Marching Band Uniforms Cost
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How Much Do Marching Band Uniforms Cost?

Last Updated on January 13, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Marching band uniforms are an iconic part of high school and college life in America. As marching bands take to football fields, parades, and competitions across the country, their flashy uniforms help them stand out from the crowd. But these specialized outfits don’t come cheap. So how much do marching band uniforms cost?

How Much Do Marching Band Uniforms Cost?

The cost of marching band uniforms varies widely, depending on a number of factors. Generally, you can expect to spend anywhere from $200 to $800 per uniform.

Custom-designed uniforms with lots of embellishments and details will fall at the higher end of that range. More basic uniforms made with standard materials and features will be towards the lower end.

cCormick’s for example, offers a range of band uniform items, including marching tops for $79.99, bibbers for $79.99, shako covers for $34.99, and core performance tops for $59.99. They also mention that their uniforms can outfit an entire band for under $200 per performer.

Bandmans provides “quick ship” marching band uniforms, including jackets, bibbers, and sashes. However, specific prices are not mentioned in the search results.

Let’s take a closer look at the different factors that influence the cost of marching band uniforms.

Factors That Impact the Cost of Band Uniforms

There are several important considerations that determine how much marching band uniforms will cost for any given band. Carefully evaluating each of these factors will help bands develop an accurate uniform budget.

Type of Uniform

The most significant factor is the overall style and type of uniform selected. Marching bands wear different styles of uniforms depending on their specific needs and budget. More elaborate, decorative uniform styles cost more than simpler, traditional styles.

  • Military-style: These traditional uniforms feature a jacket with decorative buttons, trim, piping, epaulettes, and other adornments. They typically include a shako hat with an oversized plume. This formal style starts at around $500 per uniform.
  • Corps-style: Inspired by drum corps uniforms, these feature a sleek, athletic jacket that sometimes incorporates oversized decorative buttons, metallic trim, or asymmetry. This modern style starts at around $300 per uniform.
  • Athletic style: Simple athletic-style uniforms feature basic windbreaker-style jackets and baseball caps. This casual and practical style starts at around $200 per uniform.
  • Custom design: Many bands choose to have completely custom-designed uniforms made just for them. One-of-a-kind custom uniforms allow for unique stylistic choices, school colors, mascots, and other personal touches. Custom-designed uniforms with unique fabrics, embellishments, colors, and styles cost over $700 per uniform.

Materials

The materials used to construct the jackets, pants, and hats also significantly impact the price of marching band uniforms. Synthetic, manufactured fabrics tend to be more affordable, while natural fabrics like wool and cotton cost more.

  • Polyester: The most affordable option, starting around $200 per uniform
  • Poly-wool blend: A slightly warmer blend with some natural fibers, priced from $250-$400
  • Wool blend: A high-quality wool and synthetic blend, providing both warmth and durability. Priced from $300-$500 per uniform.
  • Cotton: A 100% natural cotton uniform provides lightweight breathability. Cotton is priced from $400-$600 per uniform.
  • Custom fabrics: Unique fabrics like silk, gabardine, or textured wool blends cost over $600 per uniform.

Jacket Options

The jacket style and features add more costs to uniforms. More formal, elaborate jacket designs cost more than basic windbreaker-style jackets.

  • Double-breasted: A formal double-breasted jacket with two parallel rows of buttons costs about $100 more per uniform.
  • Zippered front: A practical zipper closure instead of buttons saves about $50 per jacket.
  • Braiding/piping: Decorative braided rope or contrasting piping adds $50-$100 per uniform.
  • Epaulettes: Ornate metallic or leather shoulder pieces cost $150-$300 per uniform depending on the complexity of the design.
  • Trim color: Adding a metallic or leather trim color accent costs $100-$200 per uniform.
  • Capes: Attaching a cape, chains, or other accessories adds $200-$400 per uniform.

Pants Options

Pant style and features also influence the cost. Traditional wool blend pants with lateral striping and custom sizing cost more than basic polyester pants ordered in standard sizes.

  • Wool blend: Warm, durable wool blend pants cost about $75-$150 per pair.
  • Polyester: Lightweight polyester pants cost around $50-$75 per pair.
  • Custom stripes: Lateral striping in custom colors adds $20-$40 per pair.
  • Standard sizes: Ordering standard S-XL pant sizes saves about $20 per pair.
  • Custom sizing: Getting pants precisely measured and fitted to each student costs about $40 more per pair.

Hat Choices

Marching bands can select shakos, caps, or other hats as part of their uniforms. More ornate, military-style shako hats cost more than basic caps.

