I would like to continue to make my articles straightforward, simple to understand for the layman just getting into the industry. I also hope this sparks an interest for us, who have been in the field for years, to return to the basics that we tend to forget. I have spent the past 13 years experiencing the highs and lows of the industry, and my goal is to make the path that I have traveled a bit more comfortable instead of the roots I have encountered. If you can’t learn from your mistakes and shortcomings, you will have a rough road to ride on in this very challenging highway. I make mistakes on a daily basis, but I try to learn from what did not work for me and adjust and carry on.
The basics of proper, acceptable dressing in the Executive Protection industry have always been a challenge for me. I just returned from an overseas project in the EU. I was very impressed with the operational skills of the agents who I worked with, but also with the way they carried themselves on and off the project and the impeccable business attire they wore. The ladies and gentlemen on this project knew how to dress. Again, I don’t want to go too deep into details and specific styles and designer brands, but I do want to cover the basics of what an entry level agent should know before reporting for his or her first project.
- Know your Client and your Project
I just recently ended a project with an international client that lasted for 10 years. Just from the perspective of dressing for a project, it covered the full spectrum, except for a tactical load-out. My client was a khaki pants and polo type of person and that is what he expected his agents to ware. Since it was a low profile detail in a very risky area of the world, it was important to blend in with the locals. Know your client and the project before you show up for the assignment. Ask the hard questions. What will we be doing? Is it high or low profile? Is it business casual or business formal? Will we be attending special events? How does the client dress?
Guys and Girls, please do not show up for your detail with a photographers vest and 5.11 cargo slacks, if your Detail Leader informs you that the dress code is business casual. Keep it simple and ask the right questions
- Business Casual and Business Formal
Business casual can come in two forms. It can be a conservative colored polo shirt and slacks. Polo should be tucked in (acceptable on the outside, especially when trying to conceal gear. If worn outside of slacks, it must not drape down to your knees.) Remember a simple rule of thumb, if your slacks have belt loops, you must wear a belt. Make it conservative black or dark brown. Always keep your shirts if polo or a button down, very conservative and no bright colors that will bring attention to yourself. I have also worked on projects where the dress code was formal business casual. This was just the addition of a sports coat. I keep mine very simple, and that I can interchange with different outfits. You can’t go wrong with a tweed or dark colored sports coat.
- Dress shoes and Work shoes
Good shoes are so worth it in the Executive Protection industry. Remember, you probably will be standing on your feet for up to 12 hours per shift. I’m OK with agents wearing a good sturdy slip on type of shoes. I’m not a fan of when agents show up with a slip on loafer with tassels. Just a thing I have about shoes like that. Again shoes should be appropriate for the conditions of your project. If you are going to be escorting across international borders, you may want a more durable shoe. Dress shoes can be slip on or laced up ones. You can never go wrong with a black or dark brown dress shoe. Make sure you keep them clean and in good working condition. When I find a comfortable shoe and it starts wearing out, I will take it to a local cobbler to get them upgraded. A hiking type shoe should be left for a training day or when escorting your client in adverse land or weather conditions. I highly recommend getting the best insoles you can afford. With the addition of good socks (NOT WHITE), you will thank me down the road.
- Dress Suits
This is a lot simpler then everyone makes it sound. This is pretty cut and dry. You can never go wrong with dark suit colors. I always recommend for entry level agents to have on hand, a navy blue, black or a dark gray suit. Shirts should match the suits and not be flashy. You will look sharp with a nicely pressed white shirt. The tie should match the suit and I would stay away from ties with wild prints like flowers or wild bright colors. No clip on ties and when tied correctly, the tip of your tie should lay just over your belt buckle. I’m not a fan of bow ties while on an escort, unless I’m at a formal black tie event. That is another topic that I will cover in the next posts. To keep my articles on the light side, I don’t recommend any shark skin suits, double breasted suits (when left open they lay horribly), no hats or fedoras. Last time I checked, I wasn’t going for the new role of Indiana Jones.
- Off the Rack and Tailoring
I have never had an issue with suites or accessorizes off the rack. I’m always shopping at Nordstrom Rack and finding some amazing deals. I usually pick up dress shirts and belts from them. I do have better designer suits that I picked up at the Men’s Warehouse. One thing above all that I will recommend and it will save you time and money. Invest in finding and building a relationship with a good tailor. My tailor has really done some wonderful alterations on my off the rack sports coats, slacks and shirts. You definitely can tell when an agent is put together well. Your tailor will get to know your body size and how certain materials lay on you and make you stand out. This is a wise investment.
I hope this cleared the air on the basics of Executive Protection basic dress codes. I only have time to cover the items to get the new agent started. I hope to go into more detail about more dress items and tactical EP ware in future posting. Feel free to contact me anytime with questions concerning my articles and the EP profession in general.