FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!
Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Lynne Doucette

Lynne Doucette

Lt. Lynne D. Doucette is a patrol supervisor and defensive tactics trainer with the Brunswick (Maine) PD. Prior to being the first female promoted at BPD, she worked as an undercover detective assigned to the state narcotics task force.

Patricia Teinert

Patricia Teinert

Patricia A. Teinert has been a Texas peace officer since 1984. She has served as a patrol officer, investigator, and member of a juvenile gang and narcotics task force. She is currently a patrol officer with Katy ISD Police Department.
Women in Law Enforcement

How To Dress for Success

Making the right impression during court testimony or in a job interview will help you win.

September 28, 2011  |  by Alicia Hilton - Also by this author

Photo: romanlily.
Photo: romanlily.
When you have a court appearance or a job interview, your image should project that you are trustworthy, honest, hardworking, and highly competent.

Here's a primer for how to approach wearing a suit, blouse, shoes, jewelry, makeup, and hairstyle.

The Suit: Though a pantsuit may be appropriate for some job interviews, if you're testifying in court, it's better to wear a skirt with a matching suit jacket. Keep in mind that some judges and jurors are very traditional. They believe a women should wear skirts or dresses, not pants. Save the short skirts and bare legs for nightclubs or undercover assignments. A knee-length skirt worn with nude hose is best. When you're testifying, you'll want the judge and jurors to listen to what you're saying rather than fixating on what you're wearing that they think is inappropriate.

If you don't own a suit or your suit no longer fits, you don't have to spend a lot of money to look good. The brand name is not what's important. Choose a suit that's made from good quality fabric in a weight that's appropriate for your climate so you can wear the suit year-round. Wool tends to look better and last longer than synthetics. Pick a classic color such as black, navy, or an attractive shade of gray. Avoid trendy styles such as big shoulder pads and wide lapels. If you're going to spend your hard-earned money on a suit, you don't want it to fall apart or go out of style in a few years. To save extra money, consider shopping at consignment stores. You may find a beautiful new-looking suit for a bargain.     

The Blouse: A low-cut blouse may look great when you're on a date, but it will damage your credibility if you're in court. Appropriate blouses don't have to be frumpy. For instance, a silk blouse that buttons up the back can look elegant and won't expose too much skin. Colors such as pink, aqua, turquoise, and teal help make you look friendly to the jurors and will go well with most suits. If you're going to be in court for more than a day, you'll need more than one blouse. A classic white cotton blouse or a white cotton blouse with pinstripes also make good choices.

The Shoes: High heels look sexy, but they're not the right choice for court or a job interview. Instead, wear low-heeled pumps or an attractive pair of flats. If your shoes are uncomfortable, you won't be able to concentrate.  You don't want to be thinking about how your toes are being pinched when the defense attorney is grilling you during cross examination. Plus, if you're grimacing in pain, people may think a question upsets you or that you're being deceptive. Don't wear new shoes for the first time in court or on your job interview. Wear them a few times before the trial starts, so the leather doesn't feel stiff. If your shoes are scuffed, clean them and apply shoe polish.

The Jewelry: Keep jewelry to a minimum. Wearing jewelry that's too flashy or looks too expensive will make jurors think you're corrupt. Leave your necklaces and bracelets at home. If you're going to wear earrings, select a simple style that's not too big or dangly.

The Makeup: When you testify in court, you may get nervous and sweat, even if you're telling the truth. Brush a little bit of translucent powder on your face so your skin doesn't get shiny and oily looking. If you're going to wear any other makeup, keep it natural looking. Select a lipstick that's not too dark or too shiny. Avoid bold eye shadow, clumpy mascara, and heavy eye liner.

The Hairstyle: Your hair should look clean and well groomed; go easy on the hairspray. You don't want a "helmet head" like some TV newscasters. Use a dab of an anti-frizz product so your hair doesn't get fuzzy looking if you start to sweat.  

A professional image will boost your confidence, help you to testify with authority, and help you to get the job you want.

Comments (7)

Displaying 1 - 7 of 7

AusFost1 @ 9/29/2011 6:52 PM

Absolute gold advice, Alicia! The number of young female plain clothes officers who just can't get it right! It's embarrassing: some of them look like they just left a nightclub and others look like they don't own an iron or a hairbrush! Perfect advice in this article!!!

jim @ 10/3/2011 6:18 PM

Not sure if I agree about the skirt issue. While I do think that women need to maintain their femininity, they also need to have the ability to revert to their main function in the event of a crisis, rather it be responding to an emergency as soon as they leave court or help out if something goes down in court. Not sure how practical that would be in a skirt.

Janet @ 10/4/2011 7:52 AM

All that is ok, but a well tailored pantsuit with medium heels makes a statement.

Dawn @ 3/6/2012 5:08 PM

I agree with Janet and Jim. A nice taliored pant suit with well groomed hair give that 'smart and sharp' look. I never arrested anyone in a skirt!

Dawn @ 3/6/2012 5:12 PM

By the way this article takes women in law enforcment back twenty years...sounds like we should be remanded back to the kitchen.

Kelly @ 3/6/2012 6:09 PM

Has a study actually been conducted concluding a knee-length skirt with nude hose is best?! In my opinion, when testifying the most important things are being prepared and looking professional, and a pantsuit can help that cause just fine. Those same judges and jurors who look down upon us for not wearing a skirt in court probably also believe women don't belong in the field of public safety to begin with. Ultimately, jurors are charged with deciphering fact from fiction and applying the law as the Judge provides it to them. We can come across just as credible in a smart pantsuit without having to show some leg.

Melissa @ 12/17/2014 2:08 PM

I so disagree with this article. Are you serious? What era is that from? A pant suit is professional and I can take care of any kind of business in the court whatever it may be. I want to look competent and reliable . I am asking people to take away a person's freedom. If a judge can't deal with it so be it.

Join the Discussion

POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Blog Posts

Recharging Your Batteries: The Benefits of "Unplugging"
There is certainly benefit to being current on events involving the people you consider...
Speaking on the Unspeakable: Ending the Pandemic of Police Officer Suicide
I've talked with officers who have lost a colleague to suicide—as well as many widows of...

Police Magazine