Last week, Ivanka Trump was summonsed to the New York State Supreme Court to testify against her father, Donald Trump, in a civil real estate fraud trial. After futile attempts by lawyers to spare Ivanka from taking the stand, she strolled into court in a shoulder-padded black blazer and matching trousers with black pointy-toed pump, where she proceeded to not recall many of the events she was asked about. While the embattled former president’s daughter opted not to make a loud fashion statement, her outfit raises a question: What do you wear when you’re subpoenaed to testify against your father in one of his many upcoming trials?
It’s not the first time the public has wondered, grimly or voyeuristically, what one wears to court. In the titular essay of The White Album, Joan Didion wrote about going to the now-defunct department store I. Magnin to buy a trial dress for Linda Kasabian, a Charles Manson acolyte who served as a lookout during the murders at Cielo Drive. “Mini but not extremely mini. In velvet if possible. Emerald green or gold. Or: A Mexican peasant-style dress, smocked or embroidered,” Kasabian requested.
The conclusion of the Manson trials didn’t mark the end of the intrigue surrounding high-profile judicial proceedings, and what one wears to them. In 2023, celebrities in the courtroom seem of more interest than ever, between the popularity of Jury Duty—which starred James Marsden as a satirized version of himself—Kim Kardashian doing her civic duty by reporting for her own jury duty, and Gwyneth Paltrow’s highly memed ski trial. But other celebrities have paved the way up to this point.