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Color Guard Uniforms - can we talk?


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#1 TxDragonDad

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Posted 10 November 2018 - 07:09 PM

I probably will get beat up for opening this Pandora's box.   

 

First - I know this thread is for show/drill and composers, so, this may appear slightly off topic.   However, shows are complete packages and very often include integrated costume designs.   I think the decision makers and designers are likely involved in color guard costume design in conjunction with drill design/selection.

 

Each year, I see a wide variety of color guard costumes/uniforms.   Each year, I think, "why oh why did someone think that was a good choice?"   I know most every parent has seen and thought the same thing.  We may whisper it to our friend or spouse, but I bet we are afraid to speak in a larger forum about this topic out of fear of criticism.    I guess I have no fear or possibly no filter.   So here it is.

 

Folks, this is high school band.   Kids come in all shapes and sizes.   Color guard is inclusive of boys and girls.   Why on earth are costume designers failing to consider these facts when designing uniforms and costumes?   If I were a band director, I would never approve/buy anything for my band without investigating how it would look on all students.   It seems that designers create and represent their concepts only as they would appear on an athletic physique and for guard only the female physique.   Come on designers!  Can you start with designing a costume that looks great on a plus sized student, a stick figure, and boys?   Yes boys are in color guards.  More each year.  Designers consider starting your first concept for a boy, and then adapt it for a girl, not the other way around as an afterthought.      Your uniform should look great on all students.   You can do better.  

 

While I'm already talking about this topic, I might as well ask for some dignity, too.   Skin tight, extremely thin body suits requiring inadequate support undergarments?   Really?   I am grateful that my child chose a marching instrument.  I would refuse to allow my student to wear some of these inappropriately fitting uniforms.   Do any of the parents every complain or ask for better costumes for your kids?    I get that the guard has morphed into dance, but skin tight is not the only type of garment which allows for dance moves.   Let's demand more dignity for the students.   I'll probably get called a prude, and I'm OK with that.  Still, I think too many uniforms/costumes go too far past the "dignity" line.  

 

Band Directors - I think you have the most power in correcting this concern.   You should set expectations when contacting designers.  You should give them clear "requirements" as to what is acceptable.   You can reject designs and don't purchase from designers who fail to offer comprehensive, dignified costumes.   You can drive demand for a better product.  They design what they think will sell.   Give them new thoughts.

 

So there it is.  Out in the public space for discussion.   Am I off the mark here or am I putting into words what you all have thought at least once each season?

 

 

 

 



#2 LeanderMomma

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 12:33 AM

Amen, amen, amen, amen, amen. Call me a prude as well, but I find so many of the color guard costumes cringe worthy these days. And putting those skin tight body suits on the chunkier girls/boys is outright cruel!!! It makes me angry and sad when I see some of these poor kids in a body stocking. I do not understand why this is the current trend. What exactly are we seeking to do with these costumes? Sexualize teenagers? Shame the chubby kids? Embarrass the boys? I truly see no redeeming qualities in the current trend. I look forward to a time when the style is less sexual and more flattering to all.

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#3 LostChoirGuy

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 01:48 AM

Some of the "artistic" designs are just ugly to me, too- but I guess thats because I don't understand show design.

#4 Rudedog34

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 02:19 AM

Probably bias, but Henny's guard always seems to compliment the show and the physics of the performers.

#5 Mash

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 03:45 AM

I agree, My daughter was in color guard and I saw many outfits that struck me as not appropriate or just plain ill fitting.  My daughter, like many of them blossomed early and it was hard and expensive for us to find supporting undergarments that worked for her in the outfit.



#6 LeanderMomma

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Posted 11 November 2018 - 05:16 PM

I paid attention to this in depth last night at Grand Nats and I was pleased to see many of the top bands using a more complimentary guard costume. Most were the dreaded body suit, but they included a skirt or overdress that was absolutely flattering on every single guard member. I was quite impressed with this fact after this recent discussion, and it gives me hope for the future.

