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Highland Dress

Discussion in 'General Attire & Accoutrements' started by Edward, Apr 15, 2008.

  1. Highlander

    Highlander A-List Customer


    Kiltie, in my MacGregor Hunting tartan:

    And one in the Royal Stewart:


    Being a McGregor also, with the Mc rather than the Mac
  2. Alexi

    Alexi One of the Regulars

    are you seriously letting 262 year old history dictate what you will wear today? The Black Watch Tartan was not a Campbell tartan to begin with, it was created to designate the Black Watch in 1749, that's way before clan tartans existed and after the Campbells sided with that German gentleman over that Italian gentleman. Hell it's not only used as a campbell tartan but as Hunting Munro, and Hunting Grant. It also forms the basis for the Sutherland, Gordon, Lamont, Forbes, Urquhart, MacRae, MacKenzie, MacLachlan and MacNab.

    I'm fine with the set of the tartan mixing with a tweed jacket. I'm more questioning the cut of wwi/wwii style trews.
  3. Creeping Past

    Creeping Past One Too Many

    Alexi, I think the trad high-waisted fishtail-back tartan trews — is that what you mean? — look great, but they probably won't work with a jacket/loafers combo, in my opinion, unless you've a slim build. Others will almost certainly disagree... :)

    As to the history of the tartan, anyone with even the slightest Scots ancestry finds themselves drawn into this side of things at some stage. I've got over all that identity nonsense, as it's all made up and imaginary, for the most part, as far as I can see — there's little evidence form the past for the gamut of sets that exist today, but them's the historical breaks — but even I'd tend to stick to my clan tartan. As for the historical associations of certain fabrics, I reckon there's few Bostonians who'd take to the streets in a red melton coat, even in the 21st century...
  4. Alexi

    Alexi One of the Regulars

    yeah that's pretty much what I'm getting at, clan tartans don't really have any historical significance. The Black Watch set is known to date to the late 1740's before clan tartans existed, so lots of clans have sets based upon it.

    and the Black Watch is considered a "free tartan". sigh but I'd consider what the black watch did in the world wars to outweigh what it did in the 45.

    Oh and I'm a Stuart, Grant, Tailor & Taylor, Cameron, Colburn (conrnish via scotland) and to many others to name
  5. Alexi

    Alexi One of the Regulars

    oh and I'm on the thin side, I may try it out
  6. gutman

    gutman New in Town

    I like some of your prior posts better than others, and I like all these (barring #6 in the series, boots ok but jacket doesn't work as well). Maybe lose the flat-cap (I like your balmoral), and keep the braveheart sporrans for renaissance-type outfits only (like #2 which is nice).

    Your gear fits very well, and is good quality, and I would suggest getting a good pair of welted sole brown brogues (Loake, Barker, C&J etc) to replace the brown lace-ups you have. They would look great. Your ghillie's look nice.

    IMO, the outfits which work best (yours and others which have been posted) are the "consistent" ones: all traditional, all punk / modern, or all renaissance etc. As soon as you start mixing up the elements from each the look gets a bit cluttered, muddled, too middle-of-the-road, and not quite right.

    Anyway, keep up the good work!!!
  7. Panache

    Panache A-List Customer


    That Inverness Cape was made by a dear friend of mine. When he found that it was too big for his build he sold it to me for the cost of materials. I treasure it.


    Actually full mask sporrans like my raccoon are very traditional and can be worn with day wear and formal wear.

    Just for fun here is another outfit I like a lot for an evening out


    It's nice to know there are a few other kilties among my fellow loungers.

    Highland attire is interesting as many of the conventions in the cuts of the jackets, waistcoats, and accessories are unchanged since the 30's and 40's.


  8. Nice stroller(?). The length of that jacket does work with the trews. More particularly, though, I note the shoes - I'd never have thought of pairing brown shoes with a black jacket, but that particular tartan ties them together remarkably well.

    I know exactly what you mean about the trousers being more practical, I'll certainly be acquiring a pair after I have the kilt. Also, the torusers would be much easier to carry off with one of those beautiful 30s and 40s djs I see on sale all the time, but pass on as I don't fancy the nightmare of trying to find trousers that match just the right shade of black.... :idea:

    lol To a degree - it's more a sense of having fun with a very dark episode of history than anything, I think - assuming that gross oversimplification doesn't make it sound too callous, especially for somebody who probably has ancestors who died for some foreigner's claim to the throne of their country!

    Yip ,and the poor Scots got exploited by both sides for their own ends. That's the biggest tragedy of Culloden, in my mind - none of them, on either side, died in the most brutal way for anything that was truly in their own interests. Then, of course, the Highland Clearances that followed were as much carried out by fellow Scots as English.... Something there about the human psyche - I have read that the most enthusiastic members of the SS were very often found in units formed from natives of whatever territories Nazi Germany had successfully invaded. I'm sure that's the case in a lot of conflicts - it'd be interesting to see some anthropoligical / psychological research into that. However, I'm digressing :eek:fftopic:.

