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As a plaintiff, how important is what you wear to court?

Have you ever had conversations with friends or family members regarding clothing choices or whether you believe your style of clothing and appearance impacts the way others treat you? Perhaps you have even formally researched or studied the topic. Many psychology experts say that outward appearance reflects inner personality. You may be among those who say clothing should have nothing to do with how others see you or react to you. However, there is much evidence to suggest that, in fact, clothing choices do influence others' opinions.

You might be wondering why this is topic on a legal blog. Let's say you're involved in a car accident and suffer injury. You later learn that the person driving the vehicle that hit you was texting at the time. You can file a personal injury claim to seek recovery for your losses in court. As a plaintiff, your clothing choices may impact the ultimate outcome of your case. The good news is there are support resources available to help you choose wisely.

Are there clothing rules in court?

It's never a good idea to show up for court without any knowledge of regulations regarding courtroom behavior or dress. You can call ahead of time to ask about a particular court's dress code or visit the court's website online. The following tips may also be useful:

  • Cleanliness matters a lot: Lots of people like to stay in pajamas all day on occasion or lounge around without grooming your hair. While there's no harm done if you have the day off work and plan to eat popcorn, watch movies and rest, it may be a big problem if you attend a court hearing appearing slovenly or not properly groomed.
  • Do not smell of alcohol: Are you the type of person who likes to have a drink to help calm your nerves when you're under stress? You're definitely not the only one. If you are entering a courtroom as a plaintiff, however, the last thing you want is to reek of alcohol.
  • Not the time to show off tats or piercings: Many conservative judges may not take too kindly to plaintiffs or defendants who appear in court covered in tattoos or multiple body piercings. If you can cover them up or take them out, it's probably best to do so. As for ladies wearing earrings, a single pair of post earrings may be acceptable, but it's best to avoid dangling styles or large hoops.
  • Store the stilettos in the closet: As a plaintiff in a personal injury case, the burden of proof lies with you. If you expect a judge or jury to take you seriously, you'll want to present yourself in a professional manner. This is one of several reasons it is best to wear conservative, flat-heeled shoes.
  • Beach clothes are best saved for the beach: You might love your favorite pair of flip-flop sandals and enjoy wearing Jimmy Buffet t-shirts; however, court day is likely not the best time to don such attire.

Other clothing styles to avoid in court include hats, bulky items and costumes. Although you may be quite surprised, there have been incidents in the past where people try to enter courtrooms naked. This is definitely a very bad idea. Men in big cities may want to don suits and ties while those in smaller, rural communities should be fine with collared shirts, ties and blazers. Women are typically dressed acceptably for court in conservative, non-revealing clothing in basic, simple colors and textures.

An experienced personal injury attorney can advise a Pennsylvania client as to what styles of clothing tend to garner the most positive results in court.

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