Jan 23 2010
For many years, body armor that was fashionable as well as protective was a trope of cyberpunk sci-fi. The ever-present black leather jacket lined with kevlar, dusters and drovers coats with trauma plates stitched into them, and even capes and cloaks which could turn bullets or the blade of a knife graced the pages of many a well-thumbed paperback book. Now it would seem that fashion designers have taken inspiration from these stories and helped make body armor, or at least the appearance thereof fashionable. It would seem that some subcultures have taken body armor as a fashion statement of sorts - after all, if you have to wear armor when you're out, you're obviously important enough to have people want to kill you, right? - and the cool hunters have picked up this blip on the radar and run with it. Semi- and non-formal outerwear that can stop rounds from low-calibre handguns are selling pretty well right now, and for people who can't afford them there are variants which protect you from nothing but the cold. This trend might have grown out of some people purchasing body armor for personal use (which is legal in some locations, illegal in others, and legal with certain caveats in still others - check your local ordinances before hitting eBay), namely, the glitterati and heads of corporations who just may have angered their markets with their antics. Plus, you can get this stuff with nifty patterns silkscreened on it without having to do it yourself if basic body armor isn't your thing.
If you've a mind (and money) to, there are even companies that will tailor concealed body armor for whomever can pay for it. Miguel Caballero has been doing just this for almost twenty years now; a polo shirt that can taken a 9mm round and let you (painfully) walk away will run you about $4kus. Good bulletproof vests with trauma plates aren't cheap; you can expect to pay well upwards of $1kus for military grade armor, less for civilian grade armor and other protective measures.. of course, you really have to know what you're buying and what it's rated for. There are multiple grades of body armor which stop different kinds of rounds so planning ahead for threats becomes necessary. Also, not all sorts of body armor are proof against edged weapons due to how kevlar is used in the construction of ballistic armor; for that you need to look elsewhere. Something else that isn't mentioned is that body armor is less comfortable the more it protects you. It's heavy. It's hot. It tires you out. It can slow you down. It doesn't cover everything. If you get shot it still hurts because not all of the force is absorbed by the armor. At best you'll have a nasty bruise or three. At worst you could break a rib, collarbone, or possibly your sternum.
Oh, and there's just one more thing... the best body armor in the world won't protect you from a headshot.