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  1. #1
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    How Many Years in the Switch from Box to Knife Pleat?

    About how many years did the switch from box pleats to knife pleats take in the latter part of the eighteen-hundreds?
    How does this time span compare to other changes in highland kilt attire?
    Thank you.
    I tried to ask my inner curmudgeon before posting, but he sprayed me with the garden hose…
    Yes, I have squirrels in my brain…

  2. #2
    M. A. C. Newsome is offline
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    It was a gradual thing, like all fashion changes.

    The first real documentation I can cite for the use of the side, or knife pleat is when the Gordon Highland regiment began making their kilts this way in 1853. But that doesn't mean that this manner of pleating was invented in that year!

    Nor does it mean that everyone began knife pleating their kilts in 1853, either. In fact, if you look at the famous portraits by Kenneth MacLeay, done in 1865-9, they all show box pleated kilts.

    The Book of the Club of the True Highlander, published in 1880, states that the "newer" form of pleating (i.e. knife pleating) is incorrect, and that kilts should properly be box pleated.

    And let's not forget that up until the amalgamation of the the Highland Regiments, some still wore box pleated kilts, the Seaforth being one prime example. Though doubtless by the time we get to the twentieth century knife pleating was by far the norm.

  3. #3
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    Thanks, Matt.

    From your article, "The Early History of the Kilt," the earliest example of pleats being sewn in as a tailored box pleated kilt is in the 1790s.
    http://www.albanach.org/kilt.html
    I tried to ask my inner curmudgeon before posting, but he sprayed me with the garden hose…
    Yes, I have squirrels in my brain…

  4. #4
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    Bugbear,
    It's a great question you pose. I just received my Newsome box-pleat and it was for the historical nature of the kilt that I chose to own this style of kilt. Yes, I have 8'ish-yd knife pleat. Your question has encouraged me to do some more reading and especially re-read Matt's article.

    Love the box-pleat. It seems balanced, practical, a little more economical and quite comfortable to wear even though in modern times it bucks the trend.

  5. #5
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    Well, from the same article, the belted plaid is known to be in use in the 1590s, and the "phillabeg" is said to have been documented to be in use in the late 1600s.

    There's somewhere around a hundred years, roughly, between each of these changes. I'm only trying to get my head around a rough time line of the changes.
    I tried to ask my inner curmudgeon before posting, but he sprayed me with the garden hose…
    Yes, I have squirrels in my brain…

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by M. A. C. Newsome View Post
    It was a gradual thing, like all fashion changes.

    The first real documentation I can cite for the use of the side, or knife pleat is when the Gordon Highland regiment began making their kilts this way in 1853. But that doesn't mean that this manner of pleating was invented in that year!

    Nor does it mean that everyone began knife pleating their kilts in 1853, either. In fact, if you look at the famous portraits by Kenneth MacLeay, done in 1865-9, they all show box pleated kilts.

    The Book of the Club of the True Highlander, published in 1880, states that the "newer" form of pleating (i.e. knife pleating) is incorrect, and that kilts should properly be box pleated.

    And let's not forget that up until the amalgamation of the the Highland Regiments, some still wore box pleated kilts, the Seaforth being one prime example. Though doubtless by the time we get to the twentieth century knife pleating was by far the norm.
    As Matt says, it was a gradual thing. Bob Martin is with out doubt the expert on the kilt and its development. Unfortunately he doesn't play on the Forum.

    The important thing to realise is that this gradual change involved a change in the style of box pleats first from a balanced box to an unbalanced one, what Bob calls the box-knife, which generally required more cloth 5-6 yards. Although the balanced box pleat can still be seem in some Victorian pictures into the c1860s it probably disappeared in favour of the box-knife at around the same time as the knife pleat began to appear but there would always have been an overlap. This box-knife is what the Seaforths, Argylls etc continued to wear. I'm not sure if the RRS have gone for that style over a knife pleat.

    Short answer to the OP? One has to differentiate between civilian and military dress. I'd say 50-60 years for civilian kilts i.e. by the late C19th most if not all civilian kilts were knife pleated. Some of the military kept it in line with Dress Regulations.

  7. #7
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    Thanks, figheadair.
    I tried to ask my inner curmudgeon before posting, but he sprayed me with the garden hose…
    Yes, I have squirrels in my brain…

  8. #8
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    OK, so why the change, exactly? Is it a kind of evolutionary thing? It can't be for economical reasons. Anyone know? Or, was it merely new trends in fashion set in military styling? Thoughts on this, anyone?

  9. #9
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    Don't know, not a historian.
    I tried to ask my inner curmudgeon before posting, but he sprayed me with the garden hose…
    Yes, I have squirrels in my brain…

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by lukeyrobertson View Post
    OK, so why the change, exactly? Is it a kind of evolutionary thing? It can't be for economical reasons. Anyone know? Or, was it merely new trends in fashion set in military styling? Thoughts on this, anyone?
    I doubt that we will ever know why for certain but I don't think it was started by the military rather they followed the trend. All the earlier examples I've seen that use more cloth have all been civilian kilts.

    I suspect that it was a fashion thing and as will all fashion it followed the trend of the upper classes. It might be that some early-mid 19th century kilt maker used more cloth on an important customer, either to make him seem more important by being able to afford more cloth, or because he/the customer felt the need for more.

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