WHY DO MARCHING BANDS WEAR PLUMES?
The history of marching band shako plumes goes all the way back to the middle ages when musicians joined feudal armies. Like the soldiers in these armies, musicians wore feathers and colors to show their loyalty to a lord. In the 17th to 19th centuries, national armies began wearing standardized uniforms, many of which included design elements and embellishments including plumes, shakos and helmets, trims, buttons, and epaulets – bands were no exception.
While uniform designs have dramatically changed since the middle ages, they still retain a lot of their military influences, adapting to fit school colors and show themes of America’s marching bands and drum corps. Today, heavy wool fabrics have been replaced with polyesters and spandex blends for comfort and movement but the plume still endures. Once there to indicate nationality or rank, today plumes still serve a purpose, not only to add drama but to help audiences "connect the dots" during field formations. Full feather plumes also help bands and corps to convey a story, adding height and drama to performers, giving them a larger than life feel.
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