I had occasion to go to Federal court this morning.  The court hears general motions for its criminal dockets on Friday mornings.  I was there early, to take care of something before the general motions started, and so I had opportunity to sit in the lobby and watch all of the people coming in.

First thing I noticed:  You can tell non-lawyers from lawyers, and you can tell new lawyers from seasoned lawyers.  It’s a given that ALL of the lawyers will be in suits.  It’s just NOT APPROPRIATE to show up in Federal court in something less than formal business attire if you are a lawyer.  That whole “officer of the court” thing and all.  You can tell the newbies because — if they’re women, they’re wearing pantyhose and sensible black pumps, and let’s be honest, probably a black interview suit — and if they’re men, they are carrying a very non-beat-up attache case and probably that same black interview suit.  I like to think I was a bit of an enigma — yes, I had on a black suit (because dove gray linen didn’t strike me as quite appropriate, and those are my only two options that fit right now), but I also had on silver and black metallic flats, a kelly green cotton tank, and most importantly, pants instead of a skirt.  (You’re crazy if you think I’m wearing hose in this weather.)  And my male cohort was wearing a dark grey suit, a flashy green striped tie, and carried only his keys.

Anyway, what we were wearing is not important.  The point is, you can quickly tell who’s who.

The second thing I noticed:  Non-lawyers….  Show some respect for the judiciary!  Each outfit I saw was worse than the next.  Now, setting aside the fact that I didn’t particularly care for the outfits themselves, I’m talking from here on out solely about the appropriateness of the attire for a FEDERAL COURTHOUSE, where, presumably either you or your family member is accused of committing a FEDERAL CRIME.

Here’s a sampling of what I saw:

  • cotton leggings with an oversized t-shirt
  • black pants with lucite heels (Mags’ refresher on lucite heels here)
  • skinny jeans and a cropped t-shirt (bare stomach! in OPEN COURT!!!)
  • flip-flops
  • cotton leggings with an undersized shirt
  • and so on….

Now look, I like leggings as much as the next woman.  (That would also include more than Mags and Idgie.)  I have a few pairs.  I get it — they’re comfy, they’re trendy.  And I also get that I am a stuffy lawyer.  But seriously — it’s Federal court!  You are on trial!  Wouldn’t it make sense to show some respect for the situation you’re in and dress properly!?  I’m not asking for a suit — especially if you don’t have one.  I don’t need you to spend more money.  But somewhere in your closet you have to have a pair of slacks, or a dress you once wore to church or to a wedding.  Presumably, at some point in your life you worked somewhere.  Even at McDonald’s the employees wear black slacks.  (Not that I go a lot or anything.)  Wear those.  I don’t care if they are polyester or worsted wool; just wear REAL PANTS.  And tuck your shirt in!  Even just a polo shirt would be fine.  Court is not the place to be a trendsetter!  I feel like I should not have to rant about this, but based on what I saw today, clearly I do.  I think I could make a serious business out of hanging outside of courthouses and instructing people on what is and is not appropriate to where to one of the most serious venues you’ll ever visit.


3 Responses to Dressing for success, especially if you are an accused criminal

  1. Idgie says:

    Judge Judy would not be impressed by those outfits.

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