From Rebekah Vardy’s handbag to Nigella’s black coat, this is how celebrities nail courthouse chic

Giant sunglasses, designer dresses and four-figure handbags – I’m not referring to the outfits on the red carpet at last week’s Met Gala, but rather the fashion scene currently taking place outside London’s High Court.

As the high profile libel case between Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy unfolds, it’s not just Peter Andre’s “chipolata” causing a stir. The sartorial choices of both women have proved just as splashy. From Rooney £ 1,565 Mugler blazer worn with one velvet Gucci loafer (the other foot dressed in a medical boot), to Vardy’s black Prada midi and Givenchy tote, no expense has been spared on the Wagatha Christie wardrobe.

While designer labels are hardly a surprise (both women have a net worth in the multi-millions), the looks themselves are a departure from their typical glamorous styles. Cocktail frocks and bouncy blow dries have been replaced by sharp-shouldered power jackets, sleek dresses and demure chignons, all topped off with the obligatory “I’m famous, do not look at me” dark glasses. The message is clear: these women mean business and they have the shoulder pads to prove it.

Vardy and Rooney aren’t the first celebrities to employ sartorial tactics when appearing at a courthouse. In fact, celebrity court dressing has become a bona fide fashion phenomenon, garnering as much attention, if not more, than the proceedings on the stand.

When German socialite-cum-fraudster, Anna Delvey, went on trial at the New York Supreme Court in 2019, an Instagram account was set up to document her outfits. With over 58 thousand followers @annadelveycourtlooks showcased the designer ensembles: Michael Kors shift dresses, Yves Saint Laurent blouses, Victoria Beckham trousers.

That same year, singer Cardi B turned her multiple court visits into a catwalk by wearing a series of dramatic outfits including a hot pink Salvatore Ferragamo trouser suit, floor-length mink coat and a feathered cape.

Paris Hilton arrives at a court in Miami (Photo: Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald / Tribune News Service / Getty)

Though the courthouse is certainly an unconventional fashion opportunity, a fashion opportunity it nonetheless is. Just ask Winona Ryder who, after wearing a black and pink dress by Marc Jacobs during her shoplifting trial in 2001, went on to star in the designer’s 2003 spring advertising campaign.

However, A-list court dressing is not solely about flashing fashion credentials; there’s symbolism behind the style, too.

No stranger to run-ins with the law, Paris Hilton has repeatedly swapped her pink and fluffy party girl image for a more wholesome one during her court appearances. Her uniform of little black dresses, neat skirt suits and sweet headbands is carefully constructed to portray a responsible look. The same fashion formula was used by Hilton’s friend Nicole Richie, who channeled Audrey-Hepburn chic in a classic shift and retro sunglasses after pleading guilty to driving under the influence in 2007.

Some outfit messages are not so understated. For her court hearing in 2013, Lindsay Lohan went full “butter-wouldn’t-melt” in a head-to-toe white outfit by designer 3.1 Phillip Lim, with a string of white rosary beads added for good measure. Angelic white was also the color of choice for Naomi Campbell when testifying at the war crimes trial of former Liberian ruler, Charles Taylor, in 2010. The supermodel sported a conservative knee-length dress, finished with a prim cardigan.

Nigella Lawson arrives to give evidence in 2013 (Photo: Danny Martindale / WireImage)

If white is an attempt at conveying innocence, black is undoubtedly a marker of a don’t-mess-with-me attitude. When Sienna Miller took over the tabloids at the 2011 Leveson inquiry, she did so in a black dress and killer heels. Likewise, model Linda Evangelista chose black battle dress in the form of a three-piece skirt suit for the settlement case with her child father, billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault.

The most impactful case of courthouse black comes from Nigella Lawson. During the 2013 fraud trial against her personal assistants, the Domestic Goddess arrived at Isleworth Crown Court to give her testimony clad in a long black military-inspired coat and black boots. The piece of resistance was an immaculate flick of her signature black eyeliner and a severe stare. Celebrity court dressing at its most defiant? Absolutely.

Frankie Graddon is a freelance beauty and fashion journalist

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