|Wearing the Kilt in the Lyon College Pipe Band|
The Dress and Deportment award, when given these days, is viewed by many bands as a bit of joke and one that quite often goes to a band that is more focused on looking good than sounding good. Just the same, a well-outfitted band will make a better impression on the judges and with the crowd than a band that marches along sloppily attired. It is important, therefore, to pay attention to turning out in the proper gear worn in an appropriate manner when playing with the Lyon College Pipe Band. Keep in mind that while wearing a kilt and the associated accessories may be something that a Lyon band member does all the time and may be taken for granted, for people in the audience it could well be a special occasion that they rarely experience. We want to make a good impression. Uniformity is really an important aspect. Everyone should look as much the same as possible.
When dressing, start at the bottom. Make sure your shoes are cleaned and polished. Not everyone is wearing gillie brogues, but even an inexpensive pair of black dress shoes should be shined. Wearing a pair of cotton ankle socks under your kilt hose will add an extra layer of cushion and will protect the heels and toes of your hose, extending the useful life. If you have more than one pair of kilt hose, make certain that you are wearing two that match. Itís easy when dressing in low light to grab one navy blue and a black or dark green. When wearing two matched socks, pull the hose tops all the way up over your knees and then fold them back over to create a cuff. A second fold over will probably be necessary, depending on how tall you are and how long the hose are. A pair of flashes may be worn, and now would be the time to position those so that the garters are hidden by the final fold down. The Lyon band wears navy blue flashes with LYON embroidered in gold. These should be worn to the outside of the upper shin, a few inches below the knee, with maybe two or three inches of the flash sticking out from the cuff. The tops of the kilt hose cuff should come up to an inch or two below the bottom of the kneecap and two tops should be even with one another.
Since your shirt will likely need to be tucked into the kilt, the shirt should probably go on next. Make sure youíre wearing a clean shirt, particularly if itís white. Ironed is good too. Donít look like you slept in it the night before. The Lyon band most often wears long-sleeved dress shirts. If going without a jacket on a hot day, the sleeves can always be rolled up. There may be some occasions when a short-sleeved shirt is specified by the Pipe Major. If we are wearing a short-sleeved shirt and open collar, a white T-shirt looks good. On cold days, layer. A long sleeved Under Armor thermal shirt, followed by a cotton T-shirt, followed by your dress shirt will help keep you warm.
When putting on a kilt, the pleats go in the back and the apron (the outer flap) goes in the front. Most of our kilts have a single buckle on the inner flap. That fastens on the left side. Then the apron comes across to the right and fastens with two buckles on the right hip. Adjust the kilt so that the buckles are resting around the hip bones and the apron is centered. The top of the kilt waistband should lie right around the navel or just above. The bottom edge of a proper-length kilt should rest just across the top of the knee. An inch or two of skin should be visible between the bottom of the kilt and the top of the kilt hose. The kilt pin should be affixed to the apron only. Donít try to use it to fasten the apron to the flap beneath. Itís just an added weight to keep the apron from blowing up in a breeze. Pit on your kilt belt next and center the buckle. Some say the belt should never be worn with a waistcoat (vest) and that the belt should never pass inside the belt loops on the back of the kilt. This is a personal preference. The Lyon band generally wears belts whether we wear waistcoats or not. As for the loops, if they arenít meant to allow for the belt to go through, why are they so wide? The sporran goes on next and the belt or chain should go through the loops, and over the top of the belt in any case so that the sporran can be adjusted side-to-side as necessary. The sporran itself should be worn in front, just below the pubic bone. Drummers often wear their sporrans turned to the right side to rest on the right flat-of-the-buttock so that the sporran isnít crushed by a drum. We currently wear a fairly plain black leather sporran on a plain black sporran belt.
The tie should come next. The Lyon band tie is navy blue with gold diagonal stripes separating gold lions rampant. A small knot, such as a Four-In-Hand or a Double Windsor looks the sharpest. The big knot died with Disco.
A blue waistcoat is worn over the shirt and tie, but on some occasions the waistcoat is left out at the discretion of the Pipe Major. The jacket is blue daywear with silver diamond-shaped buttons and matches the waistcoat. Check to make sure all your buttons are secure, and replace any that are missing. If the waistcoat is worn and buttoned, there is no real need to button the jacket as well. Youíre just covering the waistcoat.
The Lyon College Pipe Band wears a navy blue Balmoral bonnet with a white-diced headband and a brass lion rampant as a cap badge. Make sure you have a bonnet that fits your head. The headband should not come down over your ears, and the bonnet shouldnít ride too high on the crown of the head. The headband should rest on the forehead about an inch above the right eyebrow, and slightly higher above the left eyebrow so that the bonnet sits at a slight angle. The left side, with the rosette and cap badge should be pushed straight upward and the right side pulled down slightly over the ear, like a beret.
There are no Tartan Police, and no one is going to take away your birthday if you donít wear something the ďrightĒ way. In fact, there are many ideas about what the ďrightĒ way is. The majority of the people in Scotland donít wear kilts themselves, and those that do probably adhere to customs they were taught by someone who may or may not have been following traditions. Follow these guidelines, and you will present a well-dressed Lyon piper or drummer and leave a positive impression. Remember at all times that you are not dressing for yourself, but as a band member who is an ambassador for Lyon College. Quite often you will be in front of people who are not familiar with Lyon except through you, and the impression you make will be the one they retain of the college for quite some time to come.
And be nice. You never know when the little old lady youíre chatting with might be a Board member or someone who is thinking of making a contribution to the band or the college. Every youngster who talks to you is a potential Lyon student, and a possible future bandmate.