(COVINGTON, La.) The St. Paul’s Marching Wolves have been synonymous with style and flair with their dancing and musical taste in Mardi Gras parades and football games dating back to the 1970’s, accented by their unique uniforms, called the “Southern Gentleman” look by the school. However, the Marching Wolves have had many variations of this style since its inception.
In the 1970’s, St. Paul’s was suffering from public relations issues. Then Principal Bro. David Sinitiere wanted to change that, starting with the band.
“I thought, let’s put together a non-traditional band with a non-traditional uniform and a dance team. We can use them to maximize our emotional impact with the public.”
This was key in the development of a good image for St. Paul’s. Carmen Million, an advertising executive whose son was enrolled in the band at that time, designed the first Southern Gentleman uniform for St. Paul’s. Radio, television, and billboard advertisements followed. Soon, the Southern Gentlemen were sought after across the area for events, parades, and even locally produced movies.
The first version of the Marching Wolves’ look featured a gold jacket with blue trimming and faux pockets with a half-vest that was separate from the uniform, an ascot, a wide-brimmed hat, and the crowd favorite — the grey plaid pants. In the accompanying photo, Pierre Simoneaux models the first drum major outfit, a sparkling version of the regular uniform with gold pants.
“We thought the plaid was a little obnoxious, but they were our signature look that set us apart from other bands,” Simoneaux said. “The Mardi Gras crowds really got a kick out of them. People would actually grab the pants while we were marching by.”
Today, one of these uniforms can be seen hanging on the wall in the band room at St. Paul’s, donated by alumnus Mark Dixon.
The next edition of the Southern Gentleman uniform was the least intricate, but had the longest tenure, worn from 1984 until 2011. This uniform is still the one used in the band’s logo. Not all members of the band enjoyed them in their latter years, however.
“(The uniforms) didn’t fit anyone just right. The pants gave you a wedgie while you were marching, and they were very hot,” current Senior Drum Major Lane Sumrall said. “All of the pockets were fake — they were just holes. The uniforms were so old that most of the buttons were missing.”
Drum major uniforms evolved during this uniform’s tenure, from a studded white tuxedo reminiscent of the band’s uniforms at the time without the blue coat trim, to one with coat tails, colored vests, and colored ties, the same as used today. Top hats were also experimented with for a few years during this drum major uniform’s lifetime.
“I enjoyed the one-and-only St. Paul’s (drum major) uniform,” 2001-02 Drum Major Andrew Dart said. I mean, it’s a tuxedo, and not many bands do that. I remember stories when I was at LSU when people would know me from Mandeville and Fontainebleau because they saw me at the games. They worshiped the idea of the St Paul’s band.”
The current uniforms have been in use since the 2011-2012 school year, the school’s 100th anniversary. They provide both a nod to where St. Paul’s has been, and also to where they are going. The updates made to the uniform include the first real vest, tie, and dress shirt ever used in a Marching Wolves outfit, and updated jacket pockets with buttons on the ribs and a jacket bottom at a ninety degree angle, as opposed to curved, as it had been every year since the 1970’s. Drum majors’ outfits did not change for this edition of the uniform.
“It wasn’t about what was the future, it was about what’s in style and what will be in style in 20 years,” said Band Director Andrew Moran. “It was going from a dated jacket style from the 70’s with curved edges with no buttons to having the squared corners, to have two uniforms in one. We went with a full vest so that we could have a warm weather uniform and a full uniform,” said Moran.