While winter isn't typically a popular time for marching band, there are the occasional festivals, parades or competitions to travel to in warmer areas that get bands playing in the offseason. Because marching band isn't an art made for inclement weather, though, you need to know how to dress appropriately to survive the cold. Whether you're getting ready for an outdoor performance or just on your way to practice, properly dressing this winter means combining functionality with warmth. These will help maintain your health and your performance:
Layering is one of the most important parts of winter wardrobes. This will help you stay cozy and preserve your good health throughout the season. The trick of layering in marching band, however, is to be strategic. Proper layering needs to be dense enough to keep you warm without being too bulky so that you can't move. It also needs to allow you to remove items as you warm up or add them if you get colder. James Preste, the marketing director for Cheer Factor, told Halftime Magazine that a lightweight, wind and waterproof outer layer is ideal.
"The reason people get cold is that wind blows through the fabric," Preste explained.
Preste also recommended avoiding nylon fabric, though, as it restricts movement and can make you too hot. Another good way to layer is to wear fitted clothing under your uniform, like thermal undergarments. Not only will they keep you cozy, they'll easily fit under your uniform or practice outfit. This kind of layering is useful for performances when your outward appearance really counts.
Wear warm accessories
Winter accessories like hats, scarves and gloves are fundamental to any cold weather outfit. Luckily, gloves are frequently used in marching band uniforms, but it's still tricky to keep your hands from becoming frigid. They're one of the most important parts of your body to play your instrument or handle your equipment, so you need full mobility without freezing your fingers off. While mittens are ideal for keeping hands warmer longer, they aren't great for most musicians. To get around this issue, musicians sometimes use "convertible mittens" that allow you to fold back the top half to use your fingers. You could also use an external hand warmer. Even if you aren't playing, you'll be glad you took care of your hands of this winter by limiting their exposure to the cold and keeping them moisturized.
Don't neglect your feet
Keeping your feet toasty is always a good idea, but when you're marching, it's essential. For this reason, you need to choose the right socks. Wool socks are usually the best option, but if you're going to be playing outside, make sure they fit into your band shoes. Your toes are often the first extremity to react to the cold, especially if your footwear isn't up to the task of keeping you insulated.
Health over mobility and performance
While playing your best is a top priority, health should always come first. You need to accept that you may make some sacrifices in performance quality and appearance to stay warm. Keep in mind that the band's performance would definitely suffer much more if everyone became sick from freezing. You should also keep this in mind even if you aren't performing outside in cold weather. Maintaining your health in the winter starts with dressing properly for the weather.