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What NOT to Wear to Court


Kathryn Wayne-Spindler has been practicing Family Law for more than 20 years and has seen some notable outfits in the courtroom hallways. Through two decades of Southeastern Michigan law practice, she has developed some tips for clients seeking to make their best impression on court day. What follows here is a catalog of clothing foibles and follies to avoid for your court date. Scroll to the bottom for advice about what you SHOULD wear to court.

Look Your Best?

No formalwear to court

Although we tell clients to “look their best,” that doesn’t mean top hat and tails. Kathy remembers a time she suggested that a client “dress up” for the court appearance and the client showed up the next day in a ball gown, updo and corsage. Our advice is when we say look your best, we mean:

  • Floss teeth
  • Brush hair
  • Modest makeup for women
  • Clean and shine shoes
  • Wear appropriate clothing

Personal Grooming

Personal Grooming for courtWe understand (and agree) that tattoos and gnarly beards are an expression of individual beauty and personality. However, treat a court appointment as a job interview or any professional endeavor. Our advice for court appearance is:

  • Cover tattoos
  • No bare shoulders or short skirts
  • Groom facial hair
  • Don’t dye hair a bright color before a court appearance

What not to wear to courtHead to Toe Harley?

Just as with tattoos and multiple piercings, we get that clothing can be an expression of your personality. That said, save the expression for out-of-court. Our advice is to avoid:

  • Shirts with large logos
  • Leather clothing
  • Tight, skimpy or low-cut outfits
  • Underwear or bra showing
  • Ultra-high heels
  • Cowboy hats, or any hats for that matter…

Heads Up!

No hats in courtWe recommend against hats of all varieties at the courthouse. There are many reasons:

  • The most important reason is that many courthouses prohibit hats in courtrooms.
  • Many ballcaps promote certain hobbies, sports’ teams or organizations that may encourage people to “judge a book by its cover.”



No groutfits in courtFirst of all, a definition – a groutfit is any slouchy, comfy, sweatpant or pajama-like outfit. Often grey. The groutfit screams, “I didn’t want to leave my house today!” and quite often the accompanying message, “I don’t care what you think, I’ve given up.” Our advice is to avoid:

  • Sweatpants
  • Velour jump suits
  • Leggings or fleece
  • Or actual pajamas. (Shouldn’t have to state that last one but hey, you never know.)

Flip or Flop?

No sneakers in courtAppearing in court is serious business and judges should be shown the respect they’ve earned. For that reason, avoid dressing like you’ve going to the mall or to pick up the kids from school. Our advice is to avoid:

  • Jeans or shorts
  • Pants with rips or tears
  • Flip flops or sneakers
  • T-shirts or tank tops
  • White or bright-colored socks

So Here’s What You Should Wear to Court

What TO Wear to CourtAppropriate court attire means professional or business casual. Wear what you would wear to a job interview or as Kathy would say, “wear what you would wear to church.”

Our advice for Men:

  • A suit, dress pants or khakis (clean, well-fitted and pressed)
  • Dress shirt or nice sweater
  • Dress shoes with dark socks
  • A tie is recommended but optional

What to wear to courtOur advice for Women

  • Suit; dress; skirt or dress pants with a nice blouse or sweater
  • No formal or eveningwear
  • Clean dress shoes with reasonable heels


For more advice about successful family court appearances, contact the Milford, Michigan law office of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates at 248-676-1000. The law office helps clients throughout Southeastern Michigan with family law cases including divorce, custody, visitation, change of domicile, probate, guardianship and many more legal matters. The experienced Michigan attorneys handles cases in Milford; Hartland; Highland; White Lake; Commerce: WIxom; Waterford; Walled Lake; South Lyon; New Hudson; Howell; Holly; Grand Blanc and dozens of other local communities.

Written by Christine Donlon Long, Communications’ Specialist for Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates