6 Tips on Dressing for Jury Duty

JURY DUTY DRESS

I know most people might find this shocking and totally disagree with me, but I love jury duty. I actually look forward to getting that white envelope with the red stripe across it telling me that I have been summoned to court. Not only do I legally get to skip out of work for a day (or longer, depending on the trial), but I find it incredibly humbling to be part of a long standing tradition and show my citizenship in a small way.

On top of the anxiety and excitement (in my case) that you’ll feel when it comes to jury duty, knowing what to wear can also be a little intimidating. However, you don’t need to let nerves get in the way of putting your best foot forward.

Below are a few suggestions for respecting the law while also respecting your sense of style:

1. Aim for business casual.

This phrase always sounds like we’re supposed to wear tights, pumps and a matching pantsuit, but we promise this is not what you need to look like. These days, “business casual” can mean so many things, but as long as you are setting a tone with your clothing that reads professionalism and responsibility, you’re good to go. (We like these high-waisted pants or this ruffled button-down).

2. Hide your shoulders.

Just like visiting an old cathedral, covering the shoulders is probably your best bet, so keep the halter-tops and tank tops at home. If you happen to wear something sleeveless, bring a jacket or blazer that you can wear inside the courtroom at all times.

3. Disguise your legs.

Although shorts are trending as something formal and super cute, they are probably still seen as too casual for the courtroom. Instead, try a circle skirt with tights, or just keep the legs covered with pants. Denim is safe as long as it’s a dark wash in blue or black.

4. No crops, please.

Yes, crop tops are everywhere you look. Yes, they are adorable and perfect for festival season, but by no means possible should we be showing any midriff while serving jury duty. This includes swimwear of any kind–even if you live in a beach town.

5. Forgo the logo.

Clothing with inappropriate graphics, logos or wording is a no-brainer. Leave it at home.

6. Keep toes inside.

There are plenty of heeled sandals that can look amazing, but to be as sharp as possible conceal your toes in boots, nice simple flats, or even a mid-height polished pump. Sandals and stilettos should stay in the closet for another time.

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of experiencing jury duty, here are some additional tips:

– Bring a magazine or book to keep you entertained.

– You are allowed to bring your laptop. The courts have wifi, and while you sit in the waiting room for your number to be called, you can continue with your daily work, browse the internet or even watch your favorite show on Hulu.

– You are also allowed to bring in snacks and a lunch. Inside the courts, there will usually be a place where you can buy food (like a snack area and a cafeteria), but it’s much cheaper to bring your own.

– They will remind you over and over (like in an airplane) that once you step inside the court room everything electronic must be turned off. However, there is always someone who thinks they put their phone on silent, and then it accidently rings. Don’t be that person. Just turn the phone off.

– If your court offers online orientation, take it. The reason? You get to come into at a later start time than everyone else who doesn’t because you’ve already completed it.

Yes, selection is held at random so you may never have the opportunity to be on a jury, but if you do, congratulations! Even if you may be less than thrilled to judge your peers, wearing a mindful courtroom ensemble will not only show respect to the court, but also make you feel calm and ready for the events that lie ahead.

Have you served on jury duty? What tips would you add?

Images via Lindsey Shorter

Cathleen is a writer, stylist and works for one of the leading fashion companies in the world. Based in Los Angeles, she and her husband enjoy quality time with friends, traveling and random dance parties.

12 COMMENTS
  • MD August 1, 2016

    Thanks for taking the time to clue us all in. I have to report this week in Los Angeles and I have never been on jury duty before. Do you know if it is allowed to bring personal items in a backpack or a purse into the courtroom, or, do they make you leave it in a jury room. If so, is the jury room safe???? I want to bring laptop, food, book etc. but I don’t want anything to come up missing at the end of the day.

    Thanks!!!

    • Cathleen August 2, 2016

      Hi MD, thanks for the comment. Yes, you are absolutely allowed to bring in personal items in Los Angeles–you have them with you the entire time, you don’t leave it anywhere. Computer and food is a must!

      • Steven September 27, 2016

        I’m jealous. Here in southeast Michigan we can’t bring anything electronic, so all you can do is read a book or newspaper for the 4 to 6 hours you spend in the waiting room, waiting to be dismissed.

  • MD August 1, 2016

    Thanks for taking the time to clue us all in. I have to report this week in Los Angeles and I have never been on jury duty before. Do you know if it is allowed to bring personal items in a backpack or a purse into the courtroom, or, do they make you leave it in a jury room. If so, is the jury room safe???? I ewant to brind laptop, food, book etc. but I don’t want anything to come up missing at the end of the day.

    Thanks!!!

  • stephanie March 13, 2016

    This is super helpful. I have my first day of jury duty tomorrow and all I can think about is Carrie Bradshaw. Well written, and now I’m on the right track for figuring out what the heck to wear! thank you!! xo

  • Anonymous February 8, 2016

    I know it said not to wear open toe shoes but I don’t have closed toes , I never get them because they hurt me . Can I wear my open toes ? Is it that bad ? I don’t want to be embarrassed

  • Stefanie B. September 23, 2015

    So glad I came across this article on my first ever jury day. So cute and well-put! Thanks! 🙂

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  • RF March 12, 2014

    I really appreciate this article. I work as a court reporter (with bailiff duties when it isn’t my trial) and jury time is often difficult for us. Please remember to come in with an open mind. You might find you actually enjoy jury duty and learn a lot from the experience. And also, it isn’t the court staff’s fault! It’s part of our judicial system. I would add that not all courts are the same. For instance, where I work, we do not have a cafeteria. Or even a pop machine. Remember to bring your own snacks. We also do not have public access wifi. This will certainly vary from state to state, even county to county. Some judges will also not allow food or drink inside the court room. It’s always wise to call in before you report and ask the staff if you have any questions about what is allowed and not allowed.

    • Cathleen March 12, 2014

      RF, thank you for this. That is an excellent point! Not all countys are the same, so reading up on your responsibilities and YOUR specific courts expectations before going in can be extremely helpful. Great tip!

  • CJ March 11, 2014

    This is great advice and I wish all jury members would aspire to this level of respect for the courts, but it’s unlikely. Showing up in dark, unadorned jeans and a clean businessy/conservative top will make you stand out as overdressed in NYC. The general attire at my jury duty in Brooklyn was stained jeans and sweatshirts.

    I will add: Bring layers. Court houses tend to be chilly, and you’ll be waiting around quite a bit.

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