emotionally before they respond intellectually, and we can use clothing as a tool to create the response we want…[T]he more a woman’s body is covered, the more respect men tend to feel toward her.   Men, she says, are more likely to sexualize a woman, and therefore take her less seriously, if they see her skin.  To dress to get equal respect from men, you need to keep flesh covered.” 

It is preferable for females to wear a dress or suit or a skirt (preferably no more than two inches above the knee) and a blouse, sweater, or casual dress shirt.  Pants are not preferred.

Colors are important!

Wear neutral, pastel colors.


  • shorts
  • mini-dress
  • hat
  • halter or tube top
  • ill-fitting clothing
  • flip flops
  • clothing that exposes your midriff or underwear
  • baggy pants that fall below your hips
  • clothing with an emblem or wording that promotes illegal or inappropriate activity
  • clothing that depicts or promotes violence, sex acts, illegal drug use or profanity
  • any clothing that shows any part of your breast
  • pajamas
  • extremely expensive outfits
  • sunglasses
  • flashy jewelry, i.e. “bling”
  • jeans
  • wrinkled clothing
  • cut-offs
  • tank tops
  • yoga pants
  • loud patterns
  • excessive makeup
  • excessive perfume
  • sandals or open-toe shoes
  • see-through or low-cut clothes
  • clashing colors
  • noisy bangles
  • large bracelets, rings, cufflinks, tie tacks and earrings
  • red or pink clothing
  • all black clothing
  • false eyelashes
  • more than one ring 


  • Wear little or no makeup.
  • Remove all visible piercings.  This specifically includes tongue piercings and nose rings.
  • Cover all visible tattoos.
  • Wear closed toe shoes.
  • Wear glasses if you normally wear glasses.
  • Wear your hair and nails trimmed and orderly.
  • Dress like a professional.
  • Dress conservatively and, when appropriate, wear good quality clothing.
  • If you have a choice, always dress as well as the other people who may appear in court.
  • Remember that the “good guys” never wear black.
  • Always be neat and clean.
  • Avoid putting anything on your hair that makes it shine or appear greasy.
  • Avoid wearing tinted or dark colored glasses in the courtroom (People will not believe you if they cannot see your eyes).
  • Wear only functional jewelry (e.g., wedding ring and wrist watch).
  • Avoid wearing items that may identify a personal association or belief.  Political buttons, club pins, college rings, religious jewelry may trigger some prejudices against you in the mind of a judge or prosecutor.
  • Dress to fit the expectations of your audience; judges expect you to look like a professional.
  • Be clean. Nothing is more offensive than a bad body odor; it creates a negative aura around the person and conveys the image of someone with low self-esteem and lack of confidence.  I cannot emphasize enough how important cleanliness is.  Even if you cannot afford to buy soap, a quick shower with just water will do the job.
  • Wear plain patterns or floral patterns.
  • If you wear a dress or skirt, wear sheer, nylon pantyhose.

Remember that even a small flaw in your appearance will be noticed by the judge, jury, and opposing counsel, and it may hurt your credibility.


What colors are best for you.

What clothing styles look good on you.

What makeup is best for you.

How to make the most of your physical appearance.

If you have any questions about your attire, you should consult with your lawyer BEFORE you step in the courtroom!


Wearing the Right Colors to Court – Do attorneys do this?

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What Not to Wear…TO COURT!

Courtroom Attire: Ensuring Witness Attire Makes the Right Statement