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Guy Court Attire 101: Neckties or Bow Ties?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Courtroom attire is, like any field of fashion, evolving. And depending on the hipness of your locale, you may be able to ride the bleeding edge of fashion while in court.

And while bow ties are currently riding a Wes Anderson-sized wave of nostalgia-based popularity, here is our definitive guide to this court fashion question:

Neckties or bow ties?

Neckties (i.e., a 'Normal Tie')

Old timey gender-based fashion expectations are at an all time high in most courtrooms, and many attorneys choose to mesh with these expectations rather than stick out like a sore thumb.

Yes, this fashion approach may play into gender norms about dress which are entirely outdated and ridiculous. But it's important for litigators that judges and jurors are able to focus on the content of their arguments -- and not their sartorial choices.

For male attorneys, this means wear a tie. You do not want to have a judge ask "Where is your attorney?" because you walked into court looking like Aaron Hernandez.

Neckties are a great way for male litigators to personalize an otherwise drab and conservative look with different colors and patterns, but remember these simple rules about neckties:

  • Keep it snug. You don't need to choke yourself, but make sure your tie is tight enough to cover top button of your shirt.
  • Keep it simple. Save your "Raider Nation" and Marvin the Martian ties for the office, stick with simple, complimentary patterns in court.
  • Keep it long. A necktie should hang so that the tip just covers the top of your belt (and you better be wearing a belt!).

There are a variety of ways to tie a necktie, but for most ties and styles, a half-Windsor is an easy default.

Bow Ties (i.e., the 'Hipster Tie')

As the bow tie business booms, many hip or younger attorneys may be donning the ties of their grandfathers -- the bow tie.

A bow tie can make a very professional look, but you should consider the following potential charges from the fashion police before donning one:

  • A flat black bowtie with a white shirt can make you seem like you're at a wedding or banquet, and not in court.
  • You may look like Tucker Carlson. (Depending on your politics, this could be a bad or a good thing.)
  • A bow tie might give you a highfalutin air that may alienate those less urbane jurors.

If you do choose to wear one, stick with neutral colors like dark browns and navy's and avoid anything that spins. Also, keep it tied properly; the courtroom is not the last 15 minutes of a telethon.

Whether you wear a necktie or bow tie to court, just make sure that you wear one -- and properly.

Got a preference for neck or bowties? Let us know on Facebook.

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