You may not think about the cut of his shirt when a motorcycle cop pulls you over, but chances are you recognize the air of authority. For its professional, well-fitted and immediately identifiable uniforms, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is being honored at an April 4 ceremony at Bally’s with a 2014 Best Dressed Public Safety Award from the North American Association of Uniform Manufacturers & Distributors.
Metro says it isn’t the first time the department has won, but it is the first time we’re breaking down its looks with a local fashion expert. Dennis Wright is department chair for all design programs at the International Academy of Design & Technology in Henderson, and with a Master’s from Boston University in costume design—plus a decade at Disney World creating themed garb and uniforms—he has the chops to tell us why Metro officers look sharp.
“You want people to have confidence in you, respect for you and a comfort level,” Wright says. “It’s serious.”
Mock turtleneck “I like an occasional mock turtleneck; it’s okay with the right jacket. This is probably for warmth more than anything. If you want to get into psychology, that has an authoritarian, almost educator effect.”
Shirt “You can guarantee that they’ve done a lot of research on the fit for these. It’s hard; you’re trying to get the closest fit for as many people as you can. … There’s no nonsense—it’s got big, functional patch pockets with the pleated inset and flap over the top, epaulettes. … They immediately say: authority figure.”
Color scheme “These colors are better for wear and tear, for dirt and dust in the desert. … As much as they want to be recognized for their authority, they also go for that subtlety.”
Jacket “The badge is prominent. That’s probably part of the design here, those details of authority, those pockets with the brass buttons, the patches.”
Pants “They seem to be some kind of jodhpur, a more fitted and tapered pant for riding. … You think of CHiPs.”
Boots “I love black boots. I think they’d be awesome, but they don’t look like they fit very well. They’re super-clunky. I like the equestrian-style ones that fit through the ankle so you don’t get some of that buckling and fold.”
Overall look (motorcycle-with boots) “I like the motorcycle look. I really do. ... Especially when you add the turtleneck and the gold helmet, he’s got stylish accents.”
Overall look (formal-with jacket) “There are a few elements that they have done for style: Dressing him up with his white gloves, white shirt and tie, the peaked cap. You think about pilots, servicemen and police officers wearing hats like that.”