    It is appreciably ironic that tartans can rouse such passions when they are really just a much later invention - and, worse, to a fair degree an Anglo-Scots invention.... lol Maybe we can see it as something being given back to the Highlanders (and associated lowlanders, as wre my ancestors), after the kilt, bagpipes, etc were forbidden for so long.


    I think this is a big part of what fascinates me too. There are, as you know, occasional attempts to bring in something "modern", either in the cut of the jacket, or in new takes on the kilt like the "Utilikilt" (these, incidently, remind me of nothing so much as the khaki drill kilt-cover that was issued to some Scots regiments in WW2). For the most part, though, the traditional cuts and designs have remained unchanged for a very long time. Unlike a lounge suit, or even a DJ and trousers, it is very easy indeed to go out and buy the full Highland regalia in a cut virtually indistinguishable from vintage originals. I wonder whether such, for want of a better word, conservatism is inevitable when considering a mode of dress which is all about preserving a tradition (whether real or invented).
  9. Panache

    Panache A-List Customer


    I first realized this when I watched the movie "I know where I'm Going"


    Released in 1947, it is set during World War II, but Roger Livesey's day-wear outfit looks exactly like what one would wear as modern highland day-wear.

    (It's a charming movie and well worth watching by the way)


  10. Scotus

    Scotus One of the Regulars

    Many clan tartans date back at LEAST to the time of George IV, when many clans; e.g., Drummond, adopted a tartan for his visit to Edinburgh. I would think that would now be considered "historical." A lot of history has passed since 1822, at least as I see it. :) Other tartans date early than that, of course.
  11. Scotus

    Scotus One of the Regulars


    Your look, as always, is spot on. Good to see you spreading the dignity of traditional Scottish attire here. :)
  12. Check out my local "modern" kilt maker:

  13. High Pockets

    High Pockets Practically Family

    :) Highlander, I do like that tartan;

    Modern hunting MacGregor was the tartan selected by one of the bands I played with.
  14. Panache

    Panache A-List Customer

    RKilts are a contemporary Kilt company

    I have one of Robert Pel's braided sporran straps and my son has one of his sporrans. I have had the pleasure of talking to Robert on SKYPE often and consider him a friend. I hope someday to meet him in person.

    I have a Nestle Chocolates tin that is my "kilt fund" that I throw my spare change into. Currently I am saving for one of his custom sporrans.

    He does great work


  15. I love all the pics shared, everyone is so handsome, I've alway had a facination for Highland dress and tartans. :)

    I think this is true for any/most traditional clothes. My belief is that such clothes withstand the test of time because they devoloped over a very long period, defined and refined through daily needs and life of the particular group of people, rather than devoloped for attracting attention and increasing the sales volume. Even if some of the trappings seem fancy, there are always inevidable and very clever reasons behind these trappings. They are beautiful because they were/are an integral part of the daily lives and heritage of the people who inherit them. In fact it's uncanny that even if a person has never worn the traditional clothes they have claim to, even if it's the first time they don them, they look as if they've been wearing them daily throughout their lives.

    The more our lives become globalized and industries cut corners in production for mass manufacture and cost efficiency, we tend to lose our traditional clothes because they take more time and craftsmanship to produce, and so are expensive compared to those off the rack track suits. However, these traditional clothes are made to last, and it will be a pity if all the arts and crafts involved in producing those beautiful clothes are lost. I hope all societies that have claim to such lovely traditional clothes make the effort needed to keep their ability to produce them.
    -30- likes this.
  16. Ahsan

    Ahsan New in Town

    you can check https://scottishkiltshop.com
    Edward likes this.
  17. I would agree, tough there are still some purists of course who argue that the kilt and Highland dress as e now know it is a Vicotian, Aglo-Scottish invention... The original, true Highland wear was banned (including the kilt and the bagpipes) following the brutal Highalnd 'Clearances' that followed the death of the Jacobite rising at Culloden moore in 1746. The Dress Act 1746 was in force for 35 odd years; then gradually it was readopted - freed from the political symbolism of Jacobism and the Highlanders - as a general Scottish garment. Most of the accoutrements and specific designs now rally date to the Victorian era, though elements of them are nods to an earlier tradition. For instance, when the most formal version is worn, the scarf / shawl type 'plaid' worn over one shoulder reflects the top half of the original Great Kilt, which would have been a single garment with the bottom half. I'd quite like to have a great kilt sometime!

    The interesting thing I've noticed - and I've seen it in a range of cultures - is how even outside of specifically religious dress, it is always - or, at least, so it seems - the men who adopt the globalised lounge sut and "western" way of dressing long before the ladies do. I wonder is that a commercial factor - men, for so many years, having been the dominant ones in the global business world?

