All the way up. Dress like your attorney.
At the very least, conservative business casual. No cleavage, no distracting jewelry, no teetering heels, no short skirts.
It's kind of like an important job interview -- show respect toward the court, and keep the focus on you and what you have to say rather than on what you're wearing.
I had asked my attorney the same question and that was her response, "show respect for the court."
She said she always wore a skirt. I wore a black wool dress (fitted, but not tight or showing cleavage), black tights, and black suede heels. It was winter during my hearing as well.
Not a single parent, but I am an attorney.
I agree with PPs who say to dress to show respect for the court. "Slacks" rather than jeans, a blouse rather than a t-shirt and shoes that are not sneakers and aren't beat up looking (flats or heels) will be fine and a nice, simple dress or skirt with tights and a blouse or sweather would also be fine. You don't have to dress like your attorney if you don't have the clothes to do so. The court knows you are not an attorney. Wear the best you have, but don't spend $$ that you don't have to impress the judge. Just look put together (hair and make-up as well, if you wear make-up) and you'll be fine. Ask your attorney to give you instructions on how to behave and when/where to sit, stand, etc. (follow your lawyer's cues) and how to address the judge (depending on level of court the appropriate title changes) if you need to speak. Don't interrupt, and be concise in your comments if you are asked to speak.
N, wife to my goofball K and mamma to my EC grad D (July 2010) and my new little love S (May 2013). Exploring the uncharted territory of tandem nursing with my two boys.
I've worked in fairly casual environments (read jeans and Ts) for the most part in my profession, current job is biz casual (khakis and polos) but at nearly 6 figures being a pro in IT, i'm expected to occasionally throw down the good clothes :)
I have like 3 suits I think right now? thats what i've worn to court when I went.
I don't really do makeup, my hair is pretty easy and plain, and I wore 2-3" plain heels (no open toes!)
I'd say a buttondown blouse that covers up everything, ie tailored, and slacks would be ok - but you def want to look as professional as you can. I'd actually avoid black if you can however...it tends to make people look harsh and if you are nervous and pale even more so. I have SUPER pale skin (I actually won contest of who was paler - me or an actual albino once) and just a shade above black hair....so I stick with jewel tones and I have a black suit and 2 med brown ones. Red/pink will help you look rosier and sad as it is to say....impressions do help.
Oddly enough my Ex wore jeans (all he has that fit his wide posterier) and his LAWYER....oh...my...god.
she showed up the last time wearing 20 dollar wedge sandals with cheese flowers on them, a sundress you'd expect to see on a teenager (around 6" above knee, strappy, etc) with a elbow length cardigan that was OBVIOUSLY 2 sizes too small, and her makeup might have made a hooker doubtful.
And she was in her 40s, had several kids, and was easily a size 12/14. Ewwww....
as much as I wanted to stab my ex, I actually had a moment where I felt sorry he was paying that hot mess, but then the evil chuckling in my head started. muhahahahha!