The first photo on this page is that of the first Kentucky Colonel, Charles Todd. We assume he is wearing his official uniform. The year would have been about 1820. Headquarters is frequently asked if there is now, or has there ever been an official Colonel “uniform” endorsed by the Honorable Order. “Sort of” is the answer. The issue was a topic of much discussion in the early days of the Order. Even as late as 1946, members were polled for their opinion on the issue.
The 1931 organizational meeting of what was then called “The Kentucky Colonels” indeed adopted a recommendation for both regular and dress uniforms. If you would like to have your tailor measure you for one, here are the specifications for the “full dress” version taken from the minutes of the meeting:
“… a dark blue jacket much shorter than the Tuxedo coat, silk faced lapels, gold buttons, gold braid epaulets on the shoulders, gold aigulette (braided cord) suspended from the right shoulder, five narrow embroidered gold stripes extending halfway up the sleeve from the cuff and intertwined in a circular pattern, and the aide-de-camp shield with the small letters ‘KY’ worn on the cuff. Trousers are dark blue evening dress trousers with a gold stripe down the outer seams. A stiff bosom white shirt, wing collar, black bow tie, blue military dress cap, blue officers evening cape and black shoes completes this uniform.”
Although the recommendation was approved, not everyone agreed to wear the uniform. One delegate said, “I shall encourage it and contribute to it and do everything to bring it about. Personally, I cannot dress up in feathers and uniform and parade.”
To our knowledge, no one ever did dress up in feathers and parade. However, we have confirmed that a handful of the dress uniforms were made and at least one still exists. It is owned by Colonel Keith Jacobson of San Diego, CA. (shown in photo wearing the uniform at a Kentucky Colonels Derby Extravaganza). Keith found the uniform among the treasurers he inherited from his grandfather who was a collector of uniforms.
We also know that efforts have been made recently to recreate the uniform. Colonel Stephen Lautens, of Toronto, Canada, with our blessings and working with the Custom Uniform Company of Aurora, Colorado has succeeded. Col. Lautens readily admits “I drove the uniform company crazy with the custom order and details”. The material of the uniform is a bit different than what was used 80 plus years ago but otherwise, it is virtually an exact replica of the few original uniforms made in the 1930′s. The cost? Several hundred dollars.
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