Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man;
– Polonius to Laertes in Hamlet
Clients commonly want to know how to dress for the meeting of creditors. This is the first (and usually the only) time you will see the bankruptcy trustee, so it is important to make the right impression. How you dress may mean the difference between flying under the trustee’s radar and being squarely in the crosshairs.
While the trustee is not a judge, and the meeting is intended to be “informal,” your appearance should convey respect towards this federal process. Some clients believe that they should dress like they are very poor. This is not recommended and will make you stand out in stark contrast to the attorneys and creditors who may attend your meeting. Likewise, some clients over-dress for the meeting. Wearing a suit or Sunday best attire will also attract unwanted attention and cause you to stand out apart from the other debtors.
The best advise is to dress in a business casual manner. For men this means long pants and a collared long or short sleeved shirt. For women long pants or skirt, and a modest top that covers the shoulders. Jeans, t-shirts, shorts, short skirts, flip-flops, and revealing clothing are not appropriate. Hair should be neatly trimmed and you should convey an overall clean and neat appearance.
If you are actually poor, the trustee will recognize this fact from your bankruptcy schedules and will appreciate your respectful appearance. If you are not poor, dressing like you are homeless will cause the trustee to wonder why you are appearing that way. This may cause further questioning – which is never a good thing for a debtor!
Leave personal electronics and expensive jewelry at home! Bankruptcy trustees are always looking for personal items that may be under-valued or not disclosed on the bankruptcy schedules. Again, leave expensive phones and jewelry at home.
The vast majority of bankruptcy meetings are quick and uneventful. Make sure you are not causing questions from the trustee by your appearance or by personal items brought to the meeting. The goal is to have no one notice you or remember you case. If you have further questions about how to dress for your meeting of creditors, consult with you bankruptcy attorney.