Lindsay Lohan is scheduled for another court appearance today, this time for lying to the police about a car accident. (Update:No show!) Over the years, Lohan’s days in court have evolved into must-watch Hollywood events, a miniature Academy Awards for rule-breaking. And, following Hollywood tradition, there is a red carpet: Lohan’s endlessly analyzed court outfits have become their own grim genre.
What celebrities wear to court can have a great deal of meaning. Will they abandon sexiness and signature eccentricities in the name of projecting responsibility? Will they flout authority with tiny “Fuck U” messages? From Jacko’s waistcoats to LiLo’s defiant manicure, these images, be they genuine or contrived, can define how the public processes the celebrity’s redemption.
Historically, the courtroom wardrobes of high-profile people have carried meaning, too. Joan of Arc’s masculine clothing played a role in her demise. Mary, Queen of Scots’ decision to wear the colors of a Catholic martyr announced the role she wanted to play in history. To the famous, court is a place where reputations can be saved and personalities reborn. Though the law requires a certain sober respectfulness, the pressure of a court date can force statement-making style to new heights. To appear in court, after all, is to present oneself for judgment, to be seen. Everyone, and their manicures, gets their day in court. Click ahead for 34 high-profile people, past and present, whose fashion choices made a splash in court.
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Joan of Arc
Poor Joan of Arc. No matter what you think of the clairvoyant warrior teen of fifteenth-century France (Did she really hear the voice of God? Did she really shoo prostitutes away from soldiers with her sword?), the sad truth is, she was executed mostly because of her wardrobe. Joan went through several trials, and at the conclusion of one, she promised to stop hearing voices and wearing “male clothing.” However, she resumed wearing male clothing while incarcerated (possibly to avoid the risk of sexual assault), claiming it was more "lawful and convenient." She was then judged a “relapsed heretic” and was executed. Pius II, a pope famous for his best-selling romance novels (true story), later reflected on Joan's legacy and said he "found nothing reprehensible in her, save her wearing men's clothing." Centuries later, her hairdo would inspire France’s first bob haircuts.
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When Martha Stewart was brought to trial for insider trading (or, arguably, as a victim to a misogynistic plot), her wardrobe raised eyebrows for drawing attention to her net worth. Among the offending items: a mink neck stole and a Birkin bag. When she left prison, Martha wore a poncho made for her by a fellow inmate: "The night before I left, she handed it to me and said, 'Wear it in good health,'" Stewart said.
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Lindsay Lohan's courtroom outfits are as multitudinous as her troubles with the law. She first encountered the criminal justice system in 2007, and her appearances in court have continued at regular intervals until this very day. Generally, Lohan has favored a sort of louche seventies conservativism for her judicial attire, i.e. pantsuits with the occasional bell-bottom. Her most controversial fashion statement has probably been on her nails, specifically the “Fuck U” manicure she displayed at a probation hearing in 2010. Lohan claimed the manicure was entirely unintentional, "Didn't we do our nails as a joke with our friend?" she tweeted to a friend. "It had nothing to do w/court ... it's an airbrush design from a stencil."
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During her imprisonment during the French Revolution, the deposed queen Marie Antoinette wore one dress, a black mourning gown, for six months straight and in defiance of a ban on black, “a color symbolic of monarchist sympathies.” When she was finally tried for an array of charges including a "vindictive glance" and the sexual abuse of her son, she arrived in that tattered dress, causing one courtroom guard to note, “her long black dress rendered her extraordinary pallor all the more striking.” After her tragic appearance and impassioned testimony culled courtroom sympathy, a mid-supper Robespierre reportedly “broke his plate with rage.” For her execution, she managed to acquire a pristine white dress and matching accessories.
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While on trial for his wife's murder, former football player O.J. Simpson dressed in a business-like fashion, favoring suits and graphic ties. His defense rested on an accessory: the infamous leather gloves found at the murder scene that did not fit, so in the words of lawyer Johnny Cochrane, jurors “must acquit.” (Note how Simpson matched his tie to the glove on the day he tried it on.) And acquit the jurors did. Later, prosecutors alleged that Simpson's defense tampered with the glove.
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In 2002, Winona Ryder walked into a Saks Fifth Avenue with "more pain medication in her purse than would be given to a person with a terminal disease'' and stole several thousand dollars of merchandise. She was tried for grand theft and vandalism. Blazing the trail for future Lohans and Hiltons, Ryder wore see-through clothing to her court dates, as well as headbands, twin-sets, and a transparent sweater. She escaped the trial with no jail time, just probation and a fine. Ryder later blamed the episode on a "quack" doctor who gave her pills for a broken arm. "I didn’t have this tremendous sense of guilt, because I hadn’t hurt anyone," Ryder later told Vogue. "Had I physically harmed someone or caused harm to a human being, I think it would have been an entirely different experience.”
