Wearing bandleader costumes is a sure way to set you apart from the rest of the band. Standing at the head of the parade, the bandleader's outfit matches in color and is decorated in braid and plumes to sport a military flair.
Basic Bandleader Costume Elements
The basic elements of bandleader costumes are distinctly different for both men and women. A jacket, tailored trousers or skirt and matching hat are the staples of any bandleader outfit, and the leader's outfit is set apart by the addition of extra trim or embellishments.
A bandleader's jacket is the most colorful piece of the ensemble. This jacket is often in the color of the band and matches with the band members own jackets. The cut of the jacket is not tight, so that there is freedom of movement for both conducting and marching. A man's bandleader jacket may be cut similar to a shadbelly, where the front of the jacket ends just above the waist and the rear of the jacket flares into tails. The jacket closes evenly along the front and sports a high collar, often decorated with braid or trim. A woman's bandleader outfit may have a more traditional, double breasted style with braid and trim embellishments. Be careful to avoid tight fitting jackets for women, or the costume's purpose will be lost and it may look like a majorette costume instead.
The bottom of a man's bandleader outfit is uniform trousers, pressed with a front crease and tailored. These trousers will be fitted moderately loosely, as marching and conducting duties will require freedom of movement. For women, a tailored skirt can be used in the place of trousers, worn with tights or stockings and low heeled marching shoes for a more feminine appearance. Both trousers and skirts may have a matching stripe of material or accents to match the jacket, helping to coordinate the outfit.
The unforgettable crowning glory of any bandleader costume is the hat. This type of hat features a short brim, a high crown and a flat top which is sometimes accented with a plume. Hats for band costumes will generally be in a matching color to the rest of the outfit. Attached to the hat are details such as a badge or insignia on the center of the front and braid to match the bandleader's jacket. The hat may also have extra embellishments or braid, signifying their position as the leader of the band.
Fancy embellishments are at the center of attention in any bandleader's outfit. This refers to trim, buttons, feathers and plumes as well as insignia and badges. Ornamentation can be colored or made of metals such as brass or silver. The bandleader's jacket will have the same trim as the band members, but may also have attachments such as epaulets or extra insignia to denote their rank. Insignia on their hat can also be used to signify their position of leadership.
Sources for Costumes
Bands for schools and organizations may have a ready supply of uniforms from previous members which can then be tailored to fit current members and embellished if necessary. Purchasing a bandleader's outfit can quickly become very expensive and may become a problem if the school or organization decides to change the color or style of the uniform, a common practice in competition based bands. In many cases, the band itself will have a recommended uniform supply company that can supply all of the details of a bandleader's ensemble, from hat to shoes.