All kinds of workers wear uniforms to work every day. From professional athletes to restaurant servers and hospital workers, uniforms play an important role in daily life. The question for designers is what actually makes for the most practical and helpful kind of uniform for each customer. Sometimes a few thoughtful changes can drastically improve a design.
Alsco is a Utah company that specializes in uniform rental. In fact, they were the first ones to offer uniform rental in the U.S. way back in the late 1800s. They explain that the most important aspect of any workwear uniform is how much it is appreciated by the worker wearing it.
It is the worker who ultimately experiences all the pros and cons of a new uniform design. The worker will decide if the uniform is comfortable; the worker will quickly discover if it is functional; the worker will ultimately determine whether it protects him or her adequately enough.
New Police Uniforms in DC
A good way to illustrate all of this is to look at the new uniforms just unveiled by the Washington DC Police Department. While a lot of people completely unfamiliar with police work are focusing on whether the uniforms are fashionable or not, those with insider knowledge are looking more at function.
For example, the design of the new uniform calls for the addition of suspenders. Think about that for a moment. Have you ever seen a police officer wearing suspenders before? Probably not. Though there may be some departments that have already gone to suspenders, it is not the norm. And yet, the new DC police uniform includes them.
Officers’ new suspenders will provide a dual function. First, they will help to relieve the weight of an officer’s utility belt; a belt that seems to get heavier each year with the addition of more equipment. Its weight can do a number on an officer’s hips and back. By attaching suspenders, more of that weight is distributed to the shoulders.
New suspenders will also make it easier for officers engaged in foot pursuits. They won’t have to worry about either their utility belts or pants falling down at full speed, giving them one less thing to worry about in the heat of action.
More Vest Pockets
Another subtle change is the addition of several utility pockets on the front of the officer’s vest. Pictures of the uniforms show two breast pockets along with a front utility pocket, a pocket for the officer’s hand-held radio, and another front pocket that would be ideal for a flashlight. The vest even includes a mount for a body-worn camera.
All this built-in storage space does a couple of things. First, it puts some of the most important things a police officer needs within easy reach. Breast pockets are a lot easier to access than pants pockets. Secondly, storing things in vest pockets takes some of the extra weight off the officers’ pants. This further alleviates hip and back stress.
A New Color
It’s hard to escape the fact that the new DC police uniforms are also sporting a different color. The all-navy design does look sharp, but there is an added reason for the color choice: darker colors hide perspiration and dirt a lot more. An officer’s image looks a lot more professional as a result.
It is amazing how just a few thoughtful changes can improve a uniform design exponentially. The Washington DC Police Department is about to find out. Their new uniforms will hopefully make officers’ jobs a lot easier.