Should You Dress Down to Avoid Crime?

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Written by Bernie Carr

Just a quick post today, as I share interesting tidbits of news that I have come across.

We’ve been hearing that violent crime has increased this year especially in large cities. So it is no surprise when I read that the Bank of America executives in New York City have warned their junior staffers to “dress down” to avoid attracting the attention of criminals.

These execs have told their staffers that dressing up, or wearing anything with a Bank of America logo, could make them a target. One bank employee told On The Money he is on high alert after he spotted someone with a knife near the office during a recent trek to the Manhattan workplace.

Of course, it’s not just Bank of America where worries over crime pervade. The city reported a 15 percent increase in felony assaults over the past 28 days, as of Nov. 28, when compared to the same period a year ago, according to NYPD statistics. (Murder rates have surged 42 percent over the past two years, but remained largely flat over the past year.)

One top executive at a large money management firm even recently began carrying a Taser as he commutes to his Midtown office, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told On The Money.


Does it make sense to dress down?

I would say, yes, it does make sense. If you want to avoid attracting attention, avoid wearing expensive clothes, flashy jewelry or carry a large expensive purse when you are out and about. To be more specific, dress in a manner similar to everyone else. This is the concept of being the “gray man.” It doesn’t mean you should dress like a homeless person, it just means blend in so you don’t stick out.

But dressing down is not the only protective measure you can do. It doesn’t do much good even if you try to blend in if you walk around with your head down, looking at your mobile phone.You need to be paying attention to at all times:

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Notice anything out of the ordinary. Notice if one or more persons are keeping the same pace as you, or are trying to approach you.
  • When driving or parking, be aware of what or who is around you.  Check the rear view mirror periodically in case you are being followed.
  • Don’t look like a victim. Have an alert attitude, hold your head up. Don’t appear distracted for one second. Appear confident in your body language.
  • Follow these tips if you are being followed.
  • Practice situational awareness exercises with your family.
  • If you decide to carry a weapon such as a Taser or pepper spray, make sure you know how to use it, and have it ready in your hand (not your pocket or purse) in case you need it.

For more information, read our previous posts, How to keep a low profile in urban situations and Avoid being targeted by criminals.

Do you worry about crime in your area? What are you doing to protect yourself? Please share in the comments below.

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Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Bernie’s latest e-book, FRUGAL DIY has just been released on Amazon. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.

Image by Hyein Nam from Pixabay

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  1. Going “Gray Man” is just being smart in these current times! In fact, the really proactive have been practicing this since lockdown. And rightly so!
    Do you own a rattle-bang piece of sh*t car? Does it run? If so, NOW would be a good time to get it up and running. Driving anything that looks detail-cleaned and like you’re carrying payments on it? Is a practical no-no.
    I have a 1996 GMC Savana conversion van that i almost got painted a couple years back. Got the estimate and appt made, then thought it through… Changed my mind. With what i knew was coming, i wanted the old tank to LOOK like a 4th hand day laborer’s vehicle. I never wash it either, just clean the windows for max visibility.
    I’m not a designer clothes wearer either… I’m an off-the- rack purchaser so staying gray was easy.
    Told my 2 twenty-something girls to stop dressing for “hottiness” when they go out. Advised em to avoid tight revealing clothing like leggings and tight low tops. Both are CC’d and armed, but best to avoid attracting attention in the first place. Both drive older vehicles that scream “low end working stiff” as well.
    Drawing any unneccesary attention to yourself is simply unwise right now, and as inflation and social/ political cohesion deteriorate, remaining visually flat is the smartest move for the forseeable future.

    1. Hi AK Johnny 1, I like the idea of driving the low-end car to avoid attracting attention. Cars do attract the wrong kind of attention already. Glad your 2 girls are getting good advice on avoiding revealing clothing, and go out armed. A lot of girls get victimized as it is. I appreciate the comment!

  2. Spot on. Basically, look like someone who doesn’t have much worth stealing and you won’t be a target. Of course we shouldn’t have to live this way, but realistically if you’re in a big city this is how it is and what you think of it doesn’t prevent you from being robbed or injured.

    During my lengthy bus commute I overheard conversations while reading my magazine about whose stuff looked expensive and whether they’d fight back. Seriously, right out in the open — and the people they were talking about were so immersed in their expensive electronics they still didn’t take notice.

    Wear your office clothes, but carry a mid range backpack or bag like you’d get at Target or Walmart, not a designer bag. Thieves know low-paid receptionists and clerks have to dress up at some places; they’re looking at the cost of your accessories and shoes, things people have to show status. Think of somebody like Steve Jobs – most thieves wouldn’t look twice at him if they didn’t recognize him, when in fact he was enormously wealthy. He just didn’t flaunt it in public places. If you have expensive electronics, a fancy phone, watch, shoes or jewelry, keep them in your ordinary bag until you’re safely at work among your peers.

    The people who value expensive accessories, clothing and phones/laptops already have them so they’re not impressed. The people impressed by expensive items on the street are the ones who know how much to the penny they can get for them at the pawn shop.

    1. Mme. Homebody, Gosh that is wild you overheard conversations like that, discussions on targeting victims. It’s a shame we have to live this way, but that is life in the big city. Even suburb dwellers should be careful too. Thanks for sharing these tips! I appreciate the comment.

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