In 1895, Oscar Wilde went to court for the first time, to sue the Marquess of Queensberry for libel. The Marquess — famous for inventing the Queensberry Rules of boxing and for having "deformed" genitals, according to his second wife — had sent a calling card marked "For Oscar Wilde, posing Somdomite” to Wilde’s club. The Marquess’s youngest son, Lord Alfred Douglas, was rumored to be Wilde's lover. To defend himself, the Marquess compiled evidence to prove that the famous author was, in fact, gay — evidence that would later be used to jail Wilde. At that first trial, however, Wilde was defiant, uttering witty rejoiners ("I do not know what the Queensberry rules are, but the Oscar Wilde rule is to shoot at sight," he said during examination) and dressing stylishly. According to contemporary accounts Wilde wore "a fashionable coat with a flower in his buttonhole."
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Like some exceedingly vain officer of the Royal Navy in 1795, the late Michael Jackson had a new waistcoat and military jacket custom-made for him every single day of his 2005 molestation trial. Reportedly, Jackson looked to magazines for inspiration for his courtroom outfits, telling his tailors, "This is what the world's wearing. Top it."
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Leopold and Loeb
Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb — ages 18 and 19, handsome, brilliant, and privileged — murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks for little more than sport in 1924. Obsessed with Nietzsche, the duo — who were an accomplished ornithologist and the youngest graduate of the University of Michigan, respectively — claimed they became convinced that their mental superiority would allow them to commit “the perfect crime.” Their trial commanded intense tabloid fascination. Clarence Darrow’s Nietzsche defense (and twelve-hour closing argument) saved the boys from execution. During their ordeal, Leopold and Loeb kept slightly apart from the fray, favoring impeccably cut suits and severe haircuts for the duration of the trial.
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Mary Queen of Scots
Mary Queen of Scots lived an eventful life. Her first husband died of an ear infection; her second husband murdered her secretary in front of her while she was pregnant before he, himself, was murdered; and her third husband is believed to be the "principal murderer" of the second. After a rebellion in Scotland, Mary escaped to England, where she was jailed for nineteen years and eventually sentenced to death. A fashionable woman, Mary appeared at her trial “dressed in a black velvet gown and a white cambric cap and veil.” When she was executed, historian Jenny Wormald writes, she went "to her death with serene confidence, clothed in red, the liturgical colour of martyrdom. It was, finally, as a Catholic martyr that she saw herself." Unfortunately, her hairdo caused a macabre spectacle: “The executioner botched his job [...] picking up the head to display it according to accepted ritual, only to find that what he was holding was a wig, while the head itself dropped from his hands.”
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Alice de Janzé
After her lover Raymund de Trafford told her he could never marry her because of his Catholic faith, socialite Alice de Janzé shot him in a Parisian train station in March of 1927. Trafford survived, and Janzé was tried for his attempted murder. An American heiress who married into the French aristocracy before moving to Kenya, Janzé often carried a pet monkey on the shoulder of her stylish deco outfits. In court, she skipped the monkey and stuck to cloche hats. The courts gave Janze a six-month suspended sentence and rebuked Trafford for deserting her. The duo later married — then divorced three months later.
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Naomi Campbell has certainly had her run-ins with the law. She has been accused of assaulting employees ten times; in 2007, she was sentenced to community service for throwing a phone at a maid. (These photos show what she wore to court dates for that matter.) She was also arrested for punching and spitting at police during a Heathrow Airport baggage dispute. In 2010, she testified in the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, during which she was asked, "Are you a boastful person?" To which she rejoined, "Not really."
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On trial for the murder of their parents, Lyle and Erik Menendez stayed close to their roots, style-wise, sporting preppy oxfords and luxe sweaters as befits young men from Princeton, New Jersey. Sentenced to life in prison without parole in 1996, the brothers’ lives have not been all downhill since. Both brothers are married to non-imprisoned women. Lyle, in fact, has married twice.
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Salem Witch Trials
One of the largest episodes of American mass hysteria, Salem's witch trials would ultimately trigger the execution of twenty people. The evidence against Bridget Bishop included testimony from the local dyer, who said she that she had brought him “sundry pieces of lace” to dye red. Some have taken this to mean that Bishop’s fondness for the color was, to Puritan eyes, flashy to the point of evil; others say ensuing testimony about the lace being “ so short that I could not judge them fit for any use” implied that Bishop was dressing voodoo dolls. Either way, Salem did seem a dull and cosseted town prior to the trials. Women generally owned only a few sets of high-confining clothing, usually consisting of "a bodice ... usually laced very tightly. Under the bodice … a linen shift. They wear several layers of petticoats, or underskirts."
