Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What should our uniform look like?

As some of you may know, a small group of our members is working up a proposal for how the band's uniform should evolve. They are planning to develop a proposal to put to the band in the new year, but I think this is far too important to be left to a few people.

Given this I’ve decided to let everyone know that the future uniform is being considered, and to open up the Blog as a forum to gather opinions.

In order to get the discussions started I thought it would be good to remind everyone of how our uniform has altered over the years, and to give some thoughts as to the future. However this is mainly a call for input from everyone --- so please let us know what you think.


History of our uniform

I don’t intend to go through every variation we have used, but will use our band's archive pages as a quick way to show that we do keep changing things -- and that there is nothing ‘special’ about what we have right now.

Lets start off with the band in 1973. This pictures shows the pipers have dark diced sock with barrel flashes, buckles on the shoes, Balmoral Hats with hackles, and that we have dress jackets, tartan pipe bags, dark ties and the Royal Stewart kilts. The drummers wore Glengarry hats, pink half hose and gaiters … and the Bass Drummer had a ‘leopard skin’ rather than a jacket since the drum was slung high in those days and you couldn’t swing the sticks high enough with those jackets

Then in 1975 we moved over to a full dress
. Here we have all the band in plaids, cross belts, full jacket and Glengarrys. The pipers wear cock-feathers and black Glengarrys whilst the drummers wear red hackles in diced Glengarry.

However the full uniform was usually too much too wear and usually dropped the plaids giving us a look closer to what we had in 1973 …

And even that was quite hot, so we introduced the shirts ---pipers did retain the cock feathers and cross belts, but we didn't wear ties, and the shirts sleeves were often folded up

In 1977 we had a very relaxed uniform for a while … but somehow don't think we really should go back to it. Or there again, I can think of a couple of pipers in the band who might favour this look ;-)

Then for the 1981 Adelaide Highland Games we added the Stewart ties and the epaulettes, dropped the cross belts and you have something very close to the current street march look.

Then the band went to sleep for a while …. And nothing really changed until 2005 when we introduced the blue pipe bags, leather sporrans, white socks and red flashes

In 2006 we updated the shirts (keeping the same look --- really the old shirts were just worn out -- though we did have strong lobby to move over to blue shirts), and since then we did change the socks.

The final minor change is that a few months back we added the water bottle and that brings us up to date


As for the future direction -- well that’s a question that needs to be discussed.

Think that the starting point would be should we keep the pipe and drum corps dressed differently (ie hats etc) … and must admit that I lean towards having everyone dressed the same.

However the most expensive question is likely to be a jacket. Truth is that we don’t play outside in the cold that much , and as such we have been getting away without one … but I do remember that freezing Anzac Day in Kapunda and that makes me lean towards having something warmer to wear. The current international trend is towards a waistcoat To me this looks very neat from the front and it is very comfortable to play in … but must admit that from the back it looks a bit half dressed. A simple jumper could be OK, or could return to the full heavy jackets, something along the lines of a dinner jacket, or perhaps could simply go for Inverness Capes (ie loosely the pipe band raincoat). They do keep out the wind and cold well enough for Australian conditions and are more traditional.

Hats are another interesting issue … I find that the Glengarry is too thin on top meaning I keep getting a sun burnt head. Ideally would like to argue for a broad brimmed hat (ie Akubra or even a slouch hat so doesn’t hit the drones) but they don’t really look right on a pipe band (ie not traditional Scottish) . Given this I lean towards the Balmoral (ie the flat bonnet we wore in the early 70s) as perhaps the better compromise, even though I know that they are very inclined to look a bit scruffy in a band.

Ties -- well the real question is whether we need them at all. I know that keeping the top button done up on a shirt can be a hassle for pipers, and the size variety within our band means that they can't all look the same. As such I could easily be convinced to dumping the ties, but don’t really have any strong feelings.

