How to Dress When Called for Jury Duty
In light of the upcoming Legally Blonde: The Musical coming to the Capitol Theatre in Wheeling this month, I thought I would channel my inner Elle Woods and write about dressing for jury duty. I completely understand if you’re less than thrilled to come home and find a letter in the mail calling you in for jury duty. The good news, however, is you are not alone when preparing for the big day and everything that comes with it.
Whether you are going in for the selection process or are preparing to sit through an entire trial, the first question that may pop into your mind is “What am I going to wear?” followed by “What is even appropriate attire in the court?” Luckily, I feel as though I am a good candidate to assist you in answering this question between my six years of checking in jurors in my county Common Pleas Court and my additional 20 years of being a self-proclaimed clothes hoarder.
First, you could start by calling into the court to inquire if they have a specific dress code. I have worked with a variety of judges who were pretty strict about appropriate juror apparel. I’ve also worked with judges who were just happy jurors showed up. Depending on where you live, they may have a dress code in which they discourage wearing things like open-toed shoes, jeans, or sweatpants. There are also courts that are fairly lenient. However, dress code aside, you should always plan on dressing in a way that is respectful to the courts since this is a formal setting.
The second tip would be to tell you there are things that should never be on your list of possible wardrobe options. Articles like sweatpants, hoodies, basic flip flops, revealing tops (both at the neckline or crop-styled shirts), gym clothes, graphic tees and finally pajama pants (yes – I have seen this more times than I would like to admit). Again, because of the nature of being called for jury duty, it is no shock these clothes items are not appropriate for court. Think of dressing for court the same way you would want to dress for a professional job interview!
OK, so by now you are probably thinking to yourself “Well, what CAN I wear?” Some good options for men include khaki pants or dress pants with a polo or button-down shirt. Ties for men are usually a point of preference so, by all means, have fun dressing it up! Now, for the ladies, you can’t go wrong with a comfortable dress (length and cut should be appropriate), sensible flats or high heels, a pant suit, dress pants with a seasonal blouse, or even a longer skirt also paired with a nice blouse. On the topic of leggings — since they have been so popular for the last decade — I would discourage you from wearing them to court. It isn’t, however, necessarily on our list of what not to wear. If that is what you have, you can always dress your outfit up with a pair of boots, heeled boots, or even heels. Just be sure to wear an appropriate top that comes down long enough to cover your backside. When all else fails, at the very least, you should dress in a business casual type fashion.
A good idea before such big events is trying on the outfit to see how it feels. If selected as a juror, you will have to sit for many hours and you want to make sure you are as comfortable as you are confident! Make sure you have a comfortable pair of shoes and that none of your clothes are digging in anywhere. Make your clothes weather appropriate. Is this a material you know you get hot in easily because it doesn’t breathe well? Are your pants a little snug when sitting ever since someone dried them a little too long?
Whether you are proud to serve on a jury and are excited to follow through with your civic duty or if you are dreading it and begging not to be picked, the above tips will at least help take some of the worrisome load off your shoulders.