If you have a scheduled court date for a child custody case, it’s important to remember that the way you dress will make either a positive or negative impression on the judge—immediately. Wearing jeans, open-toed shoes, or sweatpants will undoubtedly be frowned upon. You may even be reprimanded by the judge if you’re dressed in an inappropriate manner. These tips will assist you in getting dressed without needing to stress.

Be practical and fashionable

When you and your attorney step before the judge, you don’t want to be wearing overly fashionable attire. It’s not a dinner date, after all. You want to wear something a reliable mom would wear to a school PTA meeting—both practical and fashionable at the same time.

Opting for a white skirt, a solid colored button-up blouse, and a pair of heels (not too high!) will show the judge you’re trying to be respectful. They tend to take your outfit very seriously in family court. Some courthouses may even forbid specific articles of clothing. Your best bet is checking out White House Black Market’s selection of clothing for modern women. You will find an outfit that suits your figure and impresses the judges.

Dress comfortably, but not too comfortably

The probability of you sitting on hardwood, church-like pews inside of the court’s waiting room for several hours is very high. When you’re shopping, you will want to add comfort to your checklist. Remember, comfortable, practical, and fashionable.

Child custody cases are stressful enough as it is. Tension runs high and often arguments will ensue between ex-husbands and wives. If you’re already enduring emotional discomfort, you might as well be physically comfortable throughout the remainder of the day.

When in doubt, ask your lawyer

You already know that you want the judge to like and trust you as a person. But you’re not certain if he will hold you in high regard without an appropriate outfit. Every court is different. And some judges are more lenient than others. Your lawyer will know best.

Prior to your scheduled court date, you may want to ask your lawyer what kind of outfit you should wear. You’ve hired a lawyer to fight for custody, why not use the included legal resources to your advantage here? Ask as many questions as you need to—just be sure that you aren’t being billed by the hour. Your lawyer has likely crossed paths many times with the judge who will be ruling your case. He will know what kind of clothing will be deemed as appropriate.

What about men?

Yes, we know we have focused a lot on what women should wear. Now it’s your time to shine. For men going to the family court for a child custody hearing, you’ll want to know what regulations the court has for clothing.

You will want to look clean, polished, and professional. The judge will show you respect when you dress respectably. You should wear a dark suit, a white collared shirt beneath, a tie (no flamingos or crazy patterns,) and dress shoes that match.

Make sure your tattoos and piercings are hidden

The judge may have a heart attack if you walk inside the courtroom with uncovered tattoos and facial piercings. Even ordinary pierced ears should only have small studs—no hoops. If it’s possible to conceal your tattoos for the day, doing so is highly suggested. And for piercings, just take them out beforehand and you can put them back in when you return home. We live in a modern world but most courthouses appreciate old-fashioned etiquette.

Research shows that humans form impressions of other humans in less than one second. In fact, one-tenth of a second. This is something you should bear in mind before leaving your house for court. Clothing, good hygiene, combed hair, and naturally applied makeup (for the ladies) will get you bonus points. Dress to impress.