Bulletproof Vests: The Hot New Item For Educators!

It’s almost winter break: time to grade papers, administer final exams, and start thinking about your sartorial choices for the spring semester. Female educators face particular challenges when it comes to clothing. Dress casually, and you’re deemed dowdy. Spend too much time on your appearance, and you’re considered superficial. So what is the key piece this spring season that can keep you ahead of the game?

A sleek bulletproof vest.

That’s right: a bulletproof vest — also called a ballistic vest, a bullet-resistant vest, or absolutely adorable — is the perfect complement to those staple pieces you can’t live without: your jean jacket, simple black blazer, and army green anorak. Yes, given the epidemic of civilians being massacred with weapons of war in this great nation of ours, it’s time to move from army-inspired clothing to actual army clothing!

A Kevlar bulletproof vest is the investment piece of the season. Formerly reserved for soldiers, law enforcement agents, and security guards, bulletproof vests are making the exciting transition to the classroom. It’s always a thrill to incorporate unexpected pieces into your daily wardrobe.

Think of an investment piece in terms of its versatility and value. You know the scenario: your closet is bulging with trendy items from past seasons that you no longer wear. But a sumptuous Kevlar bulletproof vest will never go out of style, because this country is taking no steps at all to reduce gun violence.

At about $200–500, you’ll want to wear your bulletproof vest often to get your money’s worth, but that shouldn’t be a problem as your classroom is one of the most dangerous places you can be. Your vest will not only provide you with a sense of security as you perform your high-risk job as an educator, but also give you that extra pep in your step that says: damn, I look fabulous.

There are several things to keep in mind as you select a bulletproof vest. Will it pair well with the everyday basics that are already in your wardrobe? What is its ballistic level? And will it transition well from work to evening cocktails or a movie, where you may also be shot?

Body armor may seem unfeminine — what am I, a chivalric knight?! — but given our culture’s pervasive misogyny and the fact that the NRA controls all things, nothing could be more suited to you. You’ll want to pick out a vest that is reliable, affordable, and downright gorgeous. And body armor is great for women of all shapes and sizes. It’s super body-positive — and particularly fabulous for lady educators who work in states where their students can legally carry guns into the classroom. Or those states that will soon vote yes on these laws!

But how do you know which vest is most fashion-forward? Here are some suggestions to help you get the most bang for your fashion buck — and I don’t mean bang like you getting shot at the chalkboard.

Coolmax Carrier Vest by Safeguard Clothing
Coolmax Carrier Vest by Safeguard Clothing

The stunning COOLMAX carrier vest is breathable and comfortable and offers unobtrusive and discreet protection as you lecture on Shakespeare’s sonnets and wonder if an angry young man is going to open the door to the classroom and kill everyone. Comfort is important in choosing a vest, but you don’t want to sacrifice style. Revolutionary elastomer technology is the new Spanx — it’s a total delight.

With its V-neck and detachable neoprene strips for a bespoke fit, the show-stopping Lady Shield has ballistic panels that wrap around like a Diane von Furstenberg. This lightweight vest is great if you don’t want the extra bulk under your spring trench coat. And it won’t weigh you down as you lecture on Moby Dick and wonder if you will die in the next hour and 15 minutes.

You can also “protect your precious curves” in an exquisite Armor Corr Ladies Ranger Bulletproof Vest Level IIIA. At just 3.25 pounds, you’ll hardly know it’s there while you talk about Tennyson, and the shirttail suggests the sophistication of menswear.

There are also some delightful knife-proof fashion options. A stab-proof vest involves a much tighter weave — like a lovely tweed suit. Knife resistance really adds that extra something to your look and suggests that you’re confident enough to fail a student or tell him you know he plagiarized his paper without fear of repercussion. Throw caution to the wind, and just do your job! The addition of chainmail laminate is also a striking embellishment — but not striking in the sense of you being struck by a bullet.

So how do you accessorize your bulletproof vest? I suggest a bold statement necklace and a ballistic helmet in a nice camo. A timeless classic worn by ancient Greek and Roman warriors, a helmet covers the front, back, and sides of the head evenly, so you don’t really have to do your hair. Some combat helmets even provide extra room for communication of special operations, so you’ll be able to address difficult and sometimes uncomfortable questions about race, gender, and class without taking it off. Paratroopers are a real fashion inspiration: their lighter helmets won’t leave you too sweaty after a day of discussing the value of a liberal arts education.

Most vests only come in black and white, allowing you to streamline and simplify your look for the season. A black vest is always a sleek, urban option (very “downtown”), and a crisp, clean white vest says: my blood will not be splashed all over this. Some vests can even be worn under your clothing if you don’t want your students to know that you’re actually scared of them. Other vests have removable ballistic panels if you’re going for a more minimalist approach.

Body Armor Level II Vest
Body Armor Level II Vest by Second Chance

Not ready to take the plunge and spend upwards of $500 to keep yourself from being murdered while doing your job? Good news: there are plenty of vintage bulletproof vests on eBay, although you’ll probably want to make sure that no one was shot in the retro option you select. This beautiful Body Armor Level II vest from the 2003 season features trauma plate pockets in an attractive shade of navy. Pockets are always in style and suggest a casual, devil-may-care approach to fashion that belies your deep anxiety that you won’t survive your office hours. They also bring to mind all the American politicians who are in the pocket of the NRA.

So when you head to the mall this holiday season, look out for the bulletproof vest that is the perfect design for you and the ghastly world you inhabit. Come to think of it, I suggest that you order your vest online and wear it to the mall, as you’ll likely be shot there, too. Happy shopping!

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

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