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Dress Rules Too Follow When You Are At Trial

To win a personal injury case you must tone down your clothes and dress conservatively.  Do not dress powerfully or expensively. The more powerful you look the less a jury will help you!  However, you must still dress your part.  If you’re a GEICO claims adjuster, who was always against lawsuits until you got injured, you should dress a little more powerfully than a client who is a mechanic.  But, what does it mean to dress “powerfully.” Let’s set out some clear rules:

First, recognize that clothes actually have a POWER RANKING.

  1. Dark colors are more powerful than light colors.
  2. Solid colors are more powerful than prints.
  3. Powerful patterns and dotted ties are more powerful than ties with cartoon characters or lighter themes.
  4. White shirts are more powerful than colored shirts.
  5. Suits for women are more powerful than dresses.
  6. Three-piece suits for men are more powerful than two-piece suits but may be too formal or too powerful for court, depending on the style of the day and the jurisdiction.
  7. Two-piece suits are more powerful than a sports jacket and matching or opposite slacks.
  8. Laced shoes are more powerful than slip-on shoes like penny loafers.
  9. Slacks are more powerful than Jeans.
  10. Button-down dress shirts is more powerful than sports shirts.
  11. Cuffs and/or embroidered initials are more powerful than plain shirts with buttons and/or no embroidered initials.

Also, keep the following things in mind:

There is a difference between being a “powerful” dresser and being a “strong” dresser.  Strong can be cowboy boots, but it isn’t powerful in court.  Worse yet…strong will usually get less money for pain and suffering than weak will.

Never dress completely off the power scale.  For example, tee shirts are off the power scale. Tennis shoes are off the power scale but may be used IF medically necessary.  Flip flop shoes are off the power scale.  High-heeled shoes may be too powerful, like cowboy boots and discredit the plaintiff.

The key is to look normal.  Look like an ordinary person.  Do not try and be glamorous.

For women, wearing long sleeves and a higher neckline is better.  Short sleeves and a low-cut blouse are not what a juror wants to see as the plaintiff.

Dresses with a hemline below the knees are better than a dress with a short hem.

Clear nail polish beats colored nail polish, just as short-cut nails are better than long manicured nails.

The GOLD RULE of Dressing:   The more gold you wear, the less gold you’re awarded.  So take off the Rolex, and wear a Timex watch.  Take out obnoxious earrings and any odd piercings. Cover your tattoos. Cut your hair so it is neat.

I know many clients who have protested these rules.  They are convinced that this advice is wrong.  They will say to me:  “I must be me, or it is not authentic!”  I had a man with spiked neo-Nazi bleached hair, muscular as a professional bodybuilder, tattoos all over his body, including swastikas and a depiction of hell, tell me he couldn’t hide who he was from the jury.  I forced him to cover up, dye his hair back to its natural color, and soften his body by dressing in loose clothes to not accentuate his muscularity.  Thankfully he listened and he was awarded a significant jury verdict.

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