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  1. #1
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    Escaping the Black Argyll

    I've been increasingly annoyed at being trapped in my black Argyll jacket- you know, black Barathea with square chrome buttons all over- and have been looking for the best way out.

    I was already playing in Pipe Bands in the 1980s when those jackets suddenly became standard, expected, and to all intents and purposes required. At the 1984 World Pipe Band Championships only one top-level band was still competing in Full Dress (they from outside Scotland) the rest wearing Argylls, nearly all black.



    But why trapped in the Black Argyll even for my solo funeral and wedding gigs?

    Part of it, to quote Dr Ian Malcom

    I wear only two colors, black and gray. These are appropriate for any occasion, and go well together should I mistakenly wear gray socks with black trousers. I find it liberating...

    In like manner a piper can wear black to a funeral, wedding, or any other occasion and look appropriate.



    The other matter is that my Black Argyll is lightweight and very comfortable. I do have a tweed Lovat Argyll but the cloth is quite heavy and it's not often cool enough here to wear it.



    So I determined to purchase a lighter-weight tweed jacket. I looked at off-the-peg ones but decided to go the bespoke route. St Kilda (Glasgow) had a wide selection of tweeds, the whole Marton Mills range, at what seemed a reasonable price. You can customise just about any detail regarding the jacket design.

    I sent off for swatches from Marton Mills, who graciously sent them free of charge. (I purchased the Heath Coffee swatch from USA Kilts.)



    And laid against a strip of tweed Hunting Stewart Weathered, the kilt I'll generally be wearing.



    Here are some brown(ish) ones laid against my kilt & sporran.

    L-R 1)Dunlin Coffee 2)Evergreen and Redstart 3)Plover.



    L-R 1)Heath Coffee 2)Heath Bog 3)Plover.



    L-R 1)Barn Owl 2)Multicheck 3)Plover.



    I'm struck by the wonderful neutrality of Plover, which looks different with different things, and which I'm using as sort of a control.

    I think Hunting Stewart Weathered looks exceptionally good with blues. Here are some

    L-R 1)Flint Bog 2)Flint Quarry 3)Lomond (Lochcarron)



    As can be seen there's no bad choices! Each tweed co-ordinates with the tartan in a lovely unique way.

    My band-mates loved Dunlin Coffee, the brown herringbone with overcheck.

    In the end I decided to go with Multicheck. The best colour? No, I don't think so. But I've always wanted a check Argyll, in one of the so-called Gun Club Checks, and this might be my only opportunity to get one. (I'm far too big to wear vintage clothing.)
    Last edited by OC Richard; 20th August 21 at 11:45 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  3. #2
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    Richard,

    Nice choice!

    Anyone can be safe (bland) but you chose bold and exciting

    Can't wait to see it as a jacket

    Cheers

    Jamie
    -See it there, a white plume
    Over the battle - A diamond in the ash
    Of the ultimate combustion-My panache

    Edmond Rostand

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  5. #3
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    It may not have been my first choice for that particular tartan, but I'll confess it is my favorite of your swatches. I think you'll do quite well with that multicheck tweed. I'm excited to see how it turns out, and to hear how you like the jacket for our warm California weather.
    Last edited by KennethSime; 20th August 21 at 10:09 PM.

  6. #4
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    I can well understand that a black Argyll is a tad unimaginative on occasion, but care needs to be taken in your tweed choice. Why?

    You have in your tartan many lines going vertically and horizontally, so adding more to the eye by adding a tweed jacket with more vertical and horizontal lines could have you looking more like a mobile chessboard. Not a good look, so can I suggest the word "subtle" to you?
    Last edited by Jock Scot; 22nd August 21 at 08:23 AM.
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.

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  8. #5
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    I share yor taste and reasoning. Those tweeds have built-in temptation..!

    Have you thought of other solid colour twills of drills? Such as the cloths used for military uniforms - rifle-green and that sort of thing. Doe-skin or Melton cloth is available in various weights and colours.

  9. #6
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    It's remarkable how well all the options look with your kilt.

    And I am also partial to the multi-check design. I love the boldness. It was my intention to get something similar not long ago when I had a jacket made in Hong Kong. But there was a swatch of a different tweed (mossy green with orange and blue overcheck) that my wife got very excited about. And it does look quite sharp with my tartan, so it won out this time.

