Monday, 19 May 2014

Uniforms in Guiding

So there are going to be new items of clothing for the Guide section (and only that section, before there is a panic), and apparently, they will be called 'uniform' (even though that's what most people called the existing items anyway).

Now before you ask, I have had no information or insights on what the new uniform items will be.  But I'm about to indulge in some predictions anyway.  Because I reckon the following comments will appear in all discussions regardless of what is produced:

The new garments are ill-fitting.  Yes, when the challenge is to create garments which will simultaneously fit the tall and the short, the plump and the slender, those with long torsos and short legs, and those with short torsos and long legs, in assorted combinations, the garments will not magically be able to fit all of those combinations, all at once.  Not to mention satisfying those who like snugly-fitting clothes versus those who like loose fitting, those who prefer short, 3/4 or long sleeve, opinions on collars, fastenings, use of darts, etc.  And that's before we consider that most parents will want to buy a larger size with 'room for growth' anyway - generations of Guides have spent their first terms inside garments which nearly drowned them!

The garments are the wrong colour/shade.  Yes, no matter what colour or combination thereof, there will be people who do not like part or all of the colour scheme. 

The garments do not launder well.  Cue the people who claim it ridiculous that uniform garments can't handle being laundered every week for 3-4 years without a certain loss of condition and colour in the fabric.  That argument has been utilised with every version of uniform for every section since 1912, so it's not unreasonable to assume that whatever is manufactured this time will not achieve the miracle of looking brand new umpteen launders later either.  And that the fabric will never shrink, stretch, or pucker under any circumstance.  And that every size will be utterly off-the-peg.

The garments are too expensive.  Just a 'stab in the dark' on my part, but people are hardly going to comment on how wonderfully inexpensive it is, no matter what is charged, so a fairly safe 'stab'.  Sometimes, you do have to pay a little extra compared to the mass market if you want to be picky about things like durable fabric and fair treatment of the workers who manufacture.

The garments are impractical.  Well let me see, practical for what?  It seems to me that what people want is a garment that is durable and comfortable for our outdoor activities - the sort of thing we can do hiking and sailing and camping and the like in.  But of course, at the same time, they also want the same garment to be smart enough for formal events.  That same garment also has to be cool enough to wear in summer, but warm enough to wear in winter too.  It ideally needs to be crease-proof, shaking off crumples so that it's no problem to go straight from camp to parade with no access to an iron.  And that's before we start on different people's interpretations of what is 'practical', or 'smart'!

So, to sum up, what people want is a garment which fits Guides of all widths and heights, which is in the 'right' colour, which will not fade, shrink or stretch no matter how it is laundered, which will be equally at home when hiking in the countryside or taking part in a formal parade, and yet this miracle garment with all these qualities - won't cost too much.  Don't ask for much, do we!

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