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Help with suit for criminal trial

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    Help with suit for criminal trial

    Hey guys, I'm a long time reader of Dappered and the threads forum here. I normally post under another name but would rather not have this one in particular associated with my common user names. I know we have a lot of people here who are either practicing or going to school for law, so I thought you could be of help.

    I've found myself in a situation where I will possibly be a defendant in a criminal case. This isn't something normal for me, I've never set foot in a court room before. The charge could possibly be a fairly serious one and could lead to a trial. As I understand, I may have to appear before a judge in other regards to the case even before that. I want to present myself as best as possible.

    My price limit is around $700, I know... higher than what is normally dealt with here. I am thinking that it should probably either be a navy blue or charcoal suit, no pin stripes. This being a serious matter I don't want anything too fashion forward, but I would like something that fits well and can be used beyond this. I'm hoping you guys can help me out. I haven't owned a suit in a long time and recently lost weight, which was one of the reasons I've been holding off on picking one up.

    I'm 5' 8'' and weigh about 155. Waist is around a 33/34 (Hoping to lose a little more). My shoulders are a little soft/rounded, so a bit of shoulder padding usually helps, but nothing crazy. My only non-thrift store blazer in a Ben Sherman kings fit, which is a 38S and fit great with no alterations.

    Here are some of the suits I've considered:

    J. Crew Ludlow two-button suit jacket with double-vented back in wool herringbone $590.00

    Suit Supply Sienna (Maybe too blue) $639.00

    Brooks Brothers Madison Saxxon™ Plaid 1818 Suit $658.00 372&Product_Id=1547247&Parent_Id=305&default_color =BROWN&sort_by=&sectioncolor=&sectionsize=38%20Sho rt

    I have tried IndoChino once and was not happy with the results. I will also need to use this suit at an up coming wedding, but my legal matters are precedent.

    I've tried googling appropriate court attire but haven't had anything as informative as a Dappered-esque post. Most people seem to agree that sunday best or what you would wear to a job interview is appropriate. I assume that it would be proper to wear a white or light blue dress shirt with the suit. My favorite tie is a solid navy, knit silk tie. Would it be more appropriate to wear a plain or rep tie for court? Would you wear a pocket square or is that too flashy? My intent is to show that I am taking this matter very seriously (which I am) but not a snob or show off.

    Thanks guys, I appreciate all the advice this site & the Threads forum have to offer. It is the first website I check in the morning with my coffee.

    - Felix


    I think your instincts are correct. I would probably go with plain charcoal like the J. Crew option. I would go for the solid silk tie, but to be honest I doubt it would make any type of difference. You can wear a pocket square, but I think it would have to be white to match a white shirt.

    Here's the thing about criminal court: defendants (almost) always dress like total crap. If it's a misdemeanor, a defendant will be considered dressed up if his shirt has buttons. If it's a felony, the defendant's lawyer will make him wear an ill-fitting sack suit that the law office keeps on hand. If you listen to your Dappered instincts you'll be fine.

    Good luck!



      If the crime is embezzlement, probably best to not go in looking like a million bucks.

      Seriously, though, I would probably chose navy over grey since its not as "slick", but that's a personal choice. Stick with solid. Following the rest of the advice given around here for an interview tie (I personally burgundy) and you'll be as ready as you're going to be. Dark brown shoes are the way to go, regardless.



        BTW, Hickey Freeman suits are on sale at Last Call retail stores and throughout the day today. Better price and probably better quality than anything you listed there. Hugo Boss is also on sale, if you like them.



          I have read that blue relaxes people and gives a psychological impression of trustworthiness, which is why it is suggested for job interviews. I would therefore recommend a navy suit.



            I think you are on the right track. Going to court, I think the rules are similar for an interview: be conservative. Being in front of a judge is not a good time to make a bold fashion statement. You can't go wrong with a navy or charcoal suit and a white or light blue shirt. A striped or geometric pattern tie would be fine. A pocket square is probably fine too as long as it's not a bold color. Out of those suits listed, you'd be best going with the BB Madison, especially if you can find it in gray or navy. Way better quality than those other suits. Or, like Alan mentioned, Hickey Freeman on sale would be a good choice also.



              Well... let me throw a wrench into this advice.

              I'm a law student. My mom's a lawyer. She recently had to go to a major hearing in Delaware (we're from lil' ol' Montana). She brought a witness with her to talk about stuff, an engineer who's a pretty ordinary guy.

