Published: July 31, 2008

Glad he aters

Here’s the mail it never fails, it makes me want to wag my tail. Mail! Let’s open the letter sack and see what the sartorially challenged desperadoes of piping and drumming query of me . . .

Dear Style Guy,

The first question I have is regarding glengarry hats during competition. Plain black, or is patterned okay? I understand the red/white checks are traditionally for military personnel.

Second, how about a great big horse hair sporran without number-one dress? I am tall enough that it will not trip me up.

Signed,
Tall enough

Big questions, Tall. First, the hat-trick. I actually like either glengarry style. Dicing makes a bold statement. Plain black is a safe but elegant option. I noticed a police band or two that use black-and-white diced glengarries, which subtly ties in with the tradition of the Edinburgh City Police, which trademarked the check pattern. Because the Scots more or less founded the police force in Chicago, that city uses the black-white dicing.

To answer you next question on sporrans, unless you have the élan, the Highland fashion budget and the tailor of the late, great John Davey Burgess, it’s neigh impossible for a civilian to incorporate a horsehair sporran without number-one dress. In fact, it usually looks incredibly dorky and positively shrieks, “I am a bad piper/drummer.”

 Dear Style Guy,

I asked you a wee while ago about wearing the glengarry straight or sideways, citing such greats as Messrs MacLeod, Nicol and Brown. I recall your answer was very amusing. I still think the glengarry looks good a wee bit to the side.
 
I have another question for you now. Is it acceptable to compete in a solo piping competition wearing trews? I must tell you that John MacDonald of Inverness used to compete in trousers (not even trews, as they were not tartan from the picture I saw, just brown trousers) and of course he was a rather well known competitor with a few Clasps and the Bobs of Balmoral as his pupils.

You may well tell me I am citing things from the distant past again. If so, please forgive me. I am a fan of the bygone, gentler times.
 
I do look forward to your expert view, and would like to say I really enjoy your column. Can you play the bagpipes, just out of interest?
 
Regards,
Nicholas Taitz
 
Can I play the bagpipe?! My dear Nicky Taitz, did Peter MacLeod have a dicky leg? Did Archibald Campbell have an active imagination? Could Seumas MacNeill be, in his own words, a proper bastard?

Now then, the topic of trews. Until I see one of the world’s premier pipers take the stage at Eden Court Theatre wearing trousers, I will have to say no. Well, yes, you could wear tartan pants, but you’ll look a right prat. I have seen one or two civilian adjudicators wearing trews, but they’re different and can pretty much wear whatever they want. Just look at the asinine-looking fishing hats and baseball caps that some of them sport. Just like the music we play, when Willie McCallum hits the boards wearing trousers the lambs are sure to follow. When Field Marshal dons plaid pants, we can think about it. When SFU decides . . . hey, wait a second. I think there’s some money to be made with this idea . . .

 Hello Mr. Style Guy,

You see so many different ways of tying the laces of our brogues! I have often been at weddings where the groom has no idea and the laces go all the way up the leg and then tucked under the flasher, or the knot is tied around the back of the shin. You can see them all looking at your shoes and comparing his laces to yours.
 
Is there a standard way of tying the laces?
 
GR

Thank you for affording me the designation of “Mr.” I am glad that I command such respect, GR.

I have written on this in an erstwhile response, but I’ll reiterate my thoughts. First, there are few worse things when it comes to the garb of auld Gaul than ghillie brogue laces going up the calf like a Roman gladiator’s sandals. The horror!

The knobbish gladiator look.

The refined look that communicates, 'I am a good player,' or, at least, 'I am not a knob.'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 I advise keeping things simple and low: Two twists of the laces at the front, one wrap around the back of the leg just above the ankle bone, and a simply tie at 10 and 2 o’clock on the left and right legs, respectively. The laces should be together and simple. I also like to double-knot my bow, to safeguard things coming undone. Very embarrassing having your shoe come untied and two-feet of laces chasing behind you.

And what of you, poor soul? How can I help you from being a Highland misfit? Send your questions of Highland dress and style to me, The Style Guy, by clicking here. Until next time . . .

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