Clothes make the man ... and in Lawrence Phillips' case ... he hopes they make him look NOT GUILTY -- which is why he's begging the judge to let him wear civilian clothes at his murder trial.
Phillips is accused of killing his cell mate at Kern County State Prison back in April -- and he's expected to stand trial in 2016.
Now, TMZ Sports has learned the ex-NFL running back has filed new court docs asking the judge to allow him to wear civilian clothes to court during his trial instead of a prison uniform -- because he believes it will help him get a fair trial.
The long and short of it ... Phillips believes he'll be presumed guilty if he's already wearing stripes.
The fact he was already serving time for assault with a deadly weapon probably doesn't help his cause.
The judge has yet to rule on the clothing issue. Stay tuned.