How to Properly Wear a Police Dress Uniform

The police uniform shows identification, authority, professionalism and unity. A police officer in full dress uniform is known as one of the sharpest-looking people around. It is each officer’s responsibility to maintain a clean, neat uniform in good repair, and to know how to wear that uniform properly. Each department has its own regulations for wearing dress uniforms, but most have similar specifications as to uniform appearance and insignia placement.


Start with a clean uniform. Wash the uniform inside-out in detergent and warm water. Line-dry or dry the uniform on a rack or hangers to avoid setting stains and shrinking the uniform. If a dryer is used, remove the uniform immediately to avoid excessive wrinkling.

Set up the ironing board. Prepare the iron, using water for steam models; place it on the “cotton” setting. Iron the uniform inside-out, applying a sufficient amount of starch as needed to achieve a clean, crisp look. Creases should be sharp; in fact, some shirts have sewn-in military creases.

Wear the long-sleeved dress shirt with the collar buttoned and the tail nicely tucked into the trousers. Each "service stripe" or "hash mark" on the lower left sleeve indicates five years of service. A dickey or turtleneck shirt may be worn underneath the shirt. Wear a dark blue or black clip-on tie with a plain tie clasp. Some departments allow a dress sweater with patches to be worn over the uniform shirt, in lieu of a tie.

Use a clothing brush to remove any lint or dust from the uniform. Masking tape or sticky lint rollers may help with stubborn particles.

Polish and position collar brass, nameplate and insignia. Nameplates should be worn on the top of the pocket seam and centered, using the button as the center point. The police badge should be centered just above the left shirt pocket. Wear no more than three pins at a time on the dress uniform as a general rule. The issued whistle and chain may be worn by uniformed officers, with the end of the whistle chain secured to the right epaulet. The chain should hang down with the whistle resting inside the pocket.

Black or dark blue socks should be worn with the dress uniform. Remove dust from dress shoes or boots with a stiff brush. Polish shoes, boots and other leather accessories to a gloss using black shoe polish and a cloth. Apply a small amount of warm water and buff with another clean, soft cloth. Use a soft shoe brush to achieve a high luster.

Wear the authorized polyester, serge or wool-blend dress jacket or coat specified by departmental policy. Wear a dress uniform hat or cap appropriate to the season. Gloves and overcoats may be worn during inclement weather.