Velcro for VAR Engineers

When I was younger, I must have watched The Delta Force about a hundred times. One of the things I loved in that movie was the uniforms the Delta guys wore. Jet black, covered in cargo pockets, and very useful. The most compelling feature, however, was the velcro on the shoulders and chest. The Delta troopers could remove the patches on their uniforms whenever they needed to be anonymous, then put them back on at will. I loved this idea. As time has gone on, I’ve notice the same kind of capability on the new military BDUs. Rank insignia, unit affiliation, and even the name tag are all velcro patches that can be removed, reapplied, and changed as needed.

This idea of configurable uniforms finally hit home for me the other day when I was going through my closet looking for a vendor-specific shirt. Yes, I know that Greg has decried the plumage of the vendor in a previous blog post, but as a VAR I’m a bit hamstrung. Sometimes, I need to put on my Aruba shirt or my Cisco jacket or my Aerohive tuxedo. Customers feel a bit reassured when you’re wearing a shirt from a company that you’re pitching. However, I’ve noticed that all these shirts seem to start looking alike after a while. I have the same Dri-Fit Nike polo shirt with four different vendor logos. I have the same dark blue polo with three other different vendor logos. I think I have a Cisco shirt in every color of the rainbow. I even have shirts that don’t fit anymore with fun old logos, like my Master CNE. Why do I need to have that many logo shirts in my closet? Why can’t I have a little more control over my VAR uniform?

That’s when it hit me. Let’s do the velcro configurability on vendor polo shirts. A velcro patch over the left breast and maybe another couple on the sleeves. Think of the possibilities. Now, instead of worrying about what vendor shirt I’m going to wear in the morning, I can just pick out the black one or the red one. Then, when I’m ready to brand myself, I just need to pick out the appropriate patch and slap it on the velcro. No fuss, no muss. If I wear the wrong vendor shirt today, it can cause some embarrasing issues. With the patch system, I just remove the errant patch and replace it in seconds. Much easier than trying to keep track of which shirt I shouldn’t be wearing to a particular site. You could even make a big show of it. When it’s time to get work done, make a big production of taking your patch out and slapping it on. When you need to be “off the record” about something, make a theatrical gesture of ripping the identification patch off your shirt as if to say, “I’m not with this company right now. Here’s what I think.” It would be practical as well as awesome.

Sure, there are details to work out. Even getting the vendors to start offering velcro patches would be a huge step in the right direction. I’m all for this, as it means I can finally take a little more control over my wardrobe. Now where did I put that sewing machine?

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