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In the fifties, Confidential Magazine was the scandal rag everyone feared. It tried to out Marlene Dietrich and Van Johnson, and described actor Robert Mitchum stripping during a dinner party and “sprinkling” his genitals with ketchup. Eventually, celebrities banded together to sue the magazine for libel — causing Confidential to counter-sue, daring stars to prove their stories false. Carmen actress Dorothy Dandridge made her case in a smart beige suit, corsage, and pearls. To disprove a rumor that she hooked up with white bandleader Dan Terry in the woods of a Lake Tahoe resort, the black actress described the racism of her time. Lake Tahoe was too "prejudiced," she said, for a mixed-race couple to walk arm-in-arm. "Negroes were not permitted that freedom," she testified. The case was eventually settled, sparing stars like Frank Sinatra from testifying.
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Clinton Impeachment (Monica and Bill)
Monica Lewinsky did not appear in the flesh for Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, but did offer video testimony about her racy interactions with the president. (Including the time she touched the president's crotch outside Radio City Music Hall.) She wore a staid suit to tell her story, hair fluffed around her face with enviable volume. Bill wore a red tie on the day he denied their affair — evoking, perhaps, a scarlet letter?
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Hilton has had her tangles with the law, including a guilty plea on drug charges, no contest on a DUI, a sentence to 45 days in jail for violating a driving probation, and a litany of lawsuits. She has worn a series of Vegas-y, yet somehow business-like, outfits to defend herself, including a lovely black cocktail dress. Her legal woes have done little to slow her growing empire. Fun fact: Her perfume empire has earned $1.5 billion in revenue to date.
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Only a year after Ritchie penned seminal literary tome The Truth About Diamonds, she was busted for a DUI on California freeway, just like her Diamonds alter ego Chloe Parker. For her court date, Richie did the sensible thing and arrived in full Audrey Hepburn attire, pregnant and on the arm of a responsible-looking man. And it worked! Though convicted of her crime, Richie spent only 82 minutes in jail. Her lawyer described her as "pleasantly surprised" by her short tenure in the slammer.
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Anne Hutchinson fell afoul with Puritan authorities in 1630s Massachusetts when she claimed God told her that she could understand the Scriptures without a male minister to guide her. She was tried twice, for heresy and for disobedience. Hutchinson’s standard Puritan attire belied the fact that the mother of fifteen was, at the time, pregnant; she was forced to stand for most of the trial. Banished from the Puritan colony and relocated to Rhode Island, Hutchinson’s pregnancy turned out to be a “menopausal pregnancy,” which her body “aborted into a hydatidiform mole and expelled,” according to modern medical interpretation. (Her detractors cited the “monstrous birth” as evidence of evil.) She moved yet again to the Bronx, where she and several of her young children were murdered by members of the Siwanoy tribe. “Proud Jezebel has at last been cast down," Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop reportedly exclaimed when he heard of her death.
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Actress Lana Turner was dating "small time hood" Johnny Stompanato when he turned up stabbed to death in Turner’s apartment. The culprit? Turner's 14-year-old daughter Cheryl, who said she did it to defend her mother during a violent domestic quarrel. With Cheryl on trial, Lana rushed her daughter’s defense, appearing in beautifully cut suits for the "performance of her life.” The killing was ruled a justifiable homicide; Cheryl got off with a stint in reform school.
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After husband Peter Cook cheated on her with an 18-year-old, "Uptown Girl" inspiration Christie Brinkley filed for divorce. Four years and one revelation of Cook’s $3000/month porn addiction later, the battling couple finally settled out of court — but only after Brinkley called Cook a "narcissist," and he called her "juvenile." In the interim, however, Brinkley showed up to court in a series of preppy outfits, often a diaphanous vision in pink, as if to show her Hamptons-based architect ex what he was missing.
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John (and Victoria) Gotti
Breast cancer faker Victoria Gotti has been a spectator in her fair share of trials, including her father John's and her brother John Jr's. The daughter of the most notorious mob boss in New York history, Gotti has fully embraced the maxim that fur is a fabric for all occasions, especially the courts. We love her matching fur hat and coat. It’s what Blossom would wear in the tundra.
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Arguably the most famous gangster of all time, Al Capone was actually brought down for something rather banal, refusing to pay his income tax. The mob boss was extraordinarily stylish at his trial, projecting authority and power in double-breasted suits and fedoras.
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The mother of Anderson Cooper and heir to the Vanderbilt fortune, as a child heiress Gloria Vanderbilt was involved in a sensational custody trial. Her mother, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilts was only a teen when she married Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt. Shortly after Gloria’s birth Reginald died, leaving Gloria Morgan to live it up, criss-crossing the Atlantic to party with princes. When Gloria was about ten, her grandmother sued for custody. During the trial, Gloria Morgan’s alleged affairs with men (and women) became matters of public record. Little Gloria, outfitted in precocious finery like this matching plaid ensemble, was eventually turned over to her grandmother and aunt, who allegedly "lost interest in her immediately after the trial."
