British Police – A Most Arresting Fancy Dress Theme

Robert Peel conceived the notion of a police force in London which began patrolling the streets on September 29, 1829. These Victorian policemen or Peelers, as they were more commonly known, worked seven days a week and were expected to wear their police uniform whether on duty or not. This was accepted as being part of a Peelers strictly controlled lifestyle and was designed to reduce public suspicion that they were being spied upon.

Throughout the history of the police force in the UK, the bobby has dressed in a style that conveyed a certain image to both the members of the public and villains alike. The earliest policemen were dressed in a manner so as to avoid them being confused with the military. They dressed in blue tail-coats and top hats, uncommon today but almost the norm in Victorian London.

The blue of these early costumes was lighter than that we see a policeman wearing today and the high collared tail-coat was worn over a leather stock around the neck – as worn by the military rank and file, to protect against strangulation. The Peelers top hat, also known as a stovepipe or chimney pot hat was in fact especially hardened so as to offer the wearer both protection from being hit in the head as well as, so it is said, to have provided the officer with a portable step-up whenever required.

Along with this coat and hat, the officer would have provided his own white trousers and this was the practice until the early 1860s. To prevent confusion with the naval service, white bars were added to the sleeves of the coat.

Today we expect a policeman to be equipped with all manner of electronic communications devices but originally rather than a whistle, which wasn’t introduced until the 1880s; a Peeler was issued with a rattle in-order to summon assistance. Truncheons and a pair of handcuffs have been part of the bobby’s standard issue from the start.

With only minor differences, the uniform of the UK police forces is very similar and the iconic conical helmet which is standard for male constables and sergeants whilst they are on foot patrol. Women wear the bowler styled hat and no they don’t have a pink version!

As a fancy dress costume party theme, a police uniform party is a fantastic choice. This is a uniform that everyone likes to wear both men and women and for those that like to be bad, there is a huge selection of both men’s and women’s convict or prisoner costumes.

The range of police accessories is huge and these often get used way after the party is over. For hen nights, there has been a rush to launch an entire range of pink merchandise including costumes, pink police badges, pink truncheons, pink handcuff earrings and pink topped stockings. You can be the most arresting person at the party.

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