Brian writes: ‘As someone who attends as many top piping competitions as I can, I am dismayed to see how some of the top pipers do not seem to care how they ‘turn out’.
‘Even at the major competitions it seems to be the fashion not to wear a jacket if you can get away with it and dress like a snooker player. If you find it awkward to play in a jacket you should practice with one on.
‘My pet hate is loose ties. All pipers get made to measure kilts but seem unable to buy made to measure shirts which would enable them to fasten their collar while playing. Made to measure shirts can be bought for £35 – £40 and some of the biggest culprits can well afford that from their prize money.
‘I would like to see some rules for female players. Some wear a jacket and tie while others seem to be able to dress as they like. If a male competitor was to appear to play at the Northern Meeting with a tee-shirt, no jacket or bonnet would he be allowed to play? I`m all for equality of the sexes in piping but let us have a sense of occasion at the major competitions. Same rules for all.’
The Editor responds: ‘In my report on the Northern Meeting a couple of weeks back I made mention of a piper who appeared without a bonnet, contrary to the rules, yet he was allowed to play. My point then was that once dispensations are permitted we end up on a slippery slope. I’m not sure I agree with Brian’s point regarding lady pipers however. In my view appropriate lady’s wear, tartan skirt etc. should be encouraged rather than ill-fitting male attire.
‘In bands it is different of course, the ladies have to conform to the majority but in the solo world I see nothing wrong with how the likes of Anna Kummerlöw and Fiona Manson dress for competition. And in days gone by Anne Stewart (Spalding) and Ann Sinclair (Johnston) always dressed appropriately.’
Well what do readers think? Do women pipers have an advantage on dress? Are men getting sloppy? Does it matter so long as everyone plays well?
• Unclear about Highland dress? Check out our feature here.