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Though Britney regularly tangles with the law (and now has a court-appointed guardian of her well-being), she is rarely photographed near courthouses. Photographers caught a glimpse of Spears in 2008 at a custody hearing over her two sons. She struggled to get through the crowd of photographers, all while wearing a white, slightly Victorian shirt. She’s not always so prim and proper, though. In 2010, TMZ reported seeing Spears in a black backless dress on her way to a conservatorship meeting.
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Over the years, Courtney Love has gone to court for many things, including drug charges and defamation lawsuits. As such, her look and general demeanor have varied, from punk to conservative to punk-conservative. She has worn suits, tube tops, and skirts slit up to her hips. Remember, this is a woman who once said, “I am God and my lawyers are my twelve disciples, do not fuck with me.”
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Larry Flynt — Hustler publisher, free-speech advocate, and political sex-life enthusiast — spent 22 years fighting obscenity charges in Cincinnati. From the seat of his golden wheelchair, Flynt favors natty suits and bold, colorful ties for court dates. "You got to stand in a courtroom and listen to a judge sentencing you to 25 years in prison before you realize that freedom of expression can no longer be taken for granted," the porn scion said once to Tavis Smiley.
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How did the men of thirties Hollywood stack up sexually? The world came close to knowing in 1936, when actress Mary Astor was involved in a vicious custody battle for her daughter and her husband’s lawyer admitted her diary into evidence. Written in purple ink, the diary detailed Astor’s sordid affairs with playwright George S. Kaufman and many male stars of her day. Sample passage: "We played kneesies during the first two acts, my hand wasn’t in my own lap during the third. It’s been years since I’ve felt up a man in public, but I just got carried away." The diary was never released to the public, however, and was destroyed in 1952. Throughout the trial, Astor remained a vision of dignity in wide picture hats and sober suits. She eventually got custody of her daughter.
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Susan B. Anthony
To establish that the feminist pioneer had purposefully voted-while-female, the prosecutor in her 1872 New York trial asked, “Was Miss Anthony dressed in the apparel of a woman and had she the appearance of a woman?” At the trial, Anthony wore a “plain black silk dress with a white lace collar” and her hair in a bun. She had hoped to challenge the recently incorporated Fourteenth Amendment, which extended the right to vote to all men, to include women. She lost the trial, but she never paid her court-ordered $100 fine. When she died in 1906, women still didn't have the right to vote. "To think I have had more than 60 years of hard struggle for a little liberty, and then to die without it seems so cruel," she told her friend Anna Shaw before she died.
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Patrizia Reggiani, known among the late-nineties jet-set as “Liz Taylor” for her love of jewelry, was married for twelve years to Gucci heir Maurizio Gucci, until he left her for another woman in 1985. Patrizia, who reportedly once said, "I would rather weep in a Rolls-Royce than be happy on a bicycle," was furious. She griped about her spousal support to anyone who would listen (it was a mere “plate of lentils”) and talked about killing Maurizio. Finally, in 1995, she did kill Maurizio, with the help of an “incompetent” criminal group that included her psychic. Tried for the crime in 1998 (the investigation took a long time because so many people had wanted to kill Maurizio), she arrived every day in court wearing "fur coats and stiletto heels with perfectly manicured nails." She was eventually sentenced to 29 years in prison. In 2011, she was granted parole provided she got a job, but Reggiani rejected the offer because she had "never worked in her life" and had no desire to start. She preferred to spend her time behind bars, with her pet ferret Bambi.
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Puff Daddy (and J.Lo)
In 2001, back when Puff Daddy (as he was unironically known at the time) was still dating J.Lo (as she is unironically known to this day), he went to trial for gun charges related to an incident in a New York City nightclub two years earlier. Puff beat the rap eventually, though his friend the rapper Shyne went to jail. To defend himself, Puff wore some of the shiniest ties ever seen in human history.
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Whitney Houston's court appearances were often intertwined with her extremely rocky relationship with husband Bobby Brown. Here she is wearing extremely tiny sunglasses and a pashmina to support Brown in court in Decatur, Georgia.
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Nancy Grace believed Casey Anthony guilty of murdering her daughter based, in part, on photos of Anthony partying after the girl’s death in sexy clothing. When a court of law found Anthony not guilty, however, she was wearing approachable officewear like shapeless sweaters, gray trousers, and the occasionally frilly blouse. The day of her release, Anthony wore a hot magenta V-neck with a Polo logo.