What should I wear to court? Court room dress code and etiquette in Virginia.

A question we are often asked is, “what should I wear to court?”

If you find yourself in a courtroom, it is always our advice to take the extra time to wear your best.  This doesn’t mean that you have to wear a suit – but if you have one, a suit is never a bad idea.  By taking the time to dress more formally for court, you are signaling to the Court that the case you are in court for matters to you, that you are taking the case seriously and that you are showing deference to the Court itself.

Different courts have different requirements as to dress code.  The general rule is that parties should “dress appropriately”.  This is further clarified by a list of “don’ts”.  For example, in Chesterfield County the Court Dress Code & Etiquette guidelines state that shirts and shoes are required, and that the parties may not wear:

    • shorts
    • hats (excluding hats worn for religious/medical exceptions)
    • flip-flops
    • tank tops
    • mini skirts
    • cut-off jeans
    • clothing with obscene or vulgar wording or pictures.

Henrico County’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court (JDR) has taken the step to put an ordered Dress Code in place.  That order from the Court states:

“It is hereby ORDERED that all parties involved in matters before the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court of Henrico County dress in a respectful and appropriate manner, indicative of the dignity of court proceedings when entering the court building. This includes but is not limited, to the following guidelines:

  1. Midriffs/stomachs are to be covered at all times.
  2. No halter-tops, tank-tops, or muscle shirts are to be worn. Backs are to be covered at all times.
  3. No mini skirts or short-shorts allowed.
  4. With religious and medical exception, no hats, headscarves, headbands, or kerchiefs may be worn.
  5. Shoes must be worn at all times.
  6. No exposed underwear.
  7. No clothing with obscene or vulgar wording or pictures.
  8. Trousers are to be worn at the waist line and shirttails are to be tucked in.

This dress code is designed to encourage order during, and respect for, the proceedings in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. The Court expects and appreciates the full cooperation of the public and all employees with the terms of this Order. Violation of this Order shall result in refused entry, or a finding of contempt.”

These requirements will be handled by the Court, and our attorneys have seen Courts continue cases where a party has arrived in inappropriate clothing.

If you find yourself with a case in court, and have questions or would like the advice of a Virginia attorney, reach out to the lawyers of WMMLegal at (804)423.1382 or email us at info@wmmlegal.com.