Many in and outside the security industry continue to maintain erroneous beliefs about how protective agents should dress. Usually, they make assumptions about dark business suits, white shirts, and conservative ties. This outfit may be acceptable and relevant in some instances. However, appropriate dressing in close protection is a substantially more complex topic than mere apparel.
First and foremost, foul or inappropriate language and abusive slogans are unsuitable for all occasions. In fact, we are familiar with a case of a protective agent showing up for work in a T-shirt showcasing indecent vocabulary. Suffice to say that the principal was not happy about it.
Yes, it is certainly worth considering the attire for the sake of the principal and their entourage. But in addition, appropriate dressing in close protection should also focus on the sensitivity of the general public. In this regard, many people identify strictly black suits with funerals or nightclub security. That is why the security team ought to be cognizant of all possible aspects affecting environmental perception.
Secondly, it must be understood that some outfits are simply inadequate and unsupportive in specific settings. For instance, corporate and field assignments carry with them particular attires. Thus, dressing to the environment comes to the fore in this regard, and here are a few examples:
- Corporate environment: we recommend RM Williams, Aquila, or similar shoes.
- Field assignments: we suggest comfortable wear such as Scarpas, Merrels, or similar hiking shoes.
If the protective agents dress incompatibly with their surroundings, they could adversely affect the principal’s safety. Furthermore, if the principal requires them to change costumes for different functions, they should consider it. The reason is that the principal may be better informed of what “proper attire” entails at high-level events, especially if particular dress requirements are necessary.
Blending Into the Environment
Interestingly, it is possible to overdress or excel in dressing, thereby drawing attention away from the principal. For example, some protectees may wear AUD200 ties, AUD700 shirts, and four times more expensive suits. Outdressing the principal is never a good idea as it will draw undue attention from both the principal and those around them.
Hence, we recommend picking ties, footwear, and suits just a bit below the quality and style of the principal’s apparel. The same applies to casual dressing, when it may be necessary to wear jeans and T-shirts. For instance, during an NGO visit to a distant village, it is helpful to dress for the occasion and the environment and not prepare as if securing a corporate event in downtown Brisbane or Jakarta.
But what happens if it is necessary to carry a firearm during an assignment? There are many quality covert conceal holsters on the market which should be trailed on the range in similar attire as one would wear on a security detail to ensure that it meets the standard required for protection.
When dressing to the environment, consider the following items of clothing:
- Sunglasses with polarised lenses and a UV rating of 300 or greater from functional fashion brands like Porsche Design, EyeDope, Banana Republic, or lower profile lenses from Oakley or Ray-Ban.
- Shirts should be 100% cotton, as they hold their shape and breathe better.
- Suit fabrics sometimes fall into categories of Super 100s, 140s, and so on. The higher the number, the lighter and more refined the cloth, including a higher price tag. This is especially important for warmer months due to its lightweightness. In addition, when trying on a suit in the store, the protective agents should make sure to look for a good fit in their “natural stance.”
Briefcases and Dressing in Close Protection
Different security specialists will have to execute various tasks, hence the diverse outfits. For instance, a protective surveillance professional needs to engage in static and mobile activities in order to obtain information. For this purpose, they would immediately stand out if wearing a 511 tactical tuxedo. Yet, dressing in shoes, slacks, and a button-down shirt would make all the difference and assist in blending into the environment. Appearances matter!
Similarly, briefcases are part of appropriate dressing in close protection. In fact, some protective agents carry a bag with support equipment, including AED, medical, spare ammunition (where appropriate), batteries, and others. In this case, we advise using a briefcase or backpack that does not appear covert or tactical. It may be appropriate, instead, to buy an ordinary leather briefcase and modify its inside to meet the protective staff’s requirements.
The critical part to remember here is to keep the outside appearance of the bag intact and only transform the compartments inside.
In addition, female executive protection agents are perceived as more natural when carrying bags, which the security team should use to its advantage.
Note: A rule of thumb is to never stand out from the baseline, as that will make the security team be identified as just that – the security team. In some instances, it may prove beneficial for some protective agents to be conspicuous as visual deterrents and others to remain covert. Such events include music concerts and other live events featuring crowds.
Casualness draws little interest. If the security staff cruises with the principal in a brand new, luxury-type SUV, they are more likely to bring attention to themselves. The same applies to appropriate dressing in close protection.
For instance, suppose the protector assumes a casual posture in terms of clothing and an outward attitude toward the principal. In that case, they may appear to be their close friend, business associate, or companion. Such perception helps, as it raises no particular alarm in the general population, which could well happen if the on-duty security professional were perceived as such.
In sum, here are the main takeaways from this article:
- Upholding the dress code for high-level events and checking for protocol items related to dressing well in advance,
- Considering sporting, informal activities, or beach functions as events for casual dressing,
- Do not overdress or out-dress the principal,
- Do not draw attention from the principal.
Companies like Panoptic Solutions support individuals and organisations in enhancing productivity and peace of mind by offering unmatched close protection services.