Style Guy
December 12, 2020

The Style Guy: Commando kilting, advice for online competitions and more

The Style Guy has been on an extended sabbatical. He’s had to lock down his buttons and bells, sew his darn socks, and learn to do up new knots for his ties, waiting out this crazy time. The Style Guy’s mailbag has filled up, so let’s see what the postie dragged in for a satirical look at what’s worn or in perfect working order . . .


Dear Style Guy,

Most of the world hasn’t been able to compete in-person for eight months. What are your thoughts on what we should wear for “virtual” solo competitions?


Online Olga

Why not just wear what you’d wear in a normal competition?

Dear Online Olga,

Very good question. We’ve seen all manner of outfits on these online competitions, ranging from fully decked-out Highland gear to shorts and raggedy t-shirts.

Most competitions have been pretty relaxed about making contestants wear “Highland dress,” or even pants. They seem to cut everyone some slack and just worry about, well, nothing much, since life is way too much about too much worry these days.

My advice to online competitors, though, is this: follow the golden rule of presenting, interviews or performing: try to dress a little better than the audience. The audience, in this case, is the same audience as ever – the judge and your fellow pipers and drummers.

While wearing shorts and a t-shirt is more conducive to good playing than, say, a wool barathea kilt jacket, you are definitely dressing down to your audience. This does not communicate respect. It’s actually a bit disrespectful.

So, put on that kilt, sporran, and so forth, but wear a comfortable shirt and ditch the tie, unless you really want to err on the side of strangulation. Communicate to your audience that you are taking this thing seriously, you’re about to play seriously and, most of all, you respect your audience.


Hey Style Guy,

What should judges wear when they judge online competitions? Does it matter?


Not Wearing Pants

Show some dignity, man!

Thanks for the excellent question, NWP. Given my answer to the previous question, judges should definitely show some respect and at least wear trousers . . . pants, too. Since most online competitions now are of uploaded videos, adjudicators assessing them at their leisure over several days and we don’t really see them, expecting them to strap on a kilt and all that each time is fanciful thinking. But I guess they could do that. But if judges think it’s okay to go through the videos in their jammies or birthday suit, well, in the words of John Lennon, instant karma’s gonna getcha. That sort of disrespect of competitors will come back to haunt. So, at least wear pants.

If it’s a live-streamed performance, judges should wear the judging gear. You know, ill-fitting jacket, sporran from the last band they played with in 1972, and a massive vinyl briefcase to hold their . . . pen. Seriously, judges need to respect the players, contestants should dress a little bit better than the judge, which usually isn’t too difficult at the best of times.


Dear The Style Guy,

Did you catch that bit about the Red Hot Chilli Pipers expressing concern about having their under-kilt privates grabbed by curious red hot fans? The band is all male, as far as I know, so they seemed to be wanting the same harassment and inappropriate touching rules and laws applied to them.

What do you think?


Commando Curt

Flea the scene.

Yes, I did see that, CC. My immediate thought was: Marketing Stunt. I mean, it’s not lost on me that they took your name from a rock band that pretty much wrote the book on crowd surfing in only their underpants, wearing only a sock (not on a foot appendage), and singing about lots of suggestive stuff. Don’t forget you have “hot” in your name, too.

If you’re going to pretend you’re Anthony Keidis or Flea or Adam Levine or Drake or whoever in an all-guys collective wearing all red and black and kilts, well, I guess one or two wandering hands from curious fans comes with the territory.

To be sure, no one, male or female, should ever be inappropriately touched ever. If it’s a serious problem, how about instead wearing some skin-tight red hot trews.


Dear Style Guy:

When pipe bands around the world finally get back to competing, do you think they’ll look better or worse than when they stopped?


Threadbare in Toledo

Hello Toledo,

Interesting. I had not thought of that. Uniforms might have gone missing. Some players might have gained the “COVID 15.” Bits and pieces could be amiss.

I believe that bands will need some time to polish up their appearance. There’s not a lot of money to go around, since band coffers will be thin due to the lack of gigs and prize money.

However, there are some great deals out there. Highland dress makers and retailers are offering sales to entice bands like yours to smarten up while they’re locked down. Maybe right now is the time to consider a uniform revamp.

When the Northern Hemisphere does come back to allow a safe return to in-the-flesh competitions, come out strong with a new look or a few tweaks to the old one. It will be a new era, so mark it with some refreshed attire.


Got a question about the kilt? The jaykit? That foo-foo sporran strap? Cufflinks vs. buttons? Velcro ghillie brogues? Just contact The Style Guy, and he’ll be happy to set you straight down a path of sartorial splendor. And he promises to wear pants.



The Style Guy – romper-stompers, defining ‘Highland,’ and are sgian dubhs done?




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