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If you are going to wear a suit get it tailored. I have seen more undercover officers and EP who look like heck in nice suits.  Some pointers when buying suits.

Get measured for your shirts and try them on.  I kept getting told I am a 17½ 34-35.  The shirt cuff would come down to the back of my hand. I had to keep arguing with the sellers of shirts to get the right size. I am a 32-33 sleeve length.  The shirt cuff should come to ideally half way between your wrist bone and your 3rd knucklebone on your thumb. Also, check the sleeve diameter, on some shirts I cannot wear a watch as the cuff is too tight for a watch – I am ok with that but some people are not – so check.  Also your shirt should tuck into the pants with several inches of extra tail so it does not come un-tucked.  The neck of the shirt must be comfortable, without you looking like a turtle sticking your neck out of a shell.  The collar should button without effort but not have great slack.  If the shirt is too big around, as mine are, invest a bit and have some darts put in to pull in the shirt.  Also when possible, seek out French cuffs – they look great. As for cufflinks – as long as they look nice. It does not matter if you got them on Savill Row or Goodwill – I have pair from both locations and I dare you to figure out which is which.

Jacket.  Single, double or no vent, its your choice.  The jacket rear panel should come down to where your butt and thigh meet and make a crease or a pinch lower.  The jacket should not be down to your mid thigh, and never above your butt.  The jacket should button easily when standing without the fabric pulling to form arrows of stress all pointing at the button under going the strain.  If you have a double-breasted jacket – button the inside button.  Also unless at a picture taking event – unbutton your jacket when you sit down.  The jacket sleeves should be shorter than you shirtsleeve – so just a bit of shirt cuff can show past the jacket sleeve. I like my jacket altered to my wrist bone.  Unless in the tropics or desert – always go for a fully lined jacket.

Pants.  Dress pants hang best with a double flap closure in front so the stress is taken off the waist fastener.  The inside waistbands should be generous in size, and have a grippy strip of rubber that helps to hold the shirt tucked in.  Casual pants can be partially lined formal dress pants should be lined to mid thigh.  As for the pant leg, cuff or no cuff is your choice, but not length.  The hem should give the pants only a slight break in front.  The bottom of the pants should not look like you pants have elephantiasis.  Last no dragging of the rear of the cuff on the ground.   Have the pants hemmed when you are wearing shoes of the same style when you get dressed up.

Ties. Ties are an accent.  If you are tall you will need longer ties.  DO NOT WEAR A TIE LIKE OLIVER HARDY.  The tie should go down to touch your belt buckle.  The weight of the tie fabric also makes a difference.  Some of the 7 fold silk ties from Italy are perfect, but only with a half Windsor.  Chose a tie of a thinner and longer construct if you are going to tie a full Windsor knot.  Bow ties are great, if you tie them – no clip ons please.  Also the front of your shirt must meticulously starched and well ironed when wearing a bow tie.

Socks must cover the calf – and should be close to the same color of the pants or the shoe.  If you wish to make a statement with a different colored sock, it would be best not while on duty.

Pocket squares are nice and can be cool, but please not matching tie and pocket squares.

We also wear pins to ID each other, make sure your jacket has lapels buttonhole that have been cut open so you can wear a pin without damaging the jacket.

If you carry a weapon or radio always on your person, have the gear on your person when you see your tailor.

Fabrics that always look good, cashmere, 300 weight wools, silk wool blends, fabrics that always look rumpled, poplin, linen, cotton. I also must admit that some of the new microfibre fabrics are pretty nifty too.

Do you need to spend a fortune? No you do not.  Often with patients you can find sport coats and suits and some ties that have been gently used on eBay and or at local thrift stores.  I know a fellow who, over a period of years picked up the following items:

Brioni Cashmere sport coat, 2 silk tweed jackets by Yves St Lauren, one Kiton Suit, and two Ralph Loren sport coats, a Canelli Tuxedo, 5 Brioni ties and two Kiton ties all for less than $500. This collection, retail, approaches $10,000.00

So take your time.  Buy good items, and if budget is an issue, gently used is OK – I mean who will know unless you tell them.  Get the clothes properly tailored and have them properly cleaned and pressed.

Also – make sure your belt and shoes are the same color and the heel always looks new!


This Executive Protection article was written or edited by Barron James Shortt, the Executive Director of the IBA.

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