What are the Different Types of Prison Uniform?

Laura M. Sands

A prison uniform may come in a variety of different sizes and types including jumpsuits, scrubs, shorts and jeans. Some uniforms are to be worn with a hat, while others are not. Also known as a jail uniform, it may be designed for a man or a woman, and may come in solid colors or include stripes.

Single-color one-piece jumpsuits are common prison apparel.
Single-color one-piece jumpsuits are common prison apparel.

During penal imprisonment, inmates are required to wear uniforms that identify them as prisoners. Some prisons issue jail uniforms that consist of denim jeans and a solid colored shirt, while others opt for a more institutional design. Different jails and prisons utilize different uniform styles, but all inmates are required by law to wear them.

Prison uniforms can deter escape attempts.
Prison uniforms can deter escape attempts.

One style of prison uniform is a one-piece jumpsuit. Usually, these are short-sleeved jumpsuits that come in a single color. As is common with other uniforms, a one-piece jail uniform may be made for male or female inmates.

A two-piece prison uniform consists of a short-sleeved short and a pant with an elastic waist. This type of uniform is similar in style to hospital scrubs. These often come in muted colors, such as olive or khaki, but may also come in bright orange, yellow, blue, red or white.

Sometimes a two-piece jail uniform will be featured in two colors. Such is the case in black and white striped uniforms, as well as in two-piece uniforms that feature a solid color shirt and pant trimmed with another color at the collar. When a prison uniform features a colored trim, the second color may also appear as a stripe on the side of each pant leg, as well as around a single row of buttons on the front of the shirt. If the uniform is to be accompanied by a hat, it may also be found to display two colors with the brim decorated in the same color as the trim on the shirt and pant leg.

When inmates are allowed to wear shorts, a prison uniform may issue knee-length shorts with a matching shirt. As is the case with other inmate uniforms, shorts do not have pockets and are often featured with elastic waistbands. Shorts are frequently featured in basic solid colors and are not an exact size, but are designed to fit inmates in the small, medium, large or extra large sizing categories.

Besides different colors and styles, a prison uniform may also include stenciling used in identifying a prisoner. Such stenciling may include the prison’s name and the state where the prison is located. The uniform may also include prison-issued shoes, which are usually a work boot or a slip-on canvas shoe with a rubber sole.

Inmates are required to wear uniforms that identify them as prisoners.
Inmates are required to wear uniforms that identify them as prisoners.

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Discussion Comments


A question about the prison clothes and the orange pants and grey sweater. Is that included? If and when the inmate is former military, is it the same clothing then?

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