  • Shako hat: Formal military shako hat costs $75-$150 each.
  • Baseball cap: Basic baseball-style cap costs $10-$25 each.
  • Custom logo: Adding custom school logo costs $10-$20 more per cap.
  • Plume: Decorative feather plume for shako is $15-$50 each.
  • Plume holder: Special metal clip to attach plume is $5-$10 each.
  • Chinstrap: Adjustable chinstrap to secure shako is $5-$10 each.
  • Visor: Short brim visor instead of full cap costs $5-$15 each.

Additional Accessories

Optional accessories for uniforms like gloves, shoes, and garment bags all add to the total cost per uniform.

  • Gloves: White marching gloves cost $5-$20 per pair.
  • Gauntlets: Formal ornamental wrist cuffs cost $10-$30 per pair.
  • Spats/leggings: White leg covers cost $20-$50 per set.
  • Shoes: Black marching shoes or boots cost $40-$80 per pair.
  • Garment bag: For storage and transport, $30-$75 each.
  • Hat box: Protective hat storage box is $20-$50 each.

Size Customization

One of the most impactful cost factors is whether uniforms are ordered in standard sizes or custom-tailored to fit each band member individually. Getting uniforms custom-made to match students’ measurements costs significantly more than ordering standard sizes. But it provides a more professional, uniform look.

  • Standard sizes: Ordering jackets and pants in small, medium, large, etc. saves about $50 per uniform.
  • Partial customization: Getting custom-tailored jackets with standard pants can help partially offset costs.
  • Full customization: Having each uniform individually fitted and tailored costs about $150 more per uniform.

Additional Cost Considerations

Beyond the upfront costs of purchasing the uniforms themselves, bands need to plan for a few additional recurring expenses in their annual budget.

Alterations

Allow for ongoing tailoring and alterations in your budget as students grow and their uniform sizes change each year. Plan to spend $25-$50 per uniform annually for adjustments.

Replacement Parts

Damaged uniform parts like torn pants, missing buttons, broken zippers, and worn hat decorations will need replacement over time. Budget approximately 5-10% of the original uniform cost per year for replacement parts.

Equipment

Invest in proper equipment like commercial garment racks, uniform carts, fabric steamers, and padded hangers to store and transport uniforms. Expect to spend $300-$500 on uniform gear.

You might also like our articles about the cost of a trombone, tuba, or competitive cheerleading.

Dry Cleaning

Uniforms may require professional dry cleaning a few times throughout marching season to look their best and prevent damage. Budget $10-$20 per uniform per cleaning, a few times per year.

Insurance

Consider adding the value of your uniforms to your band or school’s insurance policy. Insuring uniforms for their full replacement value averages around $2-$5 additional premium per uniform annually.

Ways to Reduce Marching Band Uniform Costs

If the cost of new marching band uniforms strains your program’s budget, use these smart strategies to save:

Buy Used Uniforms

Check with nearby high schools and colleges to see if they have recently retired marching band uniforms for sale at a discounted price. Even used uniforms may have several years of wear left.

Rent Instead of Buying

Marching Band Uniforms ExampleMany uniform companies offer affordable yearly uniform rental programs. This allows you to save substantially on upfront costs. Make renting all or a portion of your uniforms an annual budget line item.

Fundraising

Have your marching band students run an energetic fundraising campaign to offset uniform costs. Fundraising through sponsorships, donations, grants, and fun events engages students and the community.

Seek Grants

Research grants offered by musical associations, bands, instrument companies, and foundations. Many will contribute to uniform costs. Dedicate time to writing grant proposals.

Payment Plans

Work with uniform companies to split payments over two or more years to spread out upfront costs interest-free. Automatic deductions from your budget over time makes costs more manageable.

Prioritize Key Pieces

If necessary, prioritize purchasing jackets and pants first, and add accessories like shakos, plumes, gloves, shoes, etc. later as budget allows. Focusing on the essential uniform parts first keeps students looking sharp.

Care and Maintenance

Proper care and maintenance extends the life of uniforms, saving replacement costs. Steam clean instead of washing, and make timely repairs. Enforce rules to prevent damage and loss.

Buy Remnants

Check for available overstock fabric remnants or pre-designed trim/piping sets you can incorporate. Repurpose rather than make custom.

Minimize Extras

Stick to standard jacket and pants rather than ordering lots of additional accessories. Skip extras like capes, gauntlets and elaborate hats if needed.

Final Words

Marching band uniforms are certainly a major investment, but they provide students with years of pride, engagement, and memorable experiences. With smart budgeting, creative fundraising, cost-cutting, and money-saving strategies, bands can secure exciting uniforms while offsetting expenses.

Plan for per uniform costs between $200-$800 depending on your needs. But ultimately, the lifelong memories and personal growth that come from participating in marching band make the investment worthwhile. The magic of marching band should be accessible to all students, regardless of financial barriers.

Alec Pow
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