After that come the ‘jewellery’ such as cap badges, lanyards, kilt pins, tie pins, skean dhus, flashes etc and though I know most of the band like these things (ie many add bits and pieces to the uniform) I must admit to being a minimalist and as such would prefer not to have any of them. However getting back to reality, we currently have at least 4 different cap badges in use and think it would be a good idea to standardise on one type.


But think that’s enough said for the moment. Could go on about other items, but think you have enough to get an idea of the type of input that's needed.

The real question is what type of look does the band favour, and as such would appreciate comments. Can be verbal or via the Blog, named or anonymous.

Lets hear from you all -- after all its got to be the decision of all the playing members of the band.



Anonymous said...

hows about jackets like the City of Adelaide wear.


Anonymous said...

Exactly. Dark hose, dark jacket.
A waistcoat looks like you're partly dressed ... lost your jacket?

Anonymous said...

Could we have an idea of what would be a reasonable "per head" budget for any new uniform ?

angus said...

Cost is an interesting question.

I don't have current data on our finances (need to ask Dave to provide that) but think that we get about $5k per year in engagements and I regard that money as being for uniforms and instruments.

Current band size means that would need to buy at least 30 of each item so I would suggest $150/year/person is a good rule of thumb for the uniform renewal.

Would also mention that band does have a reasonable sum in the bank (think its about $25k) and as such we can spend a bit more than the above in the short term ... but would like to think we could restore the bank balance within a reasonable time.


CEPB member said...

I think the band should go with a Uniform similar to City of Adelaide. It looks very smart and still formal. As far as funds go, I think the band has more than enough money to get buy and there is no reason to raise the membership fee to $150. The band hasn't spent any money for quite sometime on uniforms!

Angus said...

think there is a minor misunderstanding from the above comment since I did not suggest raising the band fees. What I said was that we can sustain the $150/year/person as an average rate from the engagements that we do.

In my mind the band fees pay for the hall hire, reeds, drum skins and other standing costs (and the current fees are fine for that) and the engagements are for uniforms and instruments. So the $150 was saying put most of the current engagements money in towards updating 30 uniforms. Thats roughly the sustainable rate WITHOUT RAISING FEES OR TAKING ON FUND RAISING EXERCISE.

Raising fees is not needed, and taking on fund raising gets in the way of making music which is what we are really about.

Also I do agree that we can easily dip into our bank accounts at the moment, but would like to think we would be able to restore the current balance within a reasonable time.


Anonymous said...

If we do opt for the dark jacket, then I feel that the Glengarry is the way to go for headgear.

Anonymous said...

Look at the price of jackets. Celtic Affairs have proper ones made in Scotland at $410 each. Over the complete band this comes to a lot of money. Is this a good way to spend the bands money?

Look at this link http://www.celticaffairs.com/Highland%20Dress.htm

Anonymous said...

What about a smart dark woollen jersey rather than an expensive jacket ?

Anonymous said...

Why not change the name of the band at the same time? There has been no City of Elizabeth for years. Look to the future. Something to think about in regard to cap badges.

Anonymous said...

City of Adelaide this, City of Adelaide that. A sense of identity and a unique image does not come from playing follow the leader - there are numerous "smart" looking options. Spread the net wider and look at many of Australia's bands. Better still, have a look at the Worlds DVDs. If only money was no option...

Anonymous said...

Look wider -- that makes good sense to me. Here is a link with photos of the top 14 bands from last years Worlds


There is one Australian band present (The band club).

The main feature is that in essence all are waistcoat or the type of jacket Adelaide wears, the only hats you see are Glengarrys, all wear ties, leather sporrans and long socks.

Not sure if this helps much, but think its worth looking at

Anonymous said...

It would seem that hair sporrans and spats are now ancient history. Thank goodness !!!!

Anonymous said...

Hair sporrans and spats are ancient history for competition - yes.
You'll find that many of those top bands have a full number one dress also for appropriate occasions. Sometime you have to give the public and the sponsors what they want!

Anonymous said...

Who has ever heard of a sponsor expressing a preference for a particular dress code prior to an engagement?

The kilt and the music are the drawcards ....

