Fashion on trial: Our verdict on some infamous cases in the courtroom

Esther Walker
Thursday 18 September 2008 00:00 BST

Amanda Knox

What could possibly be more innocent than this outfit? Knox, the Seattle-born woman suspected of murdering British student Meredith Kercher, is only 21 and has dressed for her court appearance in Perugia, Italy, like the student that she is. She wears a waist-length, white cotton smock top, which has red and blue flowers printed along the neckline, over a pair of blue denim jeans. Her hair is tied up in the schoolgirl-ish style, with the top half tied back off her bare face and secured with a purple plastic butterfly clip, and the rest loose. Her entire outfit makes her look completely out of place in the Italian courtroom or flanked by policemen.

Paris Hilton

Hilton is best known for wearing tiny, pink dresses. Here, she is dressed like a lawyer in a trouser suit. There is a curt nod to Hilton's other life as a glamour-puss with her super-shiny make-up and a handbag. With this outfit she is saying "I can be responsible", but, with the Alice band she is also saying "I am a little girl, please don't be too mean to me." The judge was unconvinced by Hilton's librarian look and sentenced her to 45 days in jail for violating her probation.

Mary Archer

Mary Archer's court appearance in 1987 would be the first in a list in her capacity as wife of future jailbird peer, Jeffrey. She is every inch the pulled-together Home Counties working wife. Since it was the late Eighties, there is nothing ironic about pussycat bow or her matching checked skirt, scarf and bag. Her shoes are sensible, her jewellery demure, her expression trusting. She is the model woman to give evidence at the libel case brought by her husband against the Daily Star. She caught the eye of the judge, Bernie Caulfield, who asked the court: "Has she elegance? Has she fragrance? Would she have, without the strain of this trial, radiance?" Her husband won this case, but lost the next and went to prison for perjury.

Martha Stewart

You'd have thought that if you were appearing in court on fraud charges (which were dropped), you wouldn't dress so expensively, but Stewart – former stockbroker, TV personality and home furnishings magnate – is wearing thousands of pounds' worth of kit. Her £4,000 Hermès bag says: "I do not only have access to money, I have access to contacts [the bag has a two-year waiting list] and I have taste and style." It is also mumsy. Coupled with Stewart's mega blow-dry, ash-blonde highlights and cashmere jacket, how could anyone think that she was not straight down the line? The judge, however, sent Stewart down for five months on lesser charges.

Pamela Anderson

Following the breakdown of her allegedly violent relationship with Motley Crue rocker Tommy Lee, Anderson divorced Lee and fought him for custody of their two sons – a three-year-long battle which ended in a joint arrangement. In this dress, Pammy probably comes as close as she ever can to looking like a normal LA "mom". Sure, by most standards she still looks ludicrous, what with her balloon bosoms and hilarious French manicure. But she is not wearing her habitual multi-layered eye shadow, false lashes and she's covered up her legs down to below the knee. And she's even carrying what looks like a Tod's bag. For Anderson, this is seriously conservative.

Winona Ryder

It's difficult to decide whether Ryder looked demure and pulled-together in the outfits that she wore as she stood trial on charges of shoplifting in 2001 (she was eventually found guilty), or a little bit crazy. What is it about this get-up that is suspicious? Is it the wide leather Alice band that is a little bit too big for her? Is it her slightly raggedy hair scraped back underneath it? Is it the primness of her coat, buttoned up to the throat in a semi-Amish style? Or perhaps it is her choice of heavy eye-liner, red lip stain and pink cheeks that make her look like a five year old who's been rummaging in her mummy's make-up bag. During the trial she wore a Marc Jacobs dress (she had shoplifted a Marc Jacobs sweater) and he thought she looked so good in it that he hired her for an ad campaign.

Marianne Faithfull

When police raided Keith Richards's house in Sussex in 1967, searching for drugs, Faithfull was allegedly found wearing only a fur rug. Later, in 1969, Jagger's house in Cheyne Walk, London, was raided in another drugs search, when officers claimed to have found cannabis. Faithfull accompanied Jagger to court in a high fashion get-up of brilliant white tights, black Mary Janes and a voluminous cape. With her tights a little bit grubby from the rainy streets and a cigarette dangling from her fingers, Faithfull cuts an odd dash as a picture of innocence and a wolf in sheep's clothing. Charges against Faithfull were eventually dropped.

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