    I do like to see traditional dress from all cultures. There are elements I'd love to adopt: I've toyed with the idea of some hakama pants to wear round the house in hot Summer weather, though I don't know that I'd wear them outside for fear o misinterpretation.
  18. The sewn pleat garment we recognize today as kilt a didn't exist until the ~1780s. The oldest surviving examples are regimental kilts from around the 1790s. Related to that point, clan-representative sets and "traditional" highland dress are absolutely Victorian inventions, with two caveats. Certain types of sets were regionally associated, and thus loosely linked to regions in which a specific clan predominated. Similarly, certain specific sets were adopted by highland regiments of the British Army in the second half of the 18th century, which often recruited members of a specific clan and/or within a specific clan's territory, and thus became uniquely linked with one particular clan comparatively early.
    Edward likes this.
  19. earl

    earl One of the Regulars

    Being of Ulster-Scot heritage, (family came to N. America from Drumnagee, County Antrim but have no idea from where in Scotland we hailed), was so taken by the Scottish part of the family history I had thought of getting a clan kilt. But, given the only time I'd wear it was when I went to the local Scottish festival which is sadly no more, didn't think it made sense. So, settled on a tartan tie. The tartan thing was just a way to connect to my Scottish roots, though also embrace the Irish part as well. Frankly, though, never felt the pull of joining a clan association as to me, even if your surname is identical to the clan name, unless you descend form the family line from which the clan springs, it doesn't appeal to me and my surname was merely a sept at that.
    Edward likes this.
  20. Hi, a recent Fedora Lounge lurker and now new member here.

    I've been wearing Highland Dress for over 40 years.

    I have a longer view, perhaps, than most kiltwearers due to having and studying a large number of books on Highland Dress and tartan including a collection of vintage Highland Dress catalogues from the 1920s through 1950s and a very large collection of vintage photos of gents in Highland Dress.

    The charge or claim is often made that our "traditional Highland Dress" is a Victorian invention. A few years ago, in response to someone who vehemently took this stand, in a detailed response I demonstrated that every element of what we now consider "traditional Highland Dress" existed prior to Queen Victoria taking the throne in 1837.

    What did become clear to me, and I've never seen anyone but myself address it, is that Traditional Civilian Highland Dress underwent a near-total transformation in the early years of the 20th century. At around the same time an entire suite of new sporran styles (or, rather, numerous variants of a single new type) and a number of new jacket styles emerged.

    Also Highland Dress suddenly became much more systematised or compartmentalised, as TCHD sorted itself into two quite distinct categories, each with its dedicated footwear, sporran, shirt, necktie, and jacket. These were called Day Dress (or Outdoor Dress) and Evening Dress.

    While it wasn't quite "anything goes" in the 19th century, for sure Victorian Highland Dress was much less orderly, and one often sees formal shoes, hose, and sporrans worn with Day tweed jackets, elaborate Evening Dress including quite plain jackets, and so forth.

    The fact that new sporran and jacket styles emerged at the beginning of the 20th century, sweeping the old styles away, creates something of a wall or barrier that clearly divides pre-c1900 TCHD from post-c1900 TCHD.

    Due to this not being widely understood, one invariably sees anachronistic Highland Dress at Renaissance Faires, Dickens Balls, American Civil War Balls, Victorian Balls, Steampunk costumes, etc. One simply couldn't wear a sporran style invented in 1910 in 1840, or 1861, or 1880.

    Since that c1900-1910 near-total transformation of TCHD it has remained largely unchanged. Punctuated Equilibrium one might say! A gent could show up dressed entirely as he would at a 1920 Highland event at any Highland event today and not look out of place.

    As a way of introduction here are a couple photos of myself, first the earliest photo I have of me in Evening Dress, taken in the late 1970s. The sporran and jacket were vintage items, the tartan is MacDonald of the Isles Hunting (one of the Allen Brothers designs).


    Here I am in the early 1980s. I normally wouldn't be wearing a tartan tie with Highland Dress, this was a publicity shot and they wanted a tartan tie. The jacket is a vintage one dating to 1946, heavy Harris Tweed. The tartan is MacDonald (House Of Edgar Muted Range).


    Here in the mid-1980s my full military-style piper's costume. The tartan is British Columbia, the pipes are by Glen, Edinburgh, c1860.


    And here I am nowadays. (The ghillies are the same pair seen in the 1980s photos above, and I got that bonnet in the 1980s too.) The jacket is a vintage one off Ebay, the pipes are by RG Lawrie, Glasgow, c1900. The tartan is Isle Of Skye.

    Last edited: Nov 29, 2017
    Wolf99 and Edward like this.

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