Guide uniform 2014

There have whispers and rumours of new Guide uniform for months and today the first pictures were finally released. My thoughts are very much half-formed because I need to see it in real life, I need to see it worn by Guides and I need to just plain get used to it.

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I’ve spent the entire day on the internet reading other peoples’ opinions and have a few issues with some of the main problems.

What will it look like next to the Scouts at Remembrance Parade? The Scouts look so smart and uniform and the Guides just look a mess.

Remembrance Parade is one day a year. In an ideal world, of course we’d have a formal shirt and tie or something like that. But in practice, parents begrudge the buying of uniform so the one they buy has to be really practical and I’d rather it was suitable for week-in week-out wear than suitable for that one day a year. I can see why we don’t have shirts as part of the selection. Senior Section and Adults both have a smart shirt and I don’t know anyone below commissioner level who wears it. We can’t compete with the Scouts. We have the whole weight of the male-female divide on top of us, we have over 100 years of cultural expectation to fight. We need to make an extra effort to look like a modern organisation who doesn’t sit around sewing, we have to look like we do more active things, more exciting things so by necessity our uniform has to be less formal than the Scouts’.

In terms of “we look a mess”, this new uniform is at least a little more uniform than the last one. See the photos of Guides running around in this one – they all match, even though they’re all wearing different things. Everything is now the same colour with the same obvious accents. The last one had two different shades of navy, and the t-shirt and rugby shirt navy just looked like the polo shirt navy had faded and there was also the option of the stripy polo shirt (which I personally hated it because the stripes confused my eyes in the way stripes on TV do).

It’s the wrong blue, Guides are navy and red is for Rainbows!

Wrong! Guides wore a fairly bright blue throughout the 90s, in the Jeff Banks uniform that seems to be celebrated as the ultimate Guide uniform. I believe the shirts that came before that were closer to bright blue than navy blue. It’s only that the last uniform was navy. And red has always (or least as far back as I can remember) been the Guide accent colour. In my handbook, the Guides all wore red neckerchiefs and all the merchandise invariably featured red neckerchiefs, despite the fact that Guides could wear any colour. It’s been the accent colour on the current uniform – that long-sleeved top is almost identical to the sweatshirt from the current uniform, other than the fabric, the fit and the shade of blue. Alright, the red sleeves on the polo shirt and the pocket on the hoodie are a bit jarring at the moment. In fact, before the current uniform, Rainbows were bright green.

It looks so childish, are you sure it’s for Guides and not Rainbows?

It does look a bit Rainbow-like, mainly due to the fact that Rainbow polo shirt is also blue with red sleeves. But Rainbow blue is a very pale grey-tinted blue. I think the other thing is simply that the girl wearing the dress looks very young. We might be looking at the dress very differently if the blonde girl was wearing it. It may look a little bit like the Rainbow tabard in that it has no sleeves and it has a skirt but other than that, I think you’re just going out of your way to be difficult.

My dd will leave Guides if they make her wear that!

One, “dd” winds me up in the same way as the phrase “blessed to be a mummy” does. Two, no Guide unit is going to “make” their girls wear anything. The current uniform is still uniform until September 2016 and it’s still on sale. Most Guide leaders are looking at this the same way you are – they don’t want the girls to wear it either. And although they might mutter darkly about girls who persistently refuse to wear uniform, I can’t imagine any girl being threatened with being thrown out of the unit for it, especially the older ones. You can’t make them wear uniform, even the current one. Three, there seem to be a lot of parents judging it on behalf of their girls/daughters without actually consulting them. I’m not saying the girls are going to love it but give them a chance to make up their own minds!

The dress and skirt are just disgusting

No, not disgusting. I don’t like the skirt but the skirt is optional and if Guides choose not to buy it, it’ll fade out of the collection the way the rugby shirt did after a couple of years. I quite like the dress but then that’s the sort of dress shape I quite like. Don’t know that I’d actually go so far as to wear it. It is a bit of a pinafore and you have to wear another top underneath it, be it a uniform top or your own top in blue or black. Given the chances that you’re wearing a uniform top underneath, it seems a bit redundant, especially as they’re encouraging girls to wear leggings underneath too. I’m also bewildered by the D-ring on the dress which isn’t on anything else. Why?

It looks like Dominos/building society uniform

It does look a bit corporate, not helped by lack of trefoil. Ok, the Senior Section uniform has no obvious logo either and it also has different colour sleeves but the Senior Section colours sit together more comfortably. It’s not so bad. I can imagine having a pack of girls in polo shirt and hoodie running around, I can picture it as Guide uniform.

What other opinions do I have? Well, I really like the long-sleeved top. It looks like a lot of my thermal tops. However, I would wear them as base layers and not as tops on their own. They’re too thin and clingy for regular wear unless you’re built like a lamp post and mine are about 80% transparent, although I hope the Guide version isn’t. It might look quite nice popping out from under the polo shirt as an extra warm layer for winter.

Mixed feelings on the attempt to introduce “secondary accent colours” of purple and lime green by making the zips half purple half green.

The hoodie is supposed to be softshell fabric rather than sweatshirt fabric. Mixed feelings there too. It makes me a bad outdoorsperson but I’m not entirely sure what softshell fabric actually is. I think it’s supposed to be soft but when I’ve poked softshells in shops it feels almost like waterproof coat fabric, a bit stiff, a bit rustly. I hope that’s not what the hoodies are like. I’m picturing them like my Icelandic jackets for now – almost like neoprene on the outside, fleecy on the inside.

I’m not hugely keen on the strip of pattern fabric across the bottom of the dress. Maybe it’s an attempt to make it look more uniform with the skirt or to make it look like it’s supposed to be a dress and not an over-long polo shirt (if the polo shirt is worn under it).

I think the main problem with the whole thing is merely that it’s new and quite dramatically different to the current uniform and that everyone’s overreacting – you have no idea how many times I’ve seen comments like “no one’s going to want to go to Guides if you have to wear that” “all the girls are going to go to Scouts now” “I predict all the older Guides leaving because of it” “my daughter was due to start Guides but now she doesn’t want to” etc. I’ve emailed all my own Guides, just to clarify that they absolutely do not have to buy the new uniform before we go back in September, and asked for feedback on it. I want to know what the girls think, not what the parents think.