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
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.