A court appearance can be a challenging experience, whether you are the accused, the defendant or a witness.

For this occasion, your behavior and wardrobe should demonstrate respect for the court. They should complement your good intentions and not serve as a distraction.

When making an appearance in court, it is important to demonstrate respect, courtesy and restraint, in regard to the judge, the opposing party, the witnesses and the court personnel. Essentially, you may want to present the best version of yourself. This applies also to your wardrobe choices.  

The rules of practice of the court provide that every person present in the courtroom must be suitably dressed or suitably attired. The rules of practice do not provide specific examples or clarifications in this regard.  However, the following guidelines may be useful:

  • When dressing for court, always wear an outfit that is suitable and appropriate.
  • It is important to be discreet and one of the best ways to do so is to wear business attire and more modest and neutral clothing and colours.
  • Wear clothes that make you feel and look comfortable.
  • Make sure that your clothes are free of rips, stains and wrinkles.
  • You may wear what you would wear for a job interview or to a wedding or church. 
  • Women may wear a skirt but the length should be reasonable and not too short.
  • Consider a conservative haircut or hairstyle.
  • Clothing that is extravagant, flashy, overly informal or distracting is usually considered inappropriate.

Examples of clothing that may be considered inappropriate or extravagant include:

  • Necklines that are too exposed, fitted camisoles and skirts that are too short.
  • Shorts, sandals, shirts that are too short, helmets, hats, caps and sunglasses.

In doubt, always err on the side of caution.  Keep in mind that, it is preferable if the judge or jury focus on the legal facts and your story rather than your outfit.

Other rules of conduct in the courtroom worth mentioning include:

  • Arrive on time, and remain calm under all circumstances.
  • Turn off cell phones, pagers and other distracting electronic devices before entering the courtroom.
  • Do not bring any food or drinks in the courtroom.
  • Never chew gum.
  • Remove helmet, hat, cap and sunglasses.
  • Stand up when the judge enters and leaves the courtroom.
  • Rise and remain standing when addressing the court.
  • Do not use a cameras or cell phone to take pictures or videos when the court is in session.