Uniforms: When to Wear What?


Police officers wear a variety of clothing, and situation dictates what to wear and when they wear it. The officer in the image above is wearing a Class B uniform. Class B’s are the outfits worn for general street duty. The material tough and made to withstand the daily grind of patrol duty.

Class A uniforms are also known as full dress uniforms. These suits are complete with all the bells and whistles – medals, ribbons, pins, braids, and cords – and are normally worn for official ceremonies, such as the presentation of awards and when attending funerals.

However, many departments do not issue separate class A and class B uniforms. In those departments, officers interchange the two, wearing Class B uniforms for both ceremonies and for daily patrol wear.

BDU’s (battle dress uniforms are generally worn by SWAT officers, members of search warrant entry teams, and other emergency response teams. Battle dress uniforms offer extra protection for the wearer, as well as compartments for the various gear that’s required for special assignments.


Uniforms may also be adapted for climate needs.

Uniforms are also available with special pouches for donut fans.

10 replies
  1. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Queen. I did make Eagle Scout. I also worked as a boy scout camp counselor, teaching archery and rifle and shotgun.

    The pride lasts forever, Terry. I still have many of my scouting items, too. I used to have a patch collection, but gave them to a young scout a few years ago.

  2. Terry
    Terry says:

    Living in Florida, I see the deputies in shorts all the time. It’s their choice, so I have to think it’s more comfortable for them. I agree it’s not a fashion plus. But at least here, most of the cops who opt for shorts don’t have white legs.

    Queen, I’m also the mother of an Eagle Scout. When we were going through our attic (crawlspace, actually) to clear clutter for our move, I came across his box with his sash, badges, and all those belt thingies. All dutifully packed and shipped to him. I saw them on his Facebook page the other day, so I think the pride sticks with him.

  3. queenofmean
    queenofmean says:

    Did you make Eagle, Lee? I can tell you, as the mother of an Eagle Scout, it’s a very proud moment when you can stand up there beside your son as he is honored for his accomplishments.

  4. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    jm – Some detectives – those who can – wear uniforms for special occasions. However, there are several reasons that would make it unlikely that the suits would ever wear their old uniforms – the spare tire around the midsection that develops over time, and longer hair styles that are sometimes permitted for plainclothes officers. When in uniform, hair must be more closely cropped.

    Elena – You are absolutely right. The same is true for the military and for the boy scouts (I was a boy scout and loved every minute of it).

    queen – Wearing a vest and all the other tools of the trade makes an officer appear extremely top heavy when wearing shorts. I’m thinking the lady was mad because she was forced to see those legs!

  5. queenofmean
    queenofmean says:

    I do agree that the shorts don’t look all that attractive. Maybe something could be done about the socks! I’m guessing with the vest & everything, he’s pretty warm & airing out whatever he can. He probably doesn’t care too much about how it looks.

    I just wonder what the hell the lady behind the donut guy is doing. Did he take all the donuts or what?

  6. Elena
    Elena says:

    ROTFL – It’s my strange mind Lee, but your descriptions worked perfectly for the choices of uniforms we had when I worked for the Girl Scouts. All ours, from top level dress (tailored wool suit, no patches, just pins), down to ‘battle dress’ (aka camping gear), were available in any color as long as it was green.

  7. jmreinbold
    jmreinbold says:

    Hello, Lee

    I’m new here and I must say your blog and website are interesting and very informative.

    My question is: When do plain clothes officers/detectives wear their uniforms? Would that also be for ceremonies and funerals?

  8. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    I agree, Joyce. Uniform shorts are a bit silly looking.

    Will – Vests are normally fitted for the wearer, but in a pinch any vest is better than no vest.

    * Sorry for all the slow responses, but we’re moving and right now I’m posting comments from our RV in a campground deep in the heart of North Carolina.

  9. Joyce Tremel
    Joyce Tremel says:

    Loved that last one!

    I know they’ve got to be more comfortable, but the uniform shorts just look plain dorky to me, especially with the black socks and shoes. And there are a lot of cops who just shouldn’t wear shorts. Ever.

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