As I prepare clients to see a judge, one of the most common questions I get is about appearance. Specifically, clients wish to know what they should wear to their hearings.
Two Words Tell The Tale
There are no specific rules about clothing choices. I usually suggest to clients that they should dress the way they would for church services. If that does not resonate, I suggest dressing the way you would for a job interview. I can usually boil it down to two words: Clean and Presentable.
The specific choices depend on each client. The more professional your past work was, the more likely it is you should dress as if you were headed to work in an office. But, if you used to build stone walls or work in a factory, you are probably more likely to dress a bit more casually.
You Can Go Overboard Either Port Or Starboard
It is possible to go overboard in either direction. I have had a number of male clients show up for their hearings in expensive suits and ties. I am not sure this is a good idea. Though what you have on your back should play no role in whether a judge rules for or against you, you don't want to tip the odds away from your favor.
Consider the expensive suit. Now a days, most judges dress informally. Few even bother with a black robe anymore. Some of the men don't even wear neck ties. If the claimant shows up dressed too formally, it can suggest that he is trying to put on airs. This is especially true if nothing in the claimant's work history suggests a pattern of wearing expensive suits. You also don't want the judge wondering where you got the money to buy such a nice set of clothes.
The bigger problem, however, is with people going the other direction. A lot of clients show up wearing very old and very worn clothes. For some, this is all they can afford. For those unfortunates with severe mental problems, the distinction between dressing well and dressing poorly may be a foreign concept. That said, everyone should be able to dress in clothes that are at least clean.
Don't Let Your Clothes Interfere With Your Chances of Winning
Ideally, what you are wearing to your hearing will be so inconsequential that it never becomes an issue. The best way to achieve that is to keep those two words in mind: Clean and Presentable.
As for your lawyer and his mismatching socks, well, there is only so much any of us can do.
If you have questions about this or anything else, please let me know.