When it’s time to finalize your divorce, the way you dress for divorce court can have an impact on the outcome of your case. This isn’t to suggest that the judge won’t be as impartial as possible regardless of what you wear—it’s just to say that the judge is a human being, and humans are affected by first impressions. According to Business Insider, you only have 7 seconds to make a first impression; the Association for Pscyhological Science says first impressions can take as little as one-tenth of a second! Since no one makes a conscious judgment within that time, first impressions obviously happen subconsciously, which is why you want to look your best in order to keep your appearance from becoming an issue that subtly works against you.
What should you wear to divorce court?
Appropriate courtroom dress should convey professionalism and respect without drawing too much attention to oneself. Think of it as dressing for an important business meeting: a clean dress shirt, necktie and coat for men; a fashionable dress, skirt/blouse or business suit for women. Make sure your clothes are clean and fit you well. Wear jewelry in moderation to enhance your look without dominating it. You’re aiming for a look that represents you well while remaining conservative and neutral. You don’t want your appearance to be the “main event.”
What should you not wear to divorce court?
Avoid wearing anything that is either too casual or too distracting—a loud green suit will probably not do you any more favors in the courtroom than a pair of sweats. Below are some other examples of what not to wear:
• Jeans, tee shirts, shorts or other overly casual clothing
• Clothing that is particularly low-cut, revealing or provocative
• Noisy or gaudy jewelry (you don’t want to jangle when you walk)
• Expensive accessories (wearing that Rolex watch to court might suggest to the judge that you can afford more alimony)
• Hats or sunglasses
Additional tips for a professional look
Besides clothes and jewelry, the following tips should help enhance your first impression with the judge:
• Cover tattoos. While body art is more common nowadays, it can still convey an unwanted message in court. Wear long sleeves to cover your tattoos.
• Avoid body jewelry. Body piercings convey a message similar to tattoos, so leave the nose ring at home for today.
• Remember good hygiene. A shaven face, fresh breath and modestly applied cologne/perfume can go a long way toward a positive impression.
By coming to court well dressed, you’re sending a message that you respect the judge and take the proceedings seriously. Dressing appropriately for divorce court won’t necessarily make or break your case, it will at least ensure your appearance doesn’t get in the way.