Dressed to Win A Case – Presenting The Art of Jury-Ready Sartorial Choices
Fashion industry and society alike grapple nonstop with the notion of fashionable dress – what it looks like and the significance it can wield. Often adhering to what is in fashion lends a layer of respectability to the wearer. Today, our daily clothing continues to deconstruct: gender binaries with regards to clothing are explored and broken, and loose, frayed garments are greeted with admiration for what is regarded as a singularly-focused dedication to one’s craft as opposed to uncertain financial circumstances (although it’s novel to pair the two together). And yet, there is a place where seemingly old-school norms for fashionable dress continue to be firmly held in place: the court.
When stepping up to the judge’s bench alongside their lawyer, those appearing to state their case are seldom caught in trendy oversized sweats or snug flares in snake print. Attendees are clothed in a puritanical sense – simple, tailored cuts with minimal embellishment. It makes sense of course – probably for the best not so show up swathed in crystals if you’ve been charged with embezzlement or fraud.
Studies have shown that a person’s overall attractiveness can be remarkably altered by what they are wearing. And with attractiveness, as vague and broad as the term can be, comes a perceived higher degree of intelligence, and morality. Those with the means to do so will go so far as hiring a court stylist to nail down the best outfit that says: “I’m a good person.” Paris Hilton arrived to her 2006 court hearing for cocaine possession dressed in a satin white top with modest, three-quarter length sleeves that were a far cry from her low-slung mini skirts and midriff-baring tanks.
In 2012, navy suit-clad model Linda Evangelista was seen strutting confidently out of a New York family court. The mother had just signed papers that would settle a year-long child support case involving her ex, Kering chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault. The cream button-up layered underneath a power-shouldered blazer was left conservatively buttoned from the chest down signifying a balanced mix of ease and toughened determination. She came, she saw, she conquered.
For one of the most talked about trials this year, Anna Delvey-Sorokin dubbed the “Fake Heiress” enlisted celebrity stylist Anastasia Nicole Walker to select outfits for her court dates at the request of her lawyer. Prior to trial the judge ordered she be changed out of the beige Riker’s Island prison uniform so as to not negatively influence juror opinion during the jury selection process.
And just last week, more-is-more rapper Belcalis Almánzar aka Cardi B arrived to a hearing regarding her alleged role in a gentlemen’s club brawl that took place last fall in a stunning white two-piece by Christian Siriano. Starch palazzo pants fell just above the ground, while her arms were left bare underneath a crisp turtleneck. The outfit could have easily been worn for a stroll on the beach or along the Champs-Élysées. What it communicated was a sense of calm grounded in the virtuous connotations the colour white has historically carried with it. Perfect attire for rejecting a plea deal.
Garments traditionally worn in the office, like the suit, and a muted colour palette continue to be the de facto rule for court room styling. Likely it has to do with the aforementioned attired being oft associated with professional workwear. It’s not worn in leisure, it’s the zipped up and buttoned in signal for being ready to put in the time to get the task done. Of course, in court the task is usually to avoid having to do the time at all.