Think the Pride of Oklahoma is looking a little different but can’t put your finger on why?
Look closely and you’ll see their tinseled, white plumes are a little taller, their coats a little crisper. And if science has any say in it, the Pride is, well, a little prouder all around. They've got new uniforms to thank for that.
“When you see a group that looks the right way in their uniforms, it sets the tone for the audience member that you expect it to sound and look great, and I think the students are prouder of themselves when they look that way,” Pride Director Brian Britt said.
“You don’t show up with a clean and pressed uniform by accident. You don’t have the correct sleeve length and pants length by accident. Your plume isn’t straight by accident. You have to do those things. And the same attention to detail is reflective of how you play your music and how you march your drill and the pride you take in representing the university. That commitment to something larger than yourself — it’s not something that just happens. You have to mean to do that.”
Richard Fruhauf of Fruhauf Uniforms, Inc. (You guessed it: the makers of the Pride’s sleek new uniforms and sole manufacturer of Pride uniforms since the 1930s) has the same sentiments as Britt. When you’re dressed for success, it’s reflected in your posture, your performance and your pride.
“If that garment fits them correctly, they feel good about themselves,” Fruhauf said. “When you feel good about yourself, you’re more inclined to feel better, enjoy the program more and just enjoy the whole marching band lifestyle.”
The Pride unveiled the new uniforms this summer to widespread fan — and band member — approval. University of Oklahoma Facebook followers were wowed by the length of the plumes (or plumage, if you really know your marching band history) and called the new duds “gorgeous,” “beautiful” and “sharp.”
See below: The University of Oklahoma created Pride of Oklahoma paper dolls that Sooner fans can download, print and dress up. Download the PDFs from the slideshow or at the bottom of this page!
Britt describes the uniform redesign as “evolutionary” versus “revolutionary.” The new look, which inverses the crimson and cream (erm, white) colors, keeps many of the same traditional elements of uniforms past. For instance, who’s ever heard of a Pride uniform without the interlocking OU? And shakos — love’em or hate’em — are here to stay.
The new uniforms have lost the shoulder pieces — the plastic wings on the tips of the shoulders that would break down during dry-cleaning and limit the life of the uniform. Those used to give the band members a bigger, stronger presence, but Britt says the new uniforms shoot for a more streamlined, contemporary look, with the cut of the coat coming to a point in the front.
The shakos as well as the plumes are taller, which Britt says will give the group a stronger visual presence on the field.
And let’s talk about weight and breathability, which is a huge concern, because have you been to Oklahoma in September? Gone are the days of sweating through 100 percent wool uniforms. Now the Pride dons a dac/wool blend, or mix of 80 percent dacron and 20 percent wool, that’s about 30 percent lighter than the old uniforms. Students — and Walden Cleaners — rejoice.
Putting it all together
So, what’s it like to actually design a marching band uniform? Pretty fun, according to Britt. He worked with representatives from Fruhauf Uniforms, Inc. in Wichita, Kansas, to redesign the uniforms in December 2014. In his words, it’s sort of like a trip to the optometrist, sansSnellen chart.
“It’s kind of like going to the eye doctor,” Britt said. “Is it better here, or here? Here, or here? So it’s like, ‘Do you want this? Or would you like that?’ We could do a lot of compare and contrast type stuff and really find the right look.”
Fruhauf says the eye doctor metaphor is accurate: The band representatives sit down with folks from Fruhauf and together they tweak the uniforms digitally until they’ve settled on the final design.
“We’re able to move our lines and adjust our shapes and contours of the garment, and you can see it in real time and say ‘I like that,’ or 'No, I don’t like that. Let’s try something different.’ In doing a design you’re always manipulating the lines and the curves and the trims that go on there. The options of doing something are endless.”
Despite the infinite choices, the process, from start to finish, takes about two hours. From there, the manufacturing of the uniforms, for a band the size of the 300-member Pride, takes anywhere from 120 to 160 days.
Fruhauf Uniforms, Inc. kept its Facebook followers in the loop about the progress of the Pride uniforms throughout the summer.
Keep a piece of history
New uniforms have been a long time coming, and no one knows this better than the Pride. In a perfect world, band uniforms would be replaced every seven-eight years, with the 50 worst uniforms being replaced each year after year five, Britt said.
And while Sooner Land is pretty swell, it’s certainly not perfect. The Pride hasn’t had new uniforms since 2003, when it unveiled its current uniforms in the Rose Parade on New Year’s Eve.
The organization spent about $300,000 on this year’s uniforms, with each Pride member receiving two coats, a pair of pants, a shako and plume. Each uniform comes in around $700.
The Pride is a third of the way through its fundraising campaign to cover the cost of the uniforms. Those who donate could take home a piece of history in the form of retired marching band apparel. Check here to donate and learn more about the campaign: bit.ly/OUPride.
See the Pride of Oklahoma in their new uniforms at the University of Oklahoma's first game of the season against Akron — also Band & Spirit Day — at 6 p.m. Sept. 5 at home.
Learn more about the Pride's new drum major, Kyle Mattingly.