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Are the DC Police Department’s New Uniforms Actually Stylish?

We asked a local menswear retailer for his take on the new look.
Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Police Department.

The DC Police Department recently gave a sneak preview of fancy new uniforms they’re rolling out this October. Police spokesperson Dustin Sternbeck gave a simple explanation for the new look: “The main benefit for our police officers is all-around wellness.” Police say the goal for the new style is to provide comfort, as well as durability.

OK, that’s great. But that doesn’t answer one important question—are the dark navy-blue, 100 percent polyester uniforms fashionable? Read Wall, local retailer and founder of diplomatoutfitters.com, says the new uniforms are a change for the better. We asked Wall to give us his take on each new feature:

I think the main kudos for the design team should go towards the use of internal suspenders instead of belts. Wearing heavy stuff on a belt can be really demanding on the hips and back, not to mention, extremely difficult to maintain thorough activity. No cop wants their pants falling down in a chase! Wearing suspenders to hold up their holsters (and trousers) is going to be more comfortable.

The darker color looks better, and it won’t show sweat as much. I mean, you’re looking for a certain effect, you want some intimidation there. Obviously, you want to be approachable; but if you’re trying to apprehend someone, you want them to be scared of you. Anytime you see a college football team wearing a dark uniform, it’s just like, whoa, this is intense. It just has a different vibe to it. Everyone in the stadium goes nuts. 

Polyester used to be brutal, but fabric technology has gotten way better over the years. Poly fabrics used to be stiff, not breathable at all, and wouldn’t hold their shape. Assuming it’s a good quality, poly and poly blends are way more breathable than cotton now and, with a little stretch, can be super comfortable (think Lululemon or Under Armour compared to Champion or Russell athletic gear).

I think about it from a functional perspective—the front pockets will make it easy to reach to anything that they need. They look a little odd, but at a certain point the uniforms have to be functional. It might cut some corners style-wise, but it’s a good idea to have them where they’re most accessible.

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Elliot joined Washingtonian in January 2018. An alum of Villanova University, he grew up in the Philadelphia area before moving to Syracuse to pursue a master’s in journalism. His work has also appeared on Syracuse.com, TheAtlantic.com, and Catholicnews.com. He lives in Eckington.