Cleary Law LLC

You Wore What to Court?

I am often amazed by what some people wear to court when they have been charged with a crime. Even if you have been charged with a minor offense, you need to dress appropriately for court.Court Dress Code

If it were up to me, we could all wear whatever we wanted to and not be judged by our clothes. But that’s not the way it works.

South Carolina is a conservative state and, as such, so are our Judges, police officers, and prosecutors. The way you look in court may very well determine whether you get a break on your charges or whether you are deemed to be not worthy of a break. That’s just the way it is.

A court appearance, whether it is DUI court, family court, or general sessions court, is not the place to show your unique sense of style or to voice your political views.

Neither is court is the place to wear your new expensive sneakers or jewelry. I have heard judges decline to give a defendant more time to pay child support – nothing if he could afford the bling, he could afford to take care of his kids. Likewise, a judge may be less inclined to reduce your fine, if you look like you have money to blow.

If you are going to court for a jury trial, you need to talk to your lawyer about what to wear because it is going to depend on the circumstances of your case.

But for other court appearances, you should dress neatly and modestly. You don’t have to wear a suit or a dress, but you need to be dressed “appropriately.”

In certain courts, you will not be let in the door if you are wearing flip-flops, short shorts, exposed shoulders, untucked shirts, and saggy pants.

For a court appearance (not a trial), it is usually fine for you to wear your work uniform – clean scrubs, mechanics shirt, or a shirt or blazer with company logo on it. If your uniform is a T-shirt, bring a collared shirt to wear over it. If you are in the military, follow the appropriate military regulations regarding wearing uniforms. Generally fatigues on active duty personnel are acceptable. If you are an exotic dancer or in certain other service industries, your work uniform is not appropriate.

Here is a guideline of what to wear to make sure you aren’t judged negatively based on your attire.


  • Shirts
    • preferably collared
    • no prominent emblems
    • tucked into trousers
  • Trousers
    • khakis or nice jeans
    • no holes
    • no prominent emblems
    • no sagging below the waist
    • belted
  • Shoes
    • closed (not sandals)
    • simple (not flashy)


  • Shirts
    • no prominent emblems
    • covers shoulders, cleavage, stomach, and back
  • Trousers
    • khakis or nice jeans
    • no holes
    • covers rear end completely
  • Skirts/Dresses
    • covers upper thigh and rear-end, even when leaning over
  • Shoes
    • Pretty much any shoe other than flip-flops are okay for women


Share this Article

About the Author

Cleary Law LLC is dedicated to providing legal services for cases including but not limited to DUI, Disorderly Conduct, and Drug Possession.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *