Thursday 12 December 2019

Can smart style swing a verdict when in court?

Inspired by Oscar Pistorious' glasses, Deirdre Reynolds examines celebrities' sartorial tactics when running the courtroom gauntlet

Nigella Lawson
Nigella Lawson
Oscar Pistorius on his way to court
OJ Simpson
Lyndsay Lohan
Lohan's Nails
Martha Stewart

Deirdre Reynolds

The tweets - a long, long stream of them - were unequivicol: "I have a U2 album on my phone and I don't know how to got there and I can't get rid of it!" "Why is there a U2 album on my

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius is set to learn his fate as this week draws to and end, as his six-month murder trial comes to a close.

The 27 year-old athlete denies the premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 29, whom he shot and killed on Valentine's Day last year.

Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa will shortly rule whether or not the South African sports star is guilty of the charge, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years.

Certainly throughout the televised trial, Pistorius has meant business in a series of increasingly sombre suits and, more recently, glasses.

In the court of public opinion, it's a tactic that doesn't always work says fashion psychologist Kate Nightingale: "Dressing for court is unlike any other occasion - you have to instantly persuade the judge or jury that you are just not the type of person to have committed this crime.

"Usually lawyers will tell their client to wear a black or navy suit or dress, nothing too revealing, to show that they are reliable and trustworthy.

"The problem for celebrities is that people think they already know them, so trying to look all saintly doesn't necessarily work in this instance."

From Nigella Lawson's funereal garb to Michael Jackson's military uniforms however, Pistorius isn't the first celebrity to attempt to dress to impress in court.

Here we look at some of the most memorable courtroom looks ever.

Lindsay Lohan

Ever since entering the United States criminal justice system in 2007, Lindsay Lohan has built up an impressive wardrobe of judicial attire. For the most part, the 28 year-old has stuck to squeaky clean pale pant suits and frocks while battling various road traffic raps including driving under the influence. But her most controversial courtroom look was during a probation hearing in 2010 when the embattled actress rocked up with a manicure reading 'F*** U'. "It had nothing to do w/court," she later played down on Twitter. "It's a airbrush design from a stencil." Save it for the judge, Li-Lo.

Martha Stewart

If there are two things you probably shouldn't wear while standing accused of insider trading, it's a designer handbag and fur coat. So it's no surprise that domestic-goddess-slash-convicted-felon Martha Stewart's showy attire during her 2004 trial rubbed so many commentators up the wrong way. Draped in a mink stole and incredibly expensive Hermes Birkin bag, the 73 year-old looked every inch of her estimated $970 million fortune at a federal courthouse in New York. Walking free from prison five months later, Stewart cut an altogether more repentant dash in a poncho made by a fellow inmate, revealing: "The night before I left, she handed it to me and said, 'Wear it in good health'."

Michael Jackson

Leave it to the late King of Pop to take dressing for court to theatrical new heights. Jackson reportedly had a new waistcoat and military jacket custom-made for every day of his fourteen-week 2005 child molestation trial. A jury of eight women and four men eventually cleared the singer of all charges of molestation, attempted molestation and plying minors with liquor. But the image of the usually immaculately presented star turning up to court in his pyjamas and a borrowed sports jacket after sleeping in lives on in pop culture infamy.

Nigella Lawson

As a TV chef, she's known for her Botticelli-esque curves and seductive presenting style. Testifying against her two former personal assistants last year however, Nigella Lawson favoured a look that was all board-room - not bedroom. Even as she confessed to snorting cocaine, the 54 year-old was the picture of respectability in a long, black Julien Macdonald coat and knee-high boots, completing her courtroom chic makeover with perfect hair and make-up. Former X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos later did a Nigella by striding into court in sky-high heels and full war paint. Her drugs charge was later thrown out.

O.J. Simpson

While on trial for his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson's murder in 1995, O.J. Simpson certainly dressed to impress in smart two-piece suits and statement ties. But it was another item of clothing that swung the entire case: the infamous leather gloves found at the murder scene. During the televised trial's most dramatic moment, the former football player memorably tried on the accessory, with lawyer Johnny Cochrane instructing the jury of ten women and two men that they "must acquit" when they didn't fit. Eight months later, acquit they did, with prosecutors later alleging that Simpson's defence may have tampered with the glove.

Cheryl Fernandez-VersinI

Back when she was still Cheryl Tweedy, the new Mrs Fernandez-Versini was found guilty of assaulting a nightclub toilet attendant, and sentenced to 120 hours of community service. Appearing at Guildford Crown Court however, it was the singer's teenybopper getup of a pink shirt and matching jacket, jeans and sunglasses that really grabbed the attention of the fashion police. From nightclub brawler to Britain's national sweetheart, these days the 31 year-old is the one doing the judging on The X Factor, showing just how far she's come, sartorially and otherwise.

Winona Ryder

Hollywood was left reeling when Winona Ryder was arrested for stealing more than $5,500 worth of designer swag from Saks Fifth Avenue in 2001. The Black Swan star subsequently brought a hint of the the red carpet to the courtroom in a series of sheer frocks and blouses during her six-day trial for two felony charges, grand theft and vandalism. Unfortunately, her defence was as see-through as some of her outfits, and she was found guilty on both counts, escaping jail time with 480 hours of community service, a $10,000 fine, and a tarnished reputation.

Irish Independent

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