I am often surprised at how casually some parties dress for court. The judge may pass sentence on you, so you need to impress him or her. A defendant should remember that the judge is a human being who will make their determinations based in part on the impression you leave, which can include how you appear and behave.

Here are some guidelines to putting your best foot forward:

1) Wear “your Sunday best.” You don’t have to be a church goer, but you should wear what is considered appropriate for that venue.

2) Nose and eyebrow rings are best removed.

3) Avoid showing too much skin. Avoid super low-cut blouses, super short skirts or muscle shirts.

4) Avoid clothes that look like you just came from the gym.

5) Avoid slouchy clothes such as sweats, cutoffs and shorts.

6) Avoid t-shirts. If you must wear one, be sure it does not contain an offensive slogan or design. A bystander in Lake County was actually jailed for contempt of court after the judge saw she was wearing an inappropriate t-shirt.

7) For men, a clean, pressed shirt with a tie and nice pair of pants can work well.

8) For women, dress as you to interview for a management position. Makeup and fingernail polish is fine but should be discreet and muted.

9) Business suits are always a good idea.

10) Hats are not allowed in court. If you want to dye your hair bright blue or pink, try to wait until after court.

11) Gang symbols are a definite red flag to the judge.

12) Do not be ostentatious. Just as you do not want to look like you’re going to the grocery store, you also don’t want to look like you spend more on shoes than the prosecutor makes in salary. Avoid flashy clothes.

While dressing right won’t insure a lenient sentence, it can go a long way to convince the judge that you deserve a break.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

For more pointers, see Plan Your Wardrobe for Court.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.).

About mdkeenan

A criminal and school law attorney with over 17 years of experience, I have successfully represented clients all over the Chicago area. My practice includes DUI, felony, criminal, misdemeanor, homicide, internet crime, retail theft, traffic offenses, cyberstalking, drug crimes, weapons violations, domestic battery and juvenile crime. I also represent families involving school cases. My clients come from all over the Chicago area including Skokie, Wilmette, Niles, Northbrook, Glenview, Evanston, Winnetka, Highland park, Northfield, Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Mount Prospect. I am a member of the ACLU and the Illinois State Bar Association. I serve as a volunteer for First Defense Legal Aid. Se habla espanol.
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