Fashion statement: Lose the weight
In June the Boston Globe extolled how clothing designers’ fall lines will be replete not only with pleats but with a plethora of pockets. These pockets will be tailored for assorted personal wireless devices: pagers, cellphones, radios, PDAs and portable CD players. Rather than disguising this electronic armory, the fashions will make the pouch the focal point. Some garments will even connect to the devices and glow or strobe-sort of a wearable GUI, announcing an incoming page, call or email. (Not in the theaters, please.)
I remember a similar fashion forecast in 1970. Life magazine commissioned fashion guru Rudi Gernreich (Remember the topless swimsuit?) to forecast ’70s wardrobes. Gernreich’s unisex look seems hopelessly silly now, but some of his predictions were dead-on, such as pastel hair, vanity colored contact lenses and “a combination wristwatch, weather indicator, compass and radio” incorporated into a wristband. (And not a cell site in sight, yet.)
For decades, the wearing of a tie to work or meetings signaled status, rank or importance within the organization. Women were left to their own devices, but now electronic devices make business a little more egalitarian. The visibility or flourishing of a cellphone has arguably replaced the suit-and-tie as a token of how important you are (or think you are). It says that you must be available “24-7” because of what you know or what indispensable service you provide.
Another recent fashion article is a bit more martial: Popular Science’s July cover story on the well-dressed foot soldier of 2025. Besides body armor and wrist-mounted weapons pods, the prototype includes a full-face helmet with voice and data communications, night vision, 3608 sensors, heads-up displays and video screened on the faceshield. Iron Man never had it this good.
Whether or not the army gets this gladiatorial gladrag, it would be great for cops. It would eliminate the dead weight and motion restraint associated with the utility-belt gizmos officers must carry: multiple handcuff sets, firearms, ammunition, a flashlight, a baton, keys, pepper spray and-lest we forget our side of the street-a portable radio, an epaulet mic, a wireless body mic and remote controls for audio, video and lightbar equipment on the patrol cruiser. Batman makes it look easy, but it takes a robust officer to run down a dark alley packing all that stuff. So, while we wait for clothing and uniform designers to trot out new wares, priorities in our industry should be miniaturization, weight reduction for portables and batteries, affordable ear-mics and vox controls. While we’re waiting for the millennium monkey suits, let’s get the monkey off the officer’s back.