Style Guy
June 30, 2008

All Knotted Up at One

After a few months’ hiatus, The Style Guy returns to tackle your sartorial uncertainties, including the ongoing question of what to do with long hair, civilians wearing military attire and, of course, waistcoats. Let’s see what’s in the post-box this time!

Dear Style Guy:

Long hair in a pipe band is not only the province of women. I wear my hair quite long, as do two other current male members of the Lyon College Pipe Band. When wearing a Glengarry, it is definitely more fashionable, and tidier, to tie the hair back in some way. My two band-mates both choose to wear long pony-tails, and my personal preference is braids, although I often wear the braids even when not piping. My braids have on occasion been mistaken for part of the bonnet, and they have also become somewhat of a trademark of mine.

With regard to belts and waistcoats, I have always worn a belt, vest or no. I have also noted Bob Worrall wearing a belt with a vest, and he’s always a fashionable enough guy in my book. I will continue.


Okay, okay, K.:

Ach, aye, Jummy!I agree with you and the male-hair issue. As with long-locked women, men sporting flowing tresses should go with the tied-back look. Don’t try to hide it up under your hat as in that Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show lyric. What you must avoid is the “Jimmy-Hat” appearance: you know, those tartan bunnets with the fake tufty ginger hair sewn in, popular with Scottish footba’ fans when travelling to foreign countries. Keep it neat.

Braids? Unless you’re that strangely attractive Prime Minister of Ukraine, I don’t like that idea at all. And unless your braids are dyed to match, they will completely clash with your drone-cords. Ick!

Now, then, I will wrestle once more with the waistcoat-waistbelt constant conundrum. I have not seen Mr. Worrall recently, but I gather he’s a natty dresser. Perhaps he is a Highland fashion trend-setter, and I’m all for that. Scottish dress, like all other fashion, changes, and it takes mavericks to prompt those changes.

But some things are just static. One does not wear shoes on the hands or a hat on a foot or a belt with a vest. It is a no-no. Designers of men’s clothing will occasionally make a statement by doing things like putting a brown belt with black shoes or one pant-leg shorter than the other or a neck-tie cut off at the knot. But these things never catch on and just look plain dorky.

So it goes with belts and waistcoats. The kilt should fit, and should not need a belt to keep it up. If it doesn’t stay up, then a set of braces / suspenders under the vest / waistcoat will do the job. I don’t know what more I can say on this topic. You can take my advice or continue to be a braided-belt-wearing-waistcoater. I really don’t care. I am simply trying to save you and the rest of the piping and drumming world from the ridicule that is most certainly occurring behind you back.

So, with that, I shall divest myself from the topic of belts and vests. It’s up to you if you want to be laughed at.

Hey Style Guy:

Instant cheap face-lift in a hair-doI’d like to start off by saying that there has been many a time I have gone to your section on pipes|drums to see what fashion faux pas I can avoid, and I will say it helps very much. I and many others I’m sure appreciate the output from your fashion wherewithal.

With that, not to say that I disliked your response to Hairy In Glengarry’s query about girls with glengarries, but I remember talking to some kids I know in the Robert-Malcolm Memorial band when they came to a Pomona games in southern California, and I noticed all the girls’ hair were done up in French braids. they said that the SFU higher-ups enforced this as part of the uniform (likewise guys could never perform with hair lower than their ears, among other things) to keep all the girls looking the same: sharp, in a girl way.

I guess I was expecting that kind of answer on your behalf because it made the most sense to me. I don’t know what other top bands do to their girls’ hair, but do you know anything to this regard? Just thought I’d get some fashion closure from you first.


Seamus MacKool

Thank you, Mr. MacKool, for you platitudes. I shall now treat you nicely.

Unlike Mr. Straggly-Braids above, I absolutely love this idea of French braids, and leave it to the sartorially-perceptive folks of SFU / RMM / Triumph Street to do the right thing. (Take note of how each of those bands wear well-cut waistcoats/vests only with long-sleeved shirts for a strictly elegant non-taxi-driver look.)

Not only are French braids tidy and feminine, they help the band to have a more uniform look. A band should be judged on how they sound, but we all know that a well turned-out outfit makes a strong statement of togetherness, integration and, yes, uniformity.

Besides, as the Highland dancing community can attest, really tight French braids pull the skin around the eyes back for an excellent temporary and cheap face-lift.

Dear Style Guy:

I was at a Highland games recently in the southern United States and I noticed one piper, who was clearly not Scottish or even from a Commonwealth country, wearing a complete Scots Guards uniform or trews, kaki-coloured shirt, tartan ribbons on the drones and maroon and blue striped waistbelt.

My question to you: is it acceptable for a non-Guardsman to wear the regimental uniform? Isn’t it a little like a non-Marine going around Scotland dressed in West Point attire?


Guarded in Gatorville

Dear Guarded:

This is a tough one. In a sense, we’re all wearing a version of the attire created by the Scottish regiments. It was derived from a Walter Scott Victorian notion of what Scots should wear, and then further corrupted by the English. There’s not much “Highland” about it, really, so there’s no such thing as “authentic” any more; just tasteful

I say old chap, but playing Scotty is splendid fun, wot?Unfortunately, for the ersatz Guardsman in question, he is in bad taste. There are some things that just should not be done, and this is one of them. Sure, it might be snappy, but it’s a bit insulting to actual soldiers who did a lot more than wear their regiment’s uniform. In all cases, they were willing to put their life on the line so that we all could continue to prance around freely at Highland games.

It’s worth noting that most ex-soldiers don’t wear their regiment’s uniform again. The most they will do is sport maybe a belt-buckle or kilt-pin, and many will limit themselves to just the regimental tie, if anything.


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Remember playing well is good. But looking good is marvelous!










  1. I think I met the Scots Guard Guy this year. FYI he told me that he had been a student of PM Dixie Ingram, former of Scots Guards, 2nd Battalion. Can you imagine how it feels to be beaten in a piping competition by a guy wearing trews?



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