Tongue twisters

Published: March 31, 2009
(Page 1 of 1)
Tis always the season to be stylish, so let’s open the mailbag to see what quandaries await The Style Guy this time . . .
Dear Style Guy,
When simple things like a belt with a waistcoat can get you down, what do you do when 20 miles in each direction from you there are eight guys masquerading as a pipe band wearing the most ridiculous Highland “fashions” possible? That’s what it seems like we are faced with here in New Jersey. Take a look at these photos.
When confronted with the irregularities, faux pas, combat-boots, laces that are like a roman warrior, golf-shirts on top, and other blatant mistakes by those of us “in the know” we are told, “We just like to have fun and we don’t take it as seriously as you do.”
Truth be told, they may be right, and not just with the fashion, if you know what I mean. But back to the question: what do the rest of us do when this ridiculous Highland get-up is so commonplace around here that folks start to think it’s normal? Any chance you can start a syndicated column in the Asbury Park Press or Trenton Times to give us followers of yours some relief?
Highland Clown Suit Complainer
Hmmm. These are indeed severe cases of people having too much fun at the expense of us, um, prigs.
HCSC, I hate to say it, but I think you need to relax. There comes a time when it’s just too much to get worked up over. My advice is to let these well-meaning folk do what they will, and then take your own well-kitted-out band on the very same streets and impress the very same people with your sartorial genius. You must lead by example.
While these cross-region rivals might have little to do with your pursuit of playing and style excellence, the worst thing to do is to shun them. The best approach is to befriend them, offer to buy the next pitcher of green beer and find some common ground. Before you know it, they’ll be asking you not only where you got those funny no-tongue lace-up shoes, but also how to play a D-throw.

Mssr. Guy:

As an employee of an ancient and venerable school of business in Boston, I have been involved in just the kind of work one would expect whilst the economy implodes and eyes are cast heavenward (the latter less an act of imploring the divine than a way to avoid plummeting investors); making a rubber-band ball and reading your column. After reading through many excellent questions and answers, I come to you with a query of my own.

Over the course of my piping career, I’ve tried to follow the rule that the only thing garish about a piper’s kit should be the expense. As such, I’ve become a proponent hand-knit kilt hose (in subdued shades, of course), and have a few pairs that are well constructed, subtly patterned, and carry the added benefit of putting a coin in the pocket of a crone. I can hardly think of a reason to pull on a pair of white or bottle green nylon hose unless, of course, they are part some lewd act.

Recently, however, I’ve been considering the adoption of tartan hose, especially at indoor events. I have a pair for more formal performances (in Lindsay, matching my kilt), and even went so far as to wear them to the games along with black jacket/vest, rep striped tie, blue shirt, studded black sporran, and polished black ghillies. Some of my peers derided the choice, suggesting that black or charcoal hose were more appropriate. While I agreed that those options were acceptable (black, in my opinion, a little over-done these days), I didn’t think that eliminated the option of tartan, especially as I feel that my choice was also intended to reflect the formality I attach to competition. I wanted to check in with an authority in order to obtain a more formal pronouncement. Your thoughts would be appreciated.


Beguiled by Argyle

Mssr. BBA – first, I applaud your courage and your sense of Highland style adventure. Second, what on God’s tartan earth are you thinking?! Tartan hose really only suit a formal suit, which means evening dress of Prince Charlie, military doublet or, for the truly foppish, Montrose doublet. Tartan socks also work with a variation of the military “number-one,” but be careful there.

While there are certainly worse Highland crimes of fashion, wearing tartan hose with a daywear ensemble should be avoided. Your friends are right: stick with the solid, simple colour. Round the games, unless you’re in the military, keep the spotlight on the kilt, rather than your calves.

Monsieur Style Guy,

I’ve heard different views on what to do when approaching a judge, specifically there has been some discussion on whether or not you should shake the judge’s hand. Is it presumptuous, or extra credit? 

Any additional comments on the general subject would be appreciated as well.

Thanks a ton,

The Awkward Piper
An excellent question, Awkward Piper. Tell me, though: are you female and, if so, are you hot? If the answer is yes to both, then dispense with the handshake and get straight to a more – how shall I say – intimate approach.
But no tongues.
Jesting aside, the answer is generally no. Do not shake a piping or drumming judge’s hand. It communicates a too-close-for-comfort relationship, and more often than not will make the judge squirm just a little. Simple verbal pleasantries work just fine.
There are a few exceptions, however: if you happen to be good friends with the adjudicator and haven’t seen him/her in a long time, then go ahead and shake hands. It would feel weird not to. The other scenario would be if you are pipe-major and you get to the starting line. It is generally customary for the ensemble judge to extend a handshake of good luck to all bands.
And then offering the judge a pocket-sized bottle of Purell is always appreciated, too . . .

So what are your issues? Wondering how to hand that tie? What about drone cords? Buckle too big? Send your queries and The Style Guy will set you straight.
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If you play in a pipe band, and aren’t the Pipe-Major or Leading-Drummer, follow these four rules (in order): show up, learn the music, shut up, and play.
Colin MacLellan, Edinburgh