Contact the Family Law Team
P: (919) 821-4711


Physical Address:
Wells Fargo Building
150 Fayetteville Street
Suite 1800
Raleigh, NC 27601


Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 1151
Raleigh, NC 27602

(Wake County)
(919) 821-4711
Fax: (919) 829-1583

Tharrington Smith's Family Law Team

What to Wear to Court

Frustrated woman standing in her closet before a row of hanging garments trying to choose what to wear

Having to appear in civil, criminal, or family court can be a stressful experience. When you appear in court, it is important that your physical presentation and demeanor are appropriate for the gravity of the situation that brought you there. Proper consideration of your attire can help you make a good impression on the judge and jury.

Although there are no clear rules or guidelines about expected attire in North Carolina courts, many judges have published minimal standards for dress in their individual courtrooms. Good rules include avoiding:

  • ripped or torn jeans/pants
  • shorts or cropped pants
  • halter or tube tops
  • hats
  • see-through or revealing clothing
  • clothing that exposes your midriff
  • clothing with inappropriate or illegal images
  • baggy or sagging pants
  • open-toed shoes or athletic shoes
  • exercise clothing
  • clothing that is tightly fitted
  • sunglasses
  • excessive jewelry
  • pajama clothing or slippers

Court attire should be conservative, modest, and business casual. Dressing for court is similar to dressing for work in a business office, to go to church, or to go to an interview. While attorneys are expected to appear for court in suits, it is not required that the general public do so. It can be just as critical to your case that you not overdress and that you keep your attire in line with the facts of your case. Deciding how to dress can be difficult if you have never appeared in court. In addition to considering the general guidelines below, discuss with your lawyer the best way to make the impression you want to establish in court.

General Guidelines for Men: Men should wear a tucked in long sleeve shirt and long pants that are pulled up and belted. Judges are often strict about tucked in shirttails and sagging pants in their courtroom. Ties and sports coats are recommended but not necessary in all situations.

General Guidelines for Women: Women should wear a conservative blouse with pants or a skirt, or a dress of appropriate length. Shoulders should be covered with a jacket or cardigan while in the courtroom.

Other Considerations: Both men and women should wear closed-toe shoes and attire that conceals body art. Before appearing in court, ensure that your hair is trimmed and brushed and that facial hair is neat and clean. Additionally, trim your nails, brush your teeth, and wear deodorant. Avoid excessive cologne or perfume.

Putting your best appearance forward in court tells a judge you care about the outcome of your matter, are taking the process seriously, and are showing proper respect for the institution of the court. If you have questions or concerns about your attire for court or your legal matter, call your attorneys at Tharrington Smith. We can help you make appropriate apparel choices for both federal and state courts.

The information contained in this article and throughout the Tharrington Smith website is correct and accurate as of the date of publication of the content. This general information should not be relied on as legal advice. While accurate and informative, the content is provided to help you make a qualified decision in choosing a law firm to guide you through your legal matter. To schedule a consultation, call our Raleigh office at (919) 821-4711.