With the recent onslaught of high-profile celebrity court cases (the college admissions scandal, Cardi B and Elizabeth Holmes), courtroom fashion has sadly become an actual thing. Some of the plaintiffs, like Anna Sorokin (the young woman who posed as an heiress all the while swindling individuals and businesses out of hundreds of thousands of dollars to support her being the adult version of Eloise) are actually working with stylists and you know Cardi B, Lori Loughlin, and Felicity Huffman consulted with experts before choosing their courtroom attire.
Now hopefully none of us have a reason to be appearing in court anytime soon, but we can learn something from these public figures’ choice of apparel as there is a psychology and strategy behind these looks.
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There are actually two schools of thought. You may want to keep these sartorial choices in mind if you make a mistake at work and want to project an innocence.
Opt for white or beige
When it comes to establishing that you are not culpable, you want to lean towards colors that invoke a sense of purity so white or beige or perhaps a light gray is your friend. Sorokin took this to the extreme by not only wearing white dresses but white baby doll dresses in an attempt to literally make herself appear more childlike.
She followed the same school of thought as pre-comeback Winona Ryder’s court look back in 2002. After being accused of shoplifting $5,560.40 worth of designer clothing and accessories from the Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills, Ryder chose Marc Jacobs, amongst other designers, for a collection of the primmest and most proper designs for her days on trial.
Robin Givhan of The Washington Post wrote of the Ryder’s fashion portfolio: “Ryder favored softly flowing skirts – nothing tight or too fitted – and delicate details such as lace and embroidery. Her ensembles announced – loudly and repeatedly – her delicacy, fragility, and innocence.” Some of the pieces she wore were even a few years old which also signaled that Ryder was attempting to be frugal however Givhan noted that the clothing “Over time, however, such emphatic declarations can become off-putting and suspicious.”
Cardi B, who is on trial for her involvement in a bar brawl, opted for the color white as well but she wore it in the form of long pants and a tunic by Christian Siriano, which is more professional and invokes confidence. This is less about screaming, “I’m innocent!” and is more of a power move.
Suits for the win
Most stylists clearly tell their celebrity clients that a suit is a way to go as we saw with Holmes. She finally ditched her ripped-off-signature-black-turtleneck and pants ensemble for a light gray suit paired with a blue button down. Again opting for those lighter hues. Gray also represents tranquility and maturity.
However, both Huffman and Loughlin went with darker colors for their courtroom appearances (black and light brown respectively) though they did stick with suits. Debra F. Bogaards, a lawyer who advises clients and experts on what to wear for court, depositions, and mediations through her firm, Bogaards Law, said she advises people to wear gray, navy and brown to court to appear more honest. Now navy and brown aren’t light colors but they invoke a tone of seriousness and reliability which can be helpful after a person has made a mistake.
It also seems that you are supposed to wear glasses to appear more studious perhaps as Sorokin and Loughlin both did this for court. But there may be some merit to it as a recent study found that people with higher levels of intelligence were more likely to be nearsighted or myopic than those with lower scores.
Bogaard always tells her female clients to choose a suit, dress or cardigan and to always cover up their arms. Cleavage, short skirts, open-toed and super high shoes are all no-nos and no flashy jewelry. Just look at any outfit Lindsay Lohan wore during her years in court for what not to do as she sported shorts, tight dresses, designer clothing, jeans, platform heels and flashy jewelry on multiple occasions.
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