Independent Thinking: Costuming for The Courtroom

May 18, 2012

Small Law: Independent Thinking

“Who said that clothes make a statement?  What an understatement that was.  Clothes never shut up.”

– Susan Brownmiller

Katherine James continues publish excellent articles to educate attorneys on live communication skills, and prepare their witnesses and experts to appear in court.  I’d like to share one of Katherine’s articles, entitled “Costuming for the Courtroom.”  In this colorful piece she addresses the issues of WHAT NOT TO WEAR to court.  Katherine teaches attorneys, experts and your clients how to “costume” just as a designer would, to help better tell the courtroom who a person is–and what a person’s character is made of.

I know this seems so elementary, but when you read her stories and hear of her experiences, you can see why this is so essential.  Here is a short clip from her article:

 “Oh my God, she looks terrible!  Can you help me make her not look like a hooker?”  If I had a dollar for every time an attorney said that to me.  Or how about, “He says all he owns are T-shirts and cut offs – and he thinks that’s what he should wear to court.  Help!” 

Then, of course, there is the opposite but equally frightening comment, “I told him to wear a blue suit, white shirt and red tie – after all, I’ve worn the same blue suit to court for the last 25 years and I always have all my clients dress just like I do.”

How do these comments come to me?  I have been a trial consultant for the past 30 years specializing in live communication skills for attorneys and their witnesses.  But more significantly, I am the first trial consultant to apply theatre to the law.  And as such, I am asked to make “courtroom costuming” comments on a daily basis.

As a reader you will take away tips on color, style, fit, fabric and “persuasive” costuming.  She also tackles the issues of judgments, misconceptions and credibility that commonly happen as a result of  poor costuming. One may not realize the significant effect something so basic has on the jurors, judge etc…  Whether you are preparing for a trial, a job interview or meeting the future in-laws, she offers some useful pointers.


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