If you have taken the time to search the internet for “how to dress for a deposition,” then you are likely already half-way there to getting it right.
There are cultural and regional variations to this advice, of course. In the bible belt, a lawyer often tells his client to dress as though they are going to church. That may be good advice, but here in Arizona we have a lot of casual churches that accept golf shorts and jeans as acceptable attire.
The best advice I can give is to dress to impress your audience. The people you will see at a deposition include attorneys, sometimes an adjuster, the court reporter and possibly the opposing party or, if the opposing party is a corporation, a representative of theirs. If your deposition will be videotaped, which your attorney should advise you of in advance, there will also be a videographer and a camera.
While you must strive to be polite to everyone in the room, you are not trying to impress the court reporter or videographer. You want the attorneys and others in the room to have a good impression of you. Most often, that means going with a conservative appearance.
If you work at an office with a “business casual” dress code, then your wardrobe already contains what you likely need to look good. For men, a suit and tie would be good. For women, a suit, dress, slacks and a blazer or similar clothes would work.
But here’s the extra trick: go one more. If you are wearing a skirt suit, for instance, wear pantyhose, heels and a scarf or a brooch or a substantial piece of jewelry. If you are wearing a dress, make it a little more elegant with a sweater , jacket or shrug and heels. Try to take whatever outfit you think works well and add one more piece to the mix. If your lawyer doesn’t care for it, he or she can gently advise you to remove it before the deposition; but you won’t be able to add anything after you’ve arrived.
Avoid super bright colors – which give off a happy vibe that may contrast with the somber testimony you will be providing. But do wear colors that look good on you and that make you feel comfortable and confident.
You can also treat your deposition preparation session as a dress rehearsal. Wear what you are planning to wear to the deposition and check in with your lawyer to see if you are hitting the right tone.
Although it technically doesn’t fall into the category of wardrobe, I should make a passing note about piercings and tattoos. If you have tattoos that can be easily hidden with your wardrobe, do it. If you have extra piercings (beyond one hole per ear)that can be removed and replaced after the deposition, do it. If you have large gauge piercings that cannot be hidden, try to wear the most benign piece of jewelry you can find – think hider plug rather than tapers or spirals.
Finally, even if you have to do it only temporarily, you are best off having a hair color that is typically found in nature. It doesn’t have to be your natural color, but should be a natural tone. If you are unable to modify an unusual hair color, style it in the most conservative way possible.
Remember that the attorney deposing you and the adjuster, if there is one, are the people deciding whether and how much of an offer to make. They will base that opinion, in part, on whether they think a jury will like and respect you and want to award you money. Time and again, I’ve heard jurors complain “why didn’t she dress up?” and “didn’t he realize he was coming to court?”. Jeans and t-shirts may work in your everyday life, but depositions are a court proceeding that take place outside a courtroom and they require some extra wardrobe attention.
Star Client Tip #6: Ask lots of questions. If you aren’t sure how to dress for your deposition, ask your lawyer or her staff to help you.