How to Dress for Your North Carolina Court Date

Whether you have a pending court date for a traffic ticket or a more serious charge, what you wear to court in North Carolina matters. Court is not the place to show your individuality or express your personality; it is a place to show respect, and that means dressing appropriately. You do not know how the judge or the jury will view certain aspects of your style, so the best approach is to dress conservatively and express yourself freely after court.

When you show up to your court date, the judge, the prosecutor, and the entire courtroom will notice your appearance. Often, you will not even speak during your court appearance, so how you physically present yourself is the only impression the judge and courtroom will have of you.

What to Wear to Court

Here are some general guidelines for both men and women to follow when it comes to what to wear to court:

  • Dress Conservatively and Neatly:
    • Men should wear a long-sleeved, button-down shirt, tie, dress pants, and dress shoes. If it is cold, you can add a sweater or, if you own a suit, you can never go wrong with wearing one. Avoid jeans, sneakers, sandals, t-shirts, and anything with a logo.
    • Women should wear pants or a skirt, with a blouse or a sweater, a suit or a dress. Wear close-toed shoes in a neutral color. Avoid jeans, yoga pants, sandals, and sneakers.
    • Both men and women should wear clothes that are clean, ironed, and well-fitting. 
  • Accessories, Tattoos, and Piercings:
    • Remove all hats and sunglasses before entering the courtroom. 
    • Wear jewelry in moderation, such as small stud earrings. Remove anything flashy or distracting. Remove any non-ear piercings from your face (if possible).
    • Cover tattoos.
  • Hair & Makeup: 
    • Make sure your hair is groomed and tidy, whatever that means for you. If you have an exotic hair color such as electric blue, consider dying it back to a more natural hair color before your court appearance. 
    • For those with beards or mustaches, trim and comb them or otherwise shave the morning of your appearance. 
    • If you wear makeup, wear neutral colors and tend toward a more natural look. Keep your nails short and colorless or subdued. Just as with accessories, when it comes to hair and make-up, the less distracting, the better. 
  •  Hygiene Matters, Too: 
    • Lastly, be sure to shower and generally appear well-groomed.

Need More Guidance?

If you feel overwhelmed or confused when deciding what to wear and how to best present yourself for your court appearance, your defense attorney can guide you.

Jeremy Cotten has served clients throughout Wake, Johnston, Harnett, Orange, Sampson, Lee, and Chatham counties and is ready to meet with you to discuss your case. Give him a call or head to the main page to speak with a legal assistant 24 hours a day.