Like many people who work in Washington DC, I am a transplant. However, I don’t work for a congressman or a law firm. I walk a foot beat in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods as a member of the Metropolitan Police Department.
I grew up on the South Shore of Massachusetts and credit my personal style largely to my late grandfather, who himself worked a blue-collar job for 25 years with the Bay State Gas Company. But in his personal life he dressed like a Kennedy. In high school, when many people my age were wearing American Eagle graphic tees and basketball sneakers to school, I was wearing LL Bean OCBDs and Sperry Top-Siders. Even my own mother seemed a little perplexed by it when she took me shopping for my Confirmation outfit when I was a sophomore in high school. I picked out a blue blazer and gray flannel trousers instead of a garish four-button ventless suit that was in fashion at the time.
I graduated from the police academy in April, 2012 and am presently assigned to a very busy district with a high rate of violent crime. As a result, I end up in DC Superior Court for trials and other matters at least once a week. In the beginning I wore my police uniform for most of my court appearances. However, after being flagged down one too many times for various nonsense, I decided quickly to wear professional attire to court to blend in a little more easily.
It didn’t take long for word of my buttondown collar shirts and Weejuns to spread among my fellow officers and the attorneys. I am now affectionately known as “Penny Loafer” or “The Professor.” Jokes aside, my style does elicit many compliments from people, and I actually think it may help me when appearing before a jury, as they can see me as a person like they are and not just a cop.
Of course, as a civil servant I have to buy on a budget. But I keep an eye on thrift shops, eBay, outlet stores, and online stores such as Lands’ End and LL Bean. But I’m hoping to make detective later this year ,and I’m told investigators get a healthy clothing allowance.
While my style is referred to by many as Ivy or preppy, I personally think of it more as simply New England or Yankee. When people ask me why I dress the way I do, I often quip, “Where I come from, this is how people dress.” People from all over the world come to Washington, bringing their cultures and traditions, and my manner of dress is just my little thing that tells people where I’m from. I think I also do it to honor my late grandfather. Sadly, he didn’t live to see me become a police officer, but I think he’d be very proud that I dedicated myself to this honorable profession.
It’s a tough time to work in law enforcement right now, but I do my best to use my position to remind people that police work is all about helping people. That’s what I set out to do every day when slip off my boat shoes and lace up my boots to start another shift. — DC COP
I expect London copper “woofboxer” to follow up with his own story.
agree with the above poster re: scrotum
Great story. The man is comfortable in his own skin, knows who he is, and where he is coming from. Clear thinking means clean prose, and that prose is straightforward and clean.
It’s damn near impossible to find pants with anything but a low, or medium if you’re lucky, rise these days, especially on a budget. If anyone knows a secret please share, but I have had to save up to buy Bill’s Kahkis for pants that aren’t cut for a 16 year old boy who likes his underwear to peek out every time he takes his seat….
And I didn’t notice the ‘split’ until you mentioned… Gee, thanks for that!
To the officer: Glad to see you are sticking with the style you grew up with… Good luck on the promotion!
Keep up the good fight! Lt. Mike Stone on the Streets of SF would be proud.
Christian – he’s worthy of his own article: http://www.thestreetsofsanfrancisco.net/index.php/old-media.
I am curious about what town he grew up in on the South Shore. Certainly he is working in one of the higher crime cities. I had my office there for 15 years and know how tough it is; he is one of our true unsung heros!
It is the easiest thing in the world to find chinos/khakis with a proper, “gentleman’s”, rise.
There are sources called Lands’ End and L.L. Bean which may be unfamiliar to some.
What’s a woofboxer, Christian?
A username. With a person behind it I’ve actually met.
Many thanks, @DC Cop for a great post. My hat is off to you. As a former resident of both Massachusetts and Washington, I thank you for your service in a dangerous and often thankless job and, as a lawyer, I think you are very probably correct about the favorable impression your clothing choice makes on the jury. Too many people follow the slovenly path of least resistance (such as the garish suit you wisely avoided as a teenager), and are not aware that it is possible both to act and dress like a gentleman, whatever one’s budget. Your grandfather would be proud. I hope to hear that you are “Detective Penny Loafer” soon. You have my very best wishes.
Well I never; an actual London rozzer who you’ve met. Ivy Style never fails to surprise and entertain.