    But I will definitely have a bold multi-check jacket in the future, and I look forward to seeing how yours comes out.

    Andrew

  10. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jock Scot View Post
    I can well understand that a black Argyll is a tad unimaginative on occasion, but care needs to be taken in your tweed choice. Why?

    You have in your tartan many lines going vertically and horizontally, so adding more to the eye by adding a tweed jacket with more vertical and horizontal lines could have you looking more like a mobile chessboard. Not a good look, so can I suggest the word "subtle" to you?
    Yes I agree with everything you say.

    I was strongly drawn to Plover due to its wonderfully neutral tones, how well it coordinated with not only that Hunting Stewart Weathered kilt but with the other kilts I have.

    Another reason for neutrality/subtlety is when I'm piping at various things- the piper shouldn't stand out too much, hence nearly all pipers using the go-to black Argyll.

    Then there's the mainstream fashion rules which dictate not mixing one plaid with another; in other words only one plaid item is allowed in an ensemble. Modern pipe bands nearly all follow this rule, having the kilt as the only tartan thing in their uniform.

    On the other hand, Highland Dress has never followed that rule, and even in the 20th century modern traditional Highland Dress men might wear a diced bonnet and check jacket with tartan kilt for outdoor dress, or a tartan kilt with non-matching diced hose for evening dress.

    I've always been drawn to the check tweed Argyll. Now is my only chance to have one.

    If money comes my way and I can get a 2nd jacket it will be more plain, probably Plover above, the most subtle tweed swatch I have. Besides, I do have my heavy Lovat Argyll when I want that look.

    It's photos like this which enamoured me to check kilt jackets:

    Last edited by OC Richard; 24th August 21 at 03:32 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  12. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by KennethSime View Post
    It may not have been my first choice for that particular tartan, but I'll confess it is my favorite of your swatches. I think you'll do quite well with that multicheck tweed. I'm excited to see how it turns out, and to hear how you like the jacket for our warm California weather.
    I agree, the overall colour of Multicheck is a pale grey/Lovat blue which wouldn't be my first choice were it a plain tweed.

    About our weather, yes wearing any jacket is challenging, but I have to meet the expectations that go along with the unfortunate "show business" aspect of doing piping gigs.

    All of those tweeds are 14-15 ounce which is considerably lighter than my vintage Lovat Argyll. I don't know what weight it is, but it's a beast.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

  13. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC Richard View Post
    Yes I agree with everything you say.

    I was strongly drawn to Plover due to its wonderfully neutral tones, how well it coordinated with not only that Hunting Stewart Weathered kilt but with the other kilts I have.

    Another reason for neutrality/subtlety is when I'm piping at various things- the piper shouldn't stand out too much, hence nearly all pipers using the go-to black Argyll.

    Then there's the mainstream fashion rules which dictate not mixing one plaid with another; in other words only one plaid item is allowed in an ensemble. Modern pipe bands nearly all follow this rule, having the kilt as the only tartan thing in their uniform.

    On the other hand, Highland Dress has never followed that rule, and even in the 20th century modern traditional Highland Dress men might wear a diced bonnet and check jacket with tartan kilt for outdoor dress, or a tartan kilt with non-matching diced hose for evening dress.

    I've always been drawn to the check tweed Argyll. Now is my only chance to have one.

    If money comes my way and I can get a 2nd jacket it will be more plain, probably Plover above, the most subtle tweed swatch I have. Besides, I do have my heavy Lovat Argyll when I want that look.

    It's photos like this which enamoured me to check kilt jackets:

    I am very familiar with that super tweed in your picture and I still see it about, mainly made into shooting attire. I think the three(?) shades of brown work really well together and as a kilt jacket too, although many might regard it as rather dated, on the other hand for an old fogey like me it is a pleasure to see.

    Where care is needed with choosing a "gun Club" tweed for a kilt jacket with its the multi coloured lines and that may be fine for a sports jacket, suit, or shooting suit , but I have serious doubts about a kilt jacket being made of it.
    Last edited by Jock Scot; 24th August 21 at 03:49 AM.
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.

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  15. #10
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    So many wonderful choices! I will refrain from offering my opinion on which tweed I would select for myself since you are getting plenty of advice already.

    I look forward to following your journey, just as you are following mine!

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