And to be fair, I have also noticed that the heavily patterned and boldly colored body suits are far more attractive on these kids than the single colors that make it look like the child is practically naked. Kudos to the guard directors who are considering our babies and their self esteem when they are choosing costumes!
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#7 takigan

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Posted 17 November 2018 - 03:37 AM

Each year, I see a wide variety of color guard costumes/uniforms.   Each year, I think, "why oh why did someone think that was a good choice?"   I know most every parent has seen and thought the same thing.  We may whisper it to our friend or spouse, but I bet we are afraid to speak in a larger forum about this topic out of fear of criticism.    I guess I have no fear or possibly no filter.   So here it is.

 

Folks, this is high school band.   Kids come in all shapes and sizes.   Color guard is inclusive of boys and girls.   Why on earth are costume designers failing to consider these facts when designing uniforms and costumes?   If I were a band director, I would never approve/buy anything for my band without investigating how it would look on all students.   It seems that designers create and represent their concepts only as they would appear on an athletic physique and for guard only the female physique.   Come on designers!  Can you start with designing a costume that looks great on a plus sized student, a stick figure, and boys?   Yes boys are in color guards.  More each year.  Designers consider starting your first concept for a boy, and then adapt it for a girl, not the other way around as an afterthought.      Your uniform should look great on all students.   You can do better.  

 

While I'm already talking about this topic, I might as well ask for some dignity, too.   Skin tight, extremely thin body suits requiring inadequate support undergarments?   Really?   I am grateful that my child chose a marching instrument.  I would refuse to allow my student to wear some of these inappropriately fitting uniforms.   Do any of the parents every complain or ask for better costumes for your kids?    I get that the guard has morphed into dance, but skin tight is not the only type of garment which allows for dance moves.   Let's demand more dignity for the students.   I'll probably get called a prude, and I'm OK with that.  Still, I think too many uniforms/costumes go too far past the "dignity" line.  

 

Band Directors - I think you have the most power in correcting this concern.   You should set expectations when contacting designers.  You should give them clear "requirements" as to what is acceptable.   You can reject designs and don't purchase from designers who fail to offer comprehensive, dignified costumes.   You can drive demand for a better product.  They design what they think will sell.   Give them new thoughts.

 

So there it is.  Out in the public space for discussion.   Am I off the mark here or am I putting into words what you all have thought at least once each season?


I'm not going to name specific schools though there are indeed a couple of shows that *immediately* come to mind, but I'm going to say honestly that those schools were indeed a bit blush-inducing and I have silently wondered to myself how in the world they got away with it without some huge backlash from the parents or community.  I blame my own conservative upbringing.  But then you remember communities have different cultures, both socially and band-related.  If you tried to shoe-horn some of these costume ideas past certain other communities, it would get stopped....someone would complain to the school board and there would be an intervention. 

But not in others.  Some mothers find these types of uniforms empowering for their daughters....some might be a bit unsettled, but go through with it if they feel like the staff is doing it with good intentions. There's also a shifting consciousness for women embracing their plus-sized figures.  Some of them have likely embraced the uniform as a means of overcoming these issues.  I do fear for the ones that might feel shamed by it; shamed into wearing a uniform they don't want to wear, or shamed into quitting guard because they didn't feel comfortable wearing it.  Men and boys are also more in touch with their feminine side than ever before.  More men use skin products than ever, and many boys (straight or gay) have no problem wearing a uniform that has a tinge of femininity to it, whether it be spandex or body glitter.  But again, I worry for the occasional few that might not feel comfortable with it....were their feelings taken into consideration, or were they forced to swallow their pride for the benefit of the group?

I tend to give schools the benefit of the doubt, as most directors are taking into consideration anything that might potentially go wrong with uniform choices.  High School is a delicate time for body-consciousness, but it's also one where band can help students cope with such issues.

This is a sensitive topic, but still an interesting one that I'm glad you've brought up.


Brandon Quam - TxB Staff Writer




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