Why is that “preppy?” Because he’s wearing a blue blazer and khakis?
First, I’d like to say, I was no where near DC for the whole month of January.
Secondly, thanks for the post.
Cops still help people??? Who knew…
What type of shirt is this called above? Light blue vertical stripes with smaller white accent stripes–I have seen them at LL Bean but am wondering if this particular style has a name that I’m not aware of. Thanks!
When I sold clothing many decades ago we called that a “bar striped” OCBD.
Those were the only kind of striped oxford shirts I could find in L.A. in the 1960s, when what I wanted were the university stripe/candy stripe shirts that were being worn back East.
Not a good look.
The pant rise is what everyone from RL to LL Bean are selling, it’s what is mostly available, but not my cup of tea. That said, when has cotton drills, OCBD and a blazer been a bad look? It’s a classic.
Ha! I salute you DC Cop. I work for a law enforcement agency in London and I regularly visit Scotland Yard deploying sack cut, natural shoulder and button down. Let’s be careful out there!
@MAC – or anyone who is looking for reasonable quality chinos with an acceptable rise I recommend Orvis Ultimate Slim Fit Khakis. Despite the unpromising connotations of the slim fit moniker they have a slim, but not overly slim, profile and sit on the natural waist. My size 34W pair have a front rise of just about 12″, the quality is somewhere between Bean and Bills. They’re not made in the USA but for $98 you can’t have everything!
Fantastic to hear of law enforcement officers embracing the buttoned down look.
If you can get over the non-iron treatment, Lands’ End offers regular and long rise chinos for around $50. They wore Sta-Prest back in the day, I’ve come to terms with treated pants.
Re: “They wore Sta-Prest back in the day”
We certainly did, and we had fused collars back then, too.
Interesting how some of today’s self-styled Ivy purists are totally unaware of this.
I’m pretty much sold on the O’Connells reg rise drills at $100 a pop. I stay away from “slim fit” anything. I was a middle linebacker in college, it took me till my 30s to atrophy enough to get my thighs and fat ass into a pair of 501s. 😉
When confronted with “slim fit” this photo always pops into my head.
MAC I agree, ‘slim fit’ normally signifies awful spray on hip hugging trousers which why I was surprised that the Orvis khakis were so good. Going into the sixth decade the days when I could get away with wearing tight trousers are long gone!
I appreciate the kind words, gents.
With regard to my pants, I definitely have a bit of moose knuckle going on there. I didn’t really notice at first. But I’ll be the first to admit that I put on a little winter weight so the pants are a little snug through the seat and thighs. What can ya do?
Dutch Uncle, I think you’d get a kick out of this:
“The convincer in my decision to quit buying National Review was the disgusting appearance of Editor Bill Buckley on TV with his seedy-looking Schickelgruber-Beatnik hairdo and sloppy-collared shirts…convince Buckley to get a non-sloppy haircut [and] a clean, Perma-Press shirt with a non-comical collar…”
From a 1972 letter to the National Review staff quoted in WFB Jr.’s Notes and Asides, compiled in “Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription”. Truly amusing read, I laughed out loud multiple times in public places while perusing its pages!
P.S. I can’t see your internet sobriquet and not think of the stories I’ve been told about my own Dutch great-uncle Hans. Apparently he was sailing one day and was approached by a dozen or so other boats, all aboard waving at him. Being good-natured, he waved back and greeted them in his thick Dutch accent.
As they got closer someone else on board his boat realized the sailors were yelling at him and frantically gesturing for him to get out of the way of their race. When they passed his boat the racers gestured at him again with different intentions.
Oxford Cloth Comical Collar.
Ignoring the first three negative comments, great article. I too am from Marxachusetts and grew up dressing the same way from childhood. He’s lucky as was I, to have a role model to show me how to dress properly. My father was a cop, but also knew how to dress formally and on his off time
Where I grew up, there were basically to ways to dress traditional or greaser. it certainly made things a heck of a lot easier when shopping for new clothes!
“wearing American Eagle graphic tees and basketball sneakers to school” sadly some things never change.
I remember when American eagle made some very nice stuff, especially their cotton sweaters.
We need shopping-mall Americana to serve as a bridge that leads the young to trad. Without JCP’s American Living and Stafford Prep, and Abercrombie, etc., young people will surrender entirely to European fast fashion from Zara, H&M, and the others.
