Welcome to “What I Wear to Work.” A series on, you guessed it, who wears what to work. Would you like to be featured? See the bottom of this post for instructions. Mark has been a member of the US Air Force for the past 16 years, serving 11 years on Active Duty and now on the home stretch as a full-time member of the Reserves. Currently in Maryland, he enjoys a variety of hobbies, including as much travel as he can fit into his schedule (see his photojournals over on Dappered Threads), camping, hunting, taking in DC nightlife, participating in an annual Tough Mudder (this year’s event in Boston at the end of June), the occasional rave here and there, and he’s even been known to badly impersonate a horse now and then. A relative newcomer to the world of men’s style, he’s found a niche and rocks it whenever he can, from dressing for brunch in NYC, Michelin-rated dining around the country, Embassy black-tie parties, and everything in between.
The Shirt: Under Armour Heat Gear Compression-Fit Tactical Shirt – $28.99. Let’s get straight to the point: it’s summer, and this place used to be a swamp. It’s humid. REALLY humid. Yes, it’s true, cars and buildings and such are air conditioned and lovely these days. However, where I park is close to a full MILE from the door of the building in which I work. And even though I’m usually in the gym by 5:30-6:00 every morning, it’s still ridiculous by 7:30 when I’m walking to the office. Give me 120* in Vegas any day over 90* in Maryland. Maybe I’m just getting old, who knows (I am). The UA Heat Gear isn’t cheap, but if you have an outlet mall near you (I’m fortunate enough to live 3 miles from their main distribution center which happens to have a “factory seconds” store, typically logos are wonky) you can usually grab these for less than half price. They also come in a rainbow of colors, although I stick with tan because that’s what the the regulation says.
The Hat: Tru-Spec OCP Patrol Cap – $12.95. This is the “summer weight” version, though I wear it year round. It just doesn’t get cold enough in Maryland most of the time to justify the winter weight version, and if it gets cold enough for me to forego the patrol cap altogether, I have a fleece beanie in the proper color spec. Comes with hook-and-loop on the back for a name tape, presumably so Sergeant Major can shout your name when he’s behind you and you did something to make him mad, instead of just “HEY YOU!” and running to catch up with you. Clever idea, always thinking of making life easier for our senior leadership.
The Blouse: True-Spec OCP Blouse – $69.95. As with all things OCP, I prefer the summer weight items as it’s easy to layer cold-weather gear (waffle knit top, long-sleeve shirts, etc) underneath if needed, and if it’s REALLY bad we have a really great cold-weather system nowadays, which is a welcome change from—yes, I’m really going to say this—back in the old days. Dozens of different layers and configurations make it pretty much impossible to ever be cold if you have the proper stuff, so everyone tends to utilize the True-Spec blouse and trousers. Pockets on the sleeves, pockets on the chest, and hook-and-loop everywhere mean lots of real estate for patches, memo notebooks, pens, snacks…whatever your heart desires. They even have large pockets on the elbows for the addition of elbow pads if you’re the type that enjoys low-crawling through the office. I do not.
The Trousers: True-Spec OCP Trousers – $69.95. Speak for themselves, really. I’m not one for being all matchy-match, but sometimes it’s not up to me. This would be one of those times. Eight pockets, two of them large enough for a full MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat), ensure that no Airman goes hungry between trips to the taco shop located just down the hall from the office.
The Belt: Spec-Ops Rigger’s Belt – $60 (depending on color and size). There are many less-expensive options for a belt, and I even have a few at the house. This just happens to be the one I’m currently wearing. I don’t presume to require the rigger portion of the belt; if things are bad enough I’m actually using it as intended, then let’s just say the situation has gotten *WAY* out of hand. But the fact remains I *AM* still able to be ordered to deploy with virtually no notice (as in, “Go home and pack, you leave at 4 AM tomorrow”), so this falls in the “better to have and not need, than need and not have” category.
The Boots: Bellville C790GTX in Coyote Brown – $173.99 (or, whatever your favorite desert sand clodhoppers tend to be). We get a lot of freedom with choice of footwear, and through the years (and three different colors of boot) these have been a favorite of mine. Back when we still polished our black boots, I had a slightly different model (as the new ones are suede instead of polished leather) but the choice of Gore-Tex Bellvilles has remained. One summer at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi Mississippi (where we arrived on the base during a tropical storm, and navigated the steps off the bus into 3-inch-deep water) taught me a very valuable lesson that waterproof footwear, in some situations, trumps just about anything else. Paired with a good sock, the waterproof membrane doesn’t really cause any overheating in my experience.
The Socks: Fox River Boot Socks – $30 (3-pack). By far my favorite boot sock—and over the years, I’ve tried several. The right combination of wicking and cushioning keeps my feet happy on those long walks from my car to work. I’ve even replaced a lot of my hiking/hunting/outdoorsy socks with these in various non-uniform-approved colors, they’re that comfy.
Bonus: Mystery Ranch 3-day Assault Pack – $399. Not cheap, but I have a healthy dose of Mystery Ranch gear these days and absolutely LOVE it. I wouldn’t utilize it for a strict backpacking trip where weight was a theme, as it’s extremely well-made and very durable…causing weight to be higher than your Gregory or North Face equivalents. But it’s the right color, holds all my clothing (gym-work-etc) for the day, and there’s even room for my lunch—above and beyond the snack pockets all over my uniform! My favorite part of the pack though is the hook-and-loop panel near the top, which allows me to express myself through the application of “morale patches”. The current patch which adorns my 3-day simply says “I only joined for the discounts” – injects a little humor into a job which can range from dull to…well let’s just say not every day is peaches and ice cream.
A huge thank you to Mark for submitting his What I Wear to Work, as well as for his service (and sense of humor). Head over to LinkedIn to discuss this with your coworkers or follow Dappered if you want to see these in your feed. If you want to take this for a spin, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with who you are, what you do, and what you’d like to submit. To be featured, we’ll need a picture of you at work, as well as the details on what you’re wearing/usually wear on the job. Final image will have to be cropped down to 1500×840 pixels, so, keep that in mind when shooting. Landscape mode please, and let’s keep anything from the chin up out of it. Note that sending an email with your picks and a pic doesn’t guarantee publishing. Be yourself! And get your employer’s permission if you’re gonna get specific with your place of work.