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Dressing the Part

John Carter

"Standardized Judge Apparel Presents a Cohesive Image of Authority"

Being and effective judge means being instantly recognized as an authority at whatever event you run. The simplest way to get that recognition is to look the part so your players know exactly who to should address their questions and concerns. Impeccable rules knowledge and smooth organizational skills are built over time just like player skills in the game itself. But every judge can be the image of authority from his or her first day on the floor. These are the most commonly held guidelines for DCI judges the world over taken from the ground up. Every detail is included to present event participants with an image of respectability and authority.


A well dressed judge makes a good impression.

1. Shoes

A judge is often required to be on his or her feet for hours at a time. The shoes worn should be as neat as possible without large holes or dirt. Black shoes tend to match the overall outfit best. Be aware though that comfort should be highly regarded given how much time is spent standing or moving about. It is no good to have good looking shoes if foot pain ruins one's patience.

2. Pants

Judge pants come in all sizes and one color: black. Belts are recommended, add a bit more sophistication, and can be useful in administering punishment for cheating penalties and whatnot. Occasionally or for local events denim and other pant styles are worn, but they should never have rips or holes. Judges do not wear shorts at premiere events.

3. Shirts

By far the most complicated and important part of a judge's wardrobe is his or her shirt. The most recognizable shirt is the classic "zebra" shirt with its black and white vertical stripes. Shirts fall into several categories, each with it's own implied skill level and event criteria.

Black and Red Stripes:

The most exclusive shirt. Only to be worn by the Head Judge at major events (Worlds, PTs, etc.). Never worn outside such events. Never worn by anyone other than the HJ. Usual owner: L4+


Black and White (Zebra) Stripes:

The judge shirt. Worn by floor judges at major events (Worlds, PTs, Nationals). Often worn by local judges while HJ of smaller premiere events (PTQs, prereleases). Floor judges at major events are asked to remove the zebra stripes before judging ancillary events. Should not be worn except while officiating DCI events. Usual owner: Some L2s and L3+.

Purple T-shirt:

The "Barney" shirt with JUDGE in large letters on the back. Readily available for side event judges at major events for the past few years. Seen in early WotC event videos (a precursor to the zebra shirt). Because it is used to denote ancillary staff, this shirt is relatively easy to get and is often the first introduction to advance judge attire. Because of possible player confusion or detracting from the staff on hand, it is strongly recommended that any of the above shirts not be worn unless working at an event.


"Staff Shirts":

Most often, these are Prerelease or Grand Prix shirts. Prereleases with a HJ in zebra stripes and the other staff in the Prerelease shirts works very nicely in helping player figure out who's who. Staff shirts are largely advertising, and there is almost no reason not to wear them frequently, no matter what side of the judge's station you're on. There are often similar versions of these shirt that do not have "Staff" on them.


Miscellaneous shirts:

The black polo, Arena instructor and judges shirts, older WotC shirts, Grand Prix shirts, etc. As long as you're not causing some sort of disruption or misrepresentation with the shirt, there is almost never a problem with wearing these or most Prerelease style shirts to events.

If a DCI shirt is not used, a plain, white, button down shirt is recommended. Any shirt should be free from rips, stains, or disruptive slogans. If a venue is cold, it often helps to wear a long-sleeved shirt under your intended judge shirt.

4. Face and Hair

There is no standard for hair length (if any) or style. Long hair, short hair, bald with a chainmail cap? Hair is often used to present personality. The only caveat is that face and hair should be clean and groomed.

The total package presents the image of a good judge. When a new or old player looks up for a ruling or has a question about decklists, he or she will know exactly who the right person to ask is. As a judge does well, he or she will add to the authority that image carries. And by having all judges do their best to honor their uniforms, a cohesive worldwide network of event professionals is created and maintained.



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