The way you present yourself can have a huge impact on how people perceive you – and dressing for court when you need to appear for your personal injury claim is no exception. Dressing properly is key to creating a solid first impression with the judge and jury. Your case should not depend on what you wea – or what you do not wear – to court.
However, because your appearance can have such a critical impact on the way people perceive you, you may want to carefully consider how you dress on the day of your court appearance so that you can maximize their trust in you. How do you know what you should wear to court? Consider these key guidelines as you decide on the ideal outfit for your court appearance.
Keep It Professional
The first rule of dressing for court is to assume that you need to be as professional as possible. That may mean, for example, no jeans, no muscle shirts, and certainly no clothing with holes.
Think about the clothing you might wear for a typical day at the office. Men, for example, might want to wear a button-down shirt or polo and slacks, while women might benefit from a blouse and slacks or a professional dress. A neat, professional appearance will help establish you as someone the court should take seriously.
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Avoid Drawing Attention
Try to choose neat, professional attire that will not draw unnecessary attention to you. You might want to avoid wearing unnecessarily flashy clothing or excessive makeup. Check your attire to make sure that it does not show unnecessary cleavage, even when sitting down. If you wear a skirt, make it office-length, not the length you might wear on a date.
You may also want to consider your color choices: neutral color choices may be less likely to stand out, which may make it easier for you to present the appearance that you want.
Keep in mind that going to court may mean a long day or series of days. Delays can result in even more hours spent in the courtroom, waiting for your turn to speak.
Check your clothing ahead of time to make sure that it’s comfortable. If you haven’t been back to work since your accident – or had the chance to wear your usual professional wear – you may want to make sure that the clothing still fits: even a few pounds gained while you’re healing can result in tight, uncomfortable waistbands or clothing that pinches. Check to make sure that it’s comfortable sitting as well as standing, since you may spend a great deal of the day sitting around and waiting.
If you’re fidgeting in your seat due to uncomfortable clothing, it may draw unnecessary attention to you, leaving you struggling to keep everyone’s attention on your case. Don’t forget about your shoes when you’re selecting an outfit for comfort, either. While you may spend most of the day sitting, tight shoes will still start to pinch after a while – and you should not kick your shoes off in the courtroom. Avoid sneakers (which will not appear professional) unless your injury requires them.
Consider Your Injuries
When you dress for your court appearance, take your injuries into account. You may be tempted to put on your favorite pair of heels because they make you feel confident. However, if you cannot stand in them for more than a few minutes at a time without those heels causing pain due to your injuries, you may want to avoid them.
Your clothing should not attempt to brush off or ignore the extent of your injuries. While you should not highlight them deliberately, you should also avoid wearing clothing that minimizes the extent of your injuries: for example, wearing heels when you claim ongoing back or leg problems or wearing a tight-fitting outfit that clearly displays that you have not worn a brace you claim to need, could interfere with your claim.
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Avoid Flashy Accessories
In the courtroom, you do not want to show off your wealth or privilege, if you have it. Instead, make sure you leave flashy accessories, including expensive jewelry, at home. Flashy accessories can influence jury perceptions, and not always for the better.
Remember, minimal accessories can go a long way toward creating the look you want. If in doubt, leave off the accessories. Remember, your courtroom appearance is about your case, not about your jewelry.
Eliminate Potential Distractions
In the courtroom, you may find yourself falling back on nervous habits: tapping your nails, playing with your hair, or tapping your leg, for example. While those are all examples of reasonable human behavior, they can also prove distracting – and may draw the attention to you when you want it on an attorney or witness.
Eliminate those distractions ahead of time by considering what you most often do when you’re nervous. For example, if you routinely twirl your hair, consider wearing it up to keep it out of your reach. If you know that you often tap your heel against the floor, choose shoes that do not make a great deal of noise, even on a hard floor.
If you pick at your clothing, you may want to avoid clothing that will likely have balls or loose threads you can pick. Simple attention to those details ahead of time can go a long way toward ensuring that you present the neat, professional appearance you want to present in the courtroom.
Contact a Lawyer to Learn More
If you know that your claim is headed to the courtroom, you may want to work with a lawyer who can help you establish exactly what you should wear to court. At Morris Bart, we help our clients with every detail of their courtroom appearance, including how to dress. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you manage your personal injury claim while presenting yourself in the best possible light.
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