              Right before they left, he called her in a panic. "My wife says I have to wear a suit to go to court!" She asked him if he owned a suit. He said no. She asked him what he would wear if he were giving a major presentation to his best clients. He said he would wear his nicest cords, leather shoes, and a dress shirt. She told him to wear that to the hearing. He did. The other side had twenty lawyers and no witnesses. My mom was there with one associate and her witness. My mom's side won the hearing.

              Anyway, obviously it's not the same being a witness and a defendant (though this particular witness was more or less speaking on behalf of one of the parties), and it's not the same to be in criminal and civil law (this was a civil matter).

              I have seen a couple of criminal trials and a handful of civil hearings. One of the criminal trials was a DUI case. It was the guy's 12th DUI. At the time of trial, he had lost a bunch of weight and was wearing a nice suit. So all the photos and video evidence we saw of him were this fat guy who was swearing, drunk, abusive - while the guy we saw sitting in the courtroom was kind of mild and relatively well-kept looking. The overall effect was kind of jarring. And I don't think it worked in his favor. (The jury convicted him.) On the other hand, I've seen folks who were EXTREMELY sympathetic as witnesses and wearing more or less what the witness I described above was wearing. A couple of doctors testified wearing expensive suits. They weren't very personable but I guess they were credible simply because they were testifying as experts.

              My point is - you don't NEED to wear a suit to look credible or trustworthy, and in some cases, wearing a suit can look really affected. Wear what makes you feel comfortable, clean, and makes you look the way you look in your everyday life. Presumably you are not the sort of criminal defendant who needs to get a haircut and shave and wear long sleeves to hide a bunch of tattoos. I'm guessing you're more of an ordinary guy. Don't be afraid of embracing the fact that you will be surrounded by a bunch of scary lawyers in expensive suits who seem to know everything, while you will be an ordinary guy who isn't sure what you're doing there. You want to be respectful to the court, of course. Wear a jacket and tie if you have them. No jeans. No sneakers. But you don't need to look like the lawyers who are there.

              Also, remember that this isn't quite the same as an interview. Unless you have a bench trial (and, as a criminal defendant, that choice is basically in your hands), it's going to be the jury you need to be concerned about. They're the ones who will need to decide that you are credible and trustworthy.

              If you have an attorney and she or he advises you to wear a suit, then you'd better follow that advice. If you live somewhere that's very formal (big city), then you might want to wear a suit. But otherwise I'd recommend just looking as clean and polished as you can without going over the top.




                Nice advice @BenR... I'd say wear what makes you feel as comfortable as you can in your surroundings. You're not going to out-dress private practice attorneys (although DA's and public defenders are another matter) and if you look uncomfortable in your suit it could make you look nervous and guilty.

                If you decide to get a suit, the Hickey Freeman suggestion will be much better than any of the other options.



                  That is good advice, BenR. However, I still think dressing up is the best route. People don't think of well-dressed, competent individuals when they think of guilty criminals. Not only will a suit convey respect to the court and show that you have an appreciation of the situation, but it should almost always leave a positive impression on the jury.



                    I guess it depends on the crime, but Jon Gotty was pretty well dressed



                      I guess it depends on the crime, but Jon Gotty was pretty well dressed



                        Hans was a pretty well-dressed criminal too.




                          I am a psychologist in the Federal Prison system and have been called to testify on multiple occassions for violence (stabbings, murders, etc) that occurs inside the prison. Keep it simple with medium gray or charcoal: no patterns, no pinstrips, just a solid suit. Go with a white shirt and a black tie. I would advise against any accessories at all; no pocket square, no jewerly, nothing like that.



                            I think BenR's advice is solid. That being said, whatever you wear, make sure it's respectful of the Court. For the most part, the biggest thing you can do to piss of a judge is look like you don't take things seriously. That's why everyone says to wear a conservative suit, as it's what courtroom attire is generally considered for attorneys and is the safest route.



                              I sat on a jury recently and watched a guilty man walk. He was charged with felony possession because he had a gun in his car.

                              A number of people in the jury just couldn't see a nice looking man like him doing anything illegal. He wore a shiny grey sharkskin suit with a big poofy pocket square and black leather shoes. It was a mint outfit, and it was brought up in the case that he worked for a men's clothing store.

                              Defendants are told to dress well. If you're comfortable rocking a nuanced suit ensemble, it would be one thing. But if you're not normally in a suit, you'll be checking your pocket square, pulling on the sleeves, pulling your pant leg down, etc. You'll be silent for 95-99% of the minutes in the courtroom, so it's important that you look confident and at ease the whole time you're sitting in the chair.