Style Guy
November 12, 2016

The Style Guy: for better or for worsted

Dear Mr. Guy:

What about pipe bands wearing vests, or waistcoats as they call them in the UK? Has this look run its course? What alternatives might there be for a band on a budget?


Invested for the Future

Could be World Champions, but looks like every other band on earth.

Thanks for the question, IftF. The pipe band waistcoat started to emerge in the mid-1980s, when the Polkemmet Pipe Band’s leaders, Pipe-Major Robert Mathieson and Lead-Drummer Jim Kilpatrick, set themselves apart by donning a waistcoat along with their jackets. The rest of the band wore just jackets. Other bands followed (three-piece) suit, and some top bands even had all members wearing waistcoats and jackets. Then, one warm day, they dispensed with the jackets and wore only vests/waistcoats, providing a dressy look but without the cumbrance of a wooly jaekit. Today pretty much every pipe band on earth wears waistcoats and many don’t even have jackets. It’s a good solution, since it cuts down on band uniform costs and allows for more freedom of movement. (And thank G.S. that bands have abandoned the horrific short-sleeved-shirts-and-waistcoats look.) With a waistcoat and a proper-fitting kilt, bands can further cut costs by skipping the waist-belt, since the buckle peeking out below the waistcoat is a fashion faux-pas. But the reality is, the look is ubiquitous. It’s passe. It’s a cliché. I recommend that bands can go a step further: skip the vest and completely cazsh it up with just nice, long-sleeved white cotton shirts. And go with just jackets if you want to dress it up, and why not try a bit of tweed? With all the suppliers, the price of good quality Highland wear has come down, and bands can more afford tweed jackets than any time I can remember.





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