I agree. The cops on “The Streets of San Francisco” were very well dressed. Michael Douglas had an ivy look years later as a detective in Basic Instinct.
I second the Orvis recommendation. The regular fit, which I wear, is much looser than most other brands out there and fits my generously proportioned waist very well. So, it would make sense that their slim fit is a lot less slim than others.
In addition, the Ultimate Khaki cloth is so heavy you’d think it was bulletproof, which, I suppose, would be a strong selling point for the future detective. He should keep an eye out for their end-of-season sales.
One other thing: Orvis is now selling a reasonably priced 3-button blue gingham sport coat, but it does not appear to be a sack and it’s a cotton-poly blend. Nonetheless, I’m planning to check it out soon at their store. It’s supposed to very light, a must in Austin’s long hot summers.
Christian, you pose a plausible point however I fear that most people my age are already beginning to shift to those European/trendy styles I loathe. American Eagle does have decent clothes, compared to Zara or H&M, but they’re getting trendier as if they’re trying to keep up with them, sadly.
Mr. McConnell, I recently bought a heavily discounted flannel shirt from AE and it is of fairly good quality. The only down side is that it’s a little too short to stay tucked in, which lets you know that the brand is moving in a trendy direction.
More young people should just shop around on eBay, they have great deals and you can even haggle with sellers sometimes. I just bought two 70’s Polo sweaters; one shawl collared cardigan and one Fair Isle sweater for a song and a dance.
I second the call for trad shopping mall alternatives to the Euro-influence. I just got out of a meeting with a colleague who was wearing Italian-made double monks, sockless, with skinny pants and a patterned pull-over sweater with a zip neck over a dress shirt and tie. I’m sure he paid a lot for clothes that will be as out-of-style in a couple of years as a 70s disco suit and platform shoes. I may not be fashionable, exactly, but my Brooks sack suit, white tab collar shirt, repp stripe tie and cordovan shoes are as stylish now as they were 30 years ago, and I will still look well dressed in them 10 years from now. In 10 years, his outfit will be in a landfill somewhere.
Charlottesville, it is sad to see that Americans have taken to fast fashion so easily when our clothes were once celebrated worlds over.
GS — Agreed. I’m not sure when men started following fads and gravitating toward “designer” fashions, rather than classics. I suppose there have always been some who did, but most business and professional men I knew 20 years or so ago (excluding a few like me who really enjoy clothes) didn’t have much interest in style or fashion, and yet still dressed fairly well, if not perhaps Ivy. Most wore decent shoes, and wool or wool-blend suits or sport coats with a dress shirt and tie of the Dress-for-Success type. Today, dress at the local Bar Association meeting is as likely to include fleece and denim as tweed and flannel. Dress among the university and tech crowd is even worse. The few who care about clothing have been seduced by the tight, skinny look, and Jos. A. Bank sale khakis and a non-iron shirt is about as dressy as most of the others get these days
Charlottesville, I think there are a number of reasons why we are in a sartorial slump and I’m afraid that things won’t be getting better anytime soon. The overall quality of most accessible clothing is poor, even if it isn’t fast fashion, and people are encouraged to throw away their clothes at the first sign of wear and tear. What happened to the the inherently American Yankee frugality of wearing clothes until the were damn near tattered? Now we have an abundance of non-iron, wrinkle free fabrics that add the general laziness of most modern Americans. Cobblers are disappearing as most people wear cheap, rubber soled shoes that are just thrown away instead of being repaired. I think that people need to be taught about quality and about how you can buy an expensive item and have it last a lifetime or go for the quick, cheap buy and have to keep spending money. As for style, most everything is trendy and even the American mall brands are becoming trendy. Mainstream classic style for Americans is dead; we now have low rises, slim legs and low quality. There are just too many things that have gone wrong and I don’t now what can correct all of this.
GS — Agreed that it is probably too late to turn around the culture at large, but hopefully, we can rescue a few strays along the way. As for Yankee frugality, you are right again, although I note that my Virginia mother and NY father also embraced that outlook.
I dress very similar to you when at work as a government inspector, complete with the knitted neckties; I love the blazers, as I can hide my radio under it so it is not so apparent who I am.