Published: February 01, 2014

The Style Guy: of brown brogues and tweeds and flashing white sergeants

It’s a New Year, and The Style Guy emerges from his hibernation hut on the beaches of Borneo to consider a few messages that washed up in bottles from the sartorially befuddled, bemused and bemoaning hundred-billion casatways looking for a home for their very own special look.

Let’s see if the always impeccable TSG can help these poor huddled messes …

Dear Style Guy,

I am 15 years old and have been competing now for four years and compete in Grade 3 amateur solo piping. Knowing that appearance is part of the package, before I’m able to play like a pro I figure I can at least look like a pro.

Any tips?

Signed,

A Mature Piper

This is an excellent question, AMP. While you’re hoping for great musical skills, anyone can raise their game at any time when it comes to Highland dress. After all, look at most professional rank solo pipers, and they have that certain carriage that communicates to the world that, yes, they know what they’re doing. You want that.

First, if you’re going to be a serious solo piper, do not wear the ill-fitting band kilt. Nothing says half-arsed un-serious amateur than not bothering to purchase your own kilt, made especially for you.

Second, and this might sound odd, make sure your drones are spaced properly. Frequently you can tell poor pipers from a mile away by their splaid-out drones. Mind you, drone-spacing styles change. The current trend if about seven or eight inches between drone. In the 1970s and ’80s many pipers went with a tighter package, with as little as five inches drone-to-drone for a compact, upright look. Old-time pipers, such as the guy pictured, would often have the drones as wide as 15 inches apart. But take a look at your drones, and go for the current trend, and make sure they’re equally spaced.

Lastly, stand upright and determine the correct blowpipe length. Few things say “crap piper” than someone who’s craning their neck or having to look off to the side with a too short or too long blowstick.

These three steps will help you to at least look the part while you’re tuning for the judge. But when it comes to actual playing, you’re on your own, AMP.

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