The Golden Band from Tiger Land: A Brief Fashion History

By Shelbi Adams, Dana Alsoub, Cody McCain, Thomas Mogensen,, and Tyler Montero

first photograph of band
Figure 1: Earliest photograph of the Tiger Band, no date available.

The Golden Band from Tiger Land originated in the late 1800s as an eleven-member university cadet band. The first organization meeting took place on November 20, 1893, just five days prior to the first ever Louisiana State University football.

1897-1898
Figure 2

Figure 2 is a photograph of the Louisiana State University cadet band, captured sometime during 1897-1898. Still, the cadet band uniforms resembled that of a military uniform. We can see from this photograph that the cadet band had nearly doubled in size. The gentleman in the dark suit, centered in this photograph, is Ruffin Pleasant. Pleasant had graduated from Harvard and served as director of the cadet band. Pleasant’s dark suit signified his superior role within the organization.

1915
Figure 3: Cadet Band at the Pentagon Barracks, which was a former military post, on 3rd Street in downtown Baton Rouge near what would later become the state Capitol grounds.

Figure 3 shows the cadet band in the early 1900s. The cadet band changed their uniform design with hopes of differentiating themselves from other cadets. Until this point, cadet band uniforms and cadet uniforms were identical. As of 1915, the cadet band incorporated uniforms with white trim, contrasting from the black-trimmed uniforms worn by other cadets.

1916
Figure 4: Cadet Band in 1916, in front of the Pentagon Barracks in Downtown Baton Rouge off of 3rd Street.

Figure 4 is a picture of the cadet band in 1916. The cadet band experienced one of the most distinct changes in uniform during this time. The founding of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) at Louisiana State University encouraged the cadet band to change from a military-style band to an ROTC band. The uniforms also changed, giving band members a more state-trooper/park-ranger look.

1928-1929
Figure 5: Now named the Louisiana State University Band, its members can be seen in formation in this photograph taken between 1928-1929 on the grounds of LSU’s present-day campus, approximately three miles south of the old campus.

The picture in Figure 5 was taken during 1928-1929, when the Louisiana State University cadet band was experiencing record enrollment. The organization, comprising of a record-breaking 80 members during this time, had transitioned back to a military-style uniform. The drum major, front and center, was recognized by his white trim and shako plume.

The Louisiana State University cadet band members continued wearing military-inspired uniforms throughout the 1940s and the 1950s. The following picture (Figure 6) was taken in 1946 and shows the first female members of the Louisiana State University cadet band. Women first joined the organization during World War II, when enrollment was at an all-time low due to men going off to war. The uniforms worn by women in the cadet band were the same uniforms worn by male cadet band members.

first lsu band members
Figure 6: First female band members in 1946. They wore the same uniforms worn by male band members.
1959
Figure 7: New Band Uniforms purchased after Band Hall fire in 1959

The band hall caught fire in 1959, burning the structure of the hall and everything within. Band uniforms were destroyed. Figure 7 is a picture of the new band uniforms that were purchased following the tragedy. These uniforms were worn by band members at the beginning of the band’s shift away from the traditional military style, to the more modern “Tiger Band” style as we know it today.

1965
Figure 8: 1965 Tiger Band Uniforms

Figure 8 is an image of Louisiana State University Tiger Band uniforms in 1965. Band uniforms continued shifting towards a more modern band uniform and away from the traditional military-style uniform. Shoulder pads were eliminated, and the chest piece was replaced with two straps crossing the chest in an “X” shape.

1970s
Figure 9: Tiger Band in the 1970s

Figure 9 pictures the Tiger Band in the early 1970s, when capes were worn for the very first time.

1983
Figure 10: Tiger Band uniform that most closely resembles the one worn until Spring of 2017

It wasn’t until 1983 that we see a band uniform similar to the uniform worn by Tiger Band members today (Figure 10). Uniform garments included gold tunics, purple pants with a gold pinstripe going down the outside of each leg, white marching shoes, white gloves, white and purple hats, and white shako plumes. The gold tunics were open in the front. A white, ruffled undershirt was worn beneath.

present day
Figure 11: Tiger Band uniforms worn until Fall 2017

Figure 11 pictures the uniforms worn by Tiger Band members today. These uniforms are very similar in design to the 1983 uniforms: members dress in gold tunics, purple pants with golden pinstripes, white marching shoes, white gloves, white and purple hats, and white shako plumes. The differences between these two uniforms lie within the detail of the garments. For example, today’s uniform tops are closed and trimmed in an Aztec design, chords are worn around the arms of each band member, and the design of the hats are different.

So, what does the future of Tiger Band uniforms look like? We can expect to see Tiger Band members sporting new uniforms in August 2017. The new band uniforms will have the same basic design as the current uniforms, but the new uniforms will be cut differently to make Tiger Band members look taller and stronger. There will also be a slight change in uniform color, as the organization seeks a brighter and truer ‘LSU’ purple.

Works Cited

Fig 1. Contine, Tom and Faye Phillips. The Golden Band from Tigerland: A History of LSU’s Marching Band. LSU Press, 2016. Page 1. Print.

Fig 2. Contine, Tom and Faye Phillips. The Golden Band from Tigerland: A History of LSU’s Marching Band. LSU Press, 2016. Page 2. Print.

Fig 3. Contine, Tom and Faye Phillips. The Golden Band from Tigerland: A History of LSU’s Marching Band. LSU Press, 2016. Page 5. Print.

Fig 4. Contine, Tom and Faye Phillips. The Golden Band from Tigerland: A History of LSU’s Marching Band. LSU Press, 2016. Page 8. Print.

Fig 5. Contine, Tom and Faye Phillips. The Golden Band from Tigerland: A History of LSU’s Marching Band. LSU Press, 2016. Page 10. Print.

Fig 6. Contine, Tom and Faye Phillips. The Golden Band from Tigerland: A History of LSU’s Marching Band. LSU Press, 2016. Page 37. Print.

Fig 7. Contine, Tom and Faye Phillips. The Golden Band from Tigerland: A History of LSU’s Marching Band. LSU Press, 2016. Page 50. Print.

Fig 8. Contine, Tom and Faye Phillips. The Golden Band from Tigerland: A History of LSU’s Marching Band. LSU Press, 2016. Page 63. Print.

Fig 9. Contine, Tom and Faye Phillips. The Golden Band from Tigerland: A History of LSU’s Marching Band. LSU Press, 2016. Page 71. Print.

Fig 10. Contine, Tom and Faye Phillips. The Golden Band from Tigerland: A History of LSU’s Marching Band. LSU Press, 2016. Page 95. Print.

Fig 11. Contine, Tom and Faye Phillips. The Golden Band from Tigerland: A History of LSU’s Marching Band. LSU Press, 2016. Page 67. Print.