When you spend almost every day in your life in the courtroom, you no doubt take your responsibilities very seriously. Whether the majority of your time is in the magistrates' court, the Crown Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal, or the Supreme Court, you know that everything you do, say, and even how you appear can have a significant impact on the judge and the jury.
This isn't just your way of thinking; it's fact. A survey involving 193 participants was conducted to prove just that. The survey took place in the United States and was developed to see whether a jury could be influenced by an attorney's attributes. It studied how jury members reacted to a lawyer's self-confidence, physical characteristics, presentation, and organisational skills. The end result showed that the jury was indeed more likely to side with an attorney that excelled under these four attributes. In the case of physical characteristics, jury members favoured attorneys who were good-looking and wore appropriate suits throughout the trial.
Another study, performed by Jansen Voss in 2005, explained the many ways that lawyers use their physical appearance, as well as other attributes, to persuade the jury. For instance, she found during her research that many attorneys prefer to wear blue suits on the first day of trial. This is because blue is thought to be a calming colour that invokes trust in the wearer.
What do these studies tell us? They show us that what you wear and how you look can have a significant impact on the jury. If you're a lawyer, it's essential that you know exactly how to dress to make the most out of your time in the courtroom.
Men's Suits in the Courtroom
Let's begin with perhaps the most important piece of lawyer clothing: the suit. Your suits should always be the right size and tailored to fit your body. You should never wear a suit into the courtroom that has any tears, stains, or blemishes; this will simply make you look unprofessional.
When it comes to colour, you have a few choices.
- Black- While many consider black to be the most professional colour for men's suits, they aren't always appropriate in the courtroom. Black can wash out your complexion, making you look sick. It also offers no nuance or subtlety. From a psychological standpoint, black can indicate to the jury that you are trying to hide something and that you are being secretive. In many cases, other colours are better for the courtroom.
- Charcoal and Navy- Yes, these are two very different colours, but they are the suits that should be most prevalent in your wardrobe rotation for the courtroom. Each are dark enough to be considered formal, but they are also still versatile enough that they can be pairs with almost any colours you choose for shirts and ties without appearing overpowering. These two colours also work well with almost any skin tone. There's simply no way you can go wrong with navy or charcoal men's suits.
- Brown- Have you ever heard the saying “Never wear brown to town?” This phrase was born years ago when men would change into brown clothing and tweed jackets before they went sporting in the country. The rule may be outdated, but it still holds true in some cases. Brown tends to be less formal than black, charcoal, or navy, and shouldn't be worn to court.
Other suit colours to avoid in the courtroom are olive, white, and tan.
Dress Shirts, Ties, and Shoes
When you're defending a client in the courtroom or trying to bring the bad guy down, the last thing you want to do is distract the jury with a wildly colourful shirt or tie. It's for this reason that you should always remember the KISS rule- Keep It Simple and Sedate. You can be as fashionable and stylish as you want in the office, but when you're standing in front of the judge, you want to look as professional as possible.
The most common colours of shirts you'll see in the courtroom are solid light blue, solid white, and blue and white patterned shirts (cheques or stripes.) If you do want to think outside the box, stick to subtle, light colours.
Ties are relatively easy to choose, as long as you stay away from novelty ties and patterns that are large and inappropriately scaled. The best choices are:
- Regimental Stripes- You can't go wrong with these, and they are available in several different colours, including green and blue, red and blue, black and white, and blue and gold. They aren't necessarily exciting, but they work well with almost any suit.
- Solids- Dark, solid colours pair well with light shirt, and they always look professional.
- Polka and Pin Dots- If you want to add a bit of your own style to the ensemble, try wearing a tie with polka dots or pin dots. If they are tastefully scaled, they will will look appropriate.
When it comes to your dress shoes, you have two colour choices. Black is considered a proper colour for business in the courtroom, as it is the most formal. However, brown shoes are also admissible and can add a bit of extra style to your men's suits.
Accessories can make or break a lawyer. If you wear too much jewellery, the jury is likely to think of you as untrustworthy, so it's important to carefully consider what you're putting on each morning.
- Watches- Watches should either be silver or gold. If you're wearing other jewellery, like your wedding ring or tie clip, the watch should match. This means that if your tie clip is silver, your watch should be as well. A high quality watch with a black leather strap is also appropriate.
- Jewellery- The only jewellery you should ever wear into a courtroom are watches, tie clips, cuff links, and your wedding band.
- Belts- Like with any ensemble you wear, your belt should always match your shoes. Make sure that the buckle is simple and doesn't distract from the rest of your attire.
Worried about how to dress for court and how your attire will affect the jury? When it comes to lawyer clothing, knowing what to wear and what colours will make the biggest impact is important.