Army bands will soon be the last bastion of the spats and hair sporrans.

Anonymous said...

Hair sporrans were before car keys !!!!

Anonymous said...

The kilt and the music are the drawcards ....

Really? I think that this is were pipe bands are loosing touch with the real world. At large public moneymaking events (not piping events) the full uniform is over-represented. Why? Because the spectacle is obvious to the public and the public are willing to pay for it.
I've never seen a civilian pipe band at the Edinburgh tattoo in anything less than full uniform. There is a reason.

Anonymous said...

Do you mean the Edinburgh MILITARY Tattoo ?

I rest my case

Anonymous said...

regarding not seeing a band at the Edinburgh tattoo in anything less than full uniform ... have a look at the following photos from the tattoo web site. Two of the four years they show in their gallery have clear examples



also the lone piper has been seen without full uniform


But whats this to do with what our band should wear anyway?

Anonymous said...

It maybe Edinburgh Military Tattoo......But if you take NOTICE of what bands are there you'll they are NOT all military, QLD Police Pipes and Drums and oh lets not forget SA's own Royal Caledonian Society Pipes and Drums who just there last year (I don't believe they are Military.....do you???)

Anonymous said...

Thinking about the socks we wear. White seems to get dirty so quickly and already seeing color variation. Guess thats caused by how often they are washed.

Does anyone know if darker colors would be better for this? Or maybe even the diced socks like the band used to have might be better -- after all the half socks we wear with the spats seem to have all kept their color quiten well.

Also why do most bands have pipers with black hats and drummers with diced? Would be interested to hear the reason for this.

Anonymous said...

Strathclyde Police wear dark hose with the red kilt, but I never feel it is a good match somehow.

Sue said...

I like the idea of having a city of adeladie style uniform. Much more relaxed. BUT I agree that some times it is appropriate to wear a full dress uniform. Having done the Edinburgh Military Tattoo last year in full uniform I would have to say that our band doesn't have occassion to use this dress very often but if we want to be considered in the future for events like the tattoo then we need to consider full dress. I prefer to play dressed comfortably and full dress is never comforable.

I believe that what ever we do we need to keep some identity. Don't change the kilt and the shirt colour is easily recognised as ours.

We don't live in Scotland and we should dress more appropriately for our climate.

Anonymous said...

The comment that the shirt colour is reasily recongised makes sense to me.

Perhaps look for a jacket along the same colour -- and have found pocture of a Lovat Green jacket on the bottom of


Is shown over the top of a similar shirt to our and with a red kilt. Perhaps could even go to socks with a similar colour -- and in the longer run move the pipers covers, and even the drum shell colours over a similar green.

I think this keeps the Elizabeth look, would be neater than shirts and still comfortable.

Anonymous said...

The Lovat Green jacket goes extremely well with the same colour balmoral ...... and our red kilt would fit in beautifully.

Anonymous said...

The Uniform.

There has been a lot of debate about the uniform and know even someone has been discussing a name change well shock horror there are many associations that have Elizabeth in it for example Elizabeth rugby club and Elizabeth and districts soccer association and I have been involved in all of these and in the City of Elizabeth Pipe Band. I grew up in Elizabeth and I am a proud Elizabethan and cannot see any reason for a name change and would have to stay with tradition.

When it comes to the uniform it is important to understand the band has different components and personalities which is highlighted in many associations and this will give the direction of selection of the uniform. So if the band is staying with its current commitments this really makes it simple for me the selection of its uniform for me.

This is to keep it simple so players of the band at any age, size or level of playing can enjoy being involved in street marches. The band mostly plays street marches in the mornings in temperatures 23 degrees to 35 degrees with the introduction of a few evening events it has it still has been a comfortable temp to play in other than rain. The most confusing and unprofessional look of the band is to arrive at an engagement in different apparel to everybody else so lets take out any doubt. And at the end of the day I am at the band for the enjoyment of the music and the uniform second but so shorts thongs and a tee shirt would be ok too.

I will give you an idea of my suggestions.

