Delaware Court’s Dress Code Sparks Controversy (?)

Casual_v_BusinessDelaware’s Kent County Superior Court has issued a new dress code (pdf) for litigants and observers.  The dress code provides that “appropriate dress” that is “consistent with the seriousness and dignity of the judicial process” will be required to gain access to the courthouse. The dress code goes on to say that attire must be “constructed and worn in such a manner that it is not unduly revealing or offensive.” 

The dress code goes on to identify certain types of clothing that are prohibited for court appearances, including:

  • Clothing that depicts swear words, violence, drugs, or alcohol use;
  • Muscle shirts or tank tops
  • Halters or bare midriffs
  • Mini Skirts (no more than 4″ above the knee when standing)
  • Hair curlers, hats, or head coverings (except those worn for religious purposes)

The Superior Court dress code seems to me to be, well, pretty easy to satisfy. Really, are we asking too much that a litigant take off his hat when he comes to court?  I’m all for casual and all for comfort; but there’s a proper place and time.

Apparently, though, requiring a party to remove his or her hair curlers prior to taking an oath of honesty is too much for some.  U.S.A. Today, no less, has picked up the story in a piece called, Judges crack down on inappropriate clothes in court.  According to the story, some worry that the dress code will result in unequal access to the courts.


If anything, the dress code improves equal treatment in the justice system.  If a litigant does not have the foresight to wear something other than a t-shirt bearing a marijuana leaf to his court hearing, then the dress code actually helps him and ensures that he doesn’t act contrary to his best interest.

I have my own opinions (and lots of them) on dress codes and attire policies–I’ve linked to a few of them below.  Our friend, John Phillips, takes a similar approach to the issue and has inked quite a few outstanding posts on the dress-code topic, as well.

Objection! Opposing Counsel Has Violated the Basic Rules of Fashion!

Firm Defines “Business Casual” (a/k/a the “Nobody Wants to See Your Chest Hair” Memo)

What Happens When You Fail to Follow Workplace Dress Codes in BigLaw

Workplace Dress Code Is Cut Short. Really, really short.

Facial Hair: Style Statement of the Unemployed

Honey, Does This Outfit Make Me Look Unethical?

NYT Says the Man-Short Is Headed to an Office Near You

“Are You My Lawyer or the Janitor?” The lawyer’s dress-code pendulum swings back.

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