Street marches and non competitive engagements

1. hat- Balmoral if it gives more head coverage lets go with this if we stay with glengarries a band badge that would stay with band emblem would need to be developed I think.

2. Shirts- stay with what we have but due to different shading (looks silly) a new shirt every season might be the answer and not old and new. The epaulets do look more dressy just the colour might be worth looking at.

3. Tie – Stay the same maybe an idea to have elastic ties so it is easy for younger players and keep them all the same (maybe a tie pin)

4. kilt- Stay the same

5. Sporrans- loose the hair one and the leather one and have one there are lots on the market that would be good could be leather and fancy with pocket.

6. Belt buckles. New with band emblem on them if we can.

7. Socks- stay with what we have and flashes, loose the spats for ever.

8. Shoes-plain and black will do

9. Sunglasses- this should really be looked at as a band. Cannot understand why not allowed to wear I struggle in direct sun light. I am told prescription glasses only.

10. Jacket- if it is really necessary I looked on the Celtic affairs website that like a spray jacket that was $120 maybe worth a try for wet and cold days. If they are purchased my suggestion is that the are sized and bagged and brought to possibly needed engagements together so that if they are worn, we all wear.

The other item that needs considering witch I will be doing soon will be to dry clean the uniforms and this could be encouraged in the band.

Competition Uniform

This is where in my opinion that the band should look at change, it seems that the band is heading more to this direction in the future. The band is graded and represented at this level at has the piping community gauging the band and should be in my opinion the focus of the band to have the best opportunity and pride in this area. A look that would represent the band and area and maximise the best points and comfort of the band performing. And should be completely different in colour and look to non competitive uniform that could be made locally for future purchases.

These are a few ideas that might help with the consultation of the uniform. There are other things that I would like the band to look (a new base drum with a new band logo) at in the future and will be willing to help with as my other commitments reduce. More Cabarets, the making of a band cd and taking the band on tour for competitions could be great fun.

What ever the band decides as long as it stays fun and not complicated and stressful

And the enjoyment of music should be paramount of the bands direction.

Dean Worsley said...

Hey this has raised some interesting and at time emotional discussion hasn't it!
As a former (and potentially returning before expectation) band member, I feel that a move away from the current name is a bad one. This band draws a good deal of interest from the community in high profile events such as the ANZAC parade and the Xmas Pageant in the form of questions from "Joe Public" of "hey, ol'(insert any old player's name here) used to play out at Elizabeth, is he still there?" or similar - raises the profile of the band and engages the public to become involved at times. Aside from that, there hostory is a major part of this particular hobby we induldge in, change for what appears to be changes' sake, because so-and-so else seems to be doing it, to the average (Elizabeth) community member may appear to be an attempt at distancing yourselves from that particular community and will be assumed as being done for whatever reasons a particular Elizabethan feels people find as undesireable in this region - not good public image and negative motivation. Believe it or not, the very existance of this band does raise the profile and image of that area, I know this as I have seen the surprise on peoples' faces when I mention the band, "really?, you guys have a pipe band out there?" It does make people think that the place isn't all flanelette, beanies and blue singlets!
Certainly see the benefits of a new uniform however I don't necessarily feel the current military style necessarily has to be discarded totally. This is a very appropriate look for the ANZAC parade/s or other similar memorial type engagements. There should be a more formal 'civvy' style version avaiable by using perhaps a plain shirt/tie/jacket/leather sporran combination with existing kilt and socks/hose. Personally I think the formal kit should be worn sans head wear at all for the indoor events and Glengarry/Balmoral (whichever the band decides on), being reserved for the street marches and 'military' uniform. The existance of, for arguments' sake, a No.1 and No.2 dress don;t forget, reduces wear and tear on both by the reduced amount of wear resulting from two versions and replacement costs would be reduced as a result.
This is a wee trend I have noticed in my travels anyway and of course is only my non-voting-former-member opinion. I would be happy to wear whatever is decided on by the majority when I end up back down south!
Just my two cents worth, loving the way this is all growing though, miss y'all.