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  1. #1
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    Invited to a 19th century ball

    So my wife's birthday is fast approaching and since the move earlier this summer, we are very near to an American Civil War reenactment happening the same weekend. She has decided that she wants to go to it. With that decision, I called a couple of friends who do that period for advice on possible attire. It seems that they are helping with that one and they landed us a couple of invitations to the military ball. Since we are attending as civilians, I have decided to kilt up. I have a general understanding of highland clothing from that period, but I have a couple of questions. First, would box or kinguessie pleats be appropriate for the period? Would a hair sporran be required, or would my brown and white spotted calf skin do well enough as this isn't intended to be a permanent portrayal? How would a woman incorporate tartan into her formal attire in that era?
    Gloria Patri! Thither Yond! Jeremiah! Do-lang Do-lang! (All things I have shouted in a charge.) http://www.orderoftherouseclan.proboards.com

  2. #2
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    I haven't got a clue as to the answers, but I am looking forward to hearing the answers you get.

  3. #3
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    S. D.

    A good place to start your search would be looking at images of folks in highland dress attending Dickens Fairs. While the Great Dickens Fair we have in the Bay area is set mid range of the Victorian era (just shy of the AmericanCivil War) I bet that they would give you a good starting point.

    For example here is one of me and some of the Red Thistle Dancers at one of our performances at The Great Dickens Fair a few years ago.



    Also there are costume guidelines for Dickens Fairs out there that should have highland dress included

    Hope this was of help

    Cheers

    Jamie
    Last edited by Panache; 9th September 14 at 05:30 PM.
    -See it there, a white plume
    Over the battle - A diamond in the ash
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    Edmond Rostand

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    Here is a link to an old thread that may provide some information. Cheers. http://www.xmarksthescot.com/forum/f...88/index2.html

    And here is another that may give some ideas.
    http://www.xmarksthescot.com/forum/f...wedding-54887/
    Last edited by Downunder Kilt; 9th September 14 at 04:36 PM. Reason: another link
    Shoot straight you bastards. Don't make a mess of it. Harry (Breaker) Harbord Morant - Bushveldt Carbineers

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Didymous View Post
    would box or kinguessie pleats be appropriate for the period? Would a hair sporran be required?
    This is really my bailiwick as people here know all too well... I have hundreds of photos of 19th century kilted civilians.

    First off, the 19th century is a long period! What was worn in 1801 was quite different from what was worn in 1840 and that in turn was quite different from what was worn in 1870. Highland Dress underwent a number of major evolutions during the century.

    By far the easiest period to 'do' is mid-century, say 1860-1870, simply because it is by far the best documented, and this documentation is of course The Highlanders of Scotland. I would peruse the men shown therein and let that be your guide as far as possible.

    You will see that the Highland Dress of that period has certain distinctive features:

    1) long hair sporrans (horsehair and/or goat hair) are worn for all modes of Highland Dress (daytime outdoor dress, evening dress, and military uniform). It's rather rare to see small sporrans at that time, and when you do see them they're usually the wildcat sporrans (a fine original was up on Ebay not long ago). No sporrans resembling our modern "day dress" and "evening dress" sporrans existed.

    2) jackets of course followed current 'saxon' fashion as regard lapels etc and tended to be quite plain, usually lacking the Argyll cuffs and the epaulettes now expected on Highland jackets. In other words an ordinary black 'sack coat' from the period would sometimes have been seen with the most elaborate Highland Evening Dress imaginable (sword, pistols, dirk, crossbelt, etc).

    3) footwear was quite variable and ghillies (usually brown) and Mary Janes and ordinary shoes were all commonly worn with various modes of dress; in other words it was not uncommon for Mary Janes to be worn with plain outdoor day dress.

    4) hose are usually diced or tartan, but plain hose in grey and brown/taupe were also common (but no other colours; no white! no black! no blue or green!)

    5) plain glengarries were the most common civilian headdress (avoid dicing).

    For some unknown reason people who are very careful about 'period' dress tend to treat Highland Dress as if it exists in some magical bubble unconnected with the rest of the universe in matters of time and space. People who, when in non-Highland dress, wouldn't dream of mixing up 18th century, 19th century, and 20th century items will do so with Highland Dress. Try to avoid such farbishness. (Sorry but that's my re-enactor self talking!)
    Last edited by OC Richard; 10th September 14 at 07:07 PM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  7. #6
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    If your wife is interested in 19th century ball etiquette, she might enjoy "From the Ballroom to Hell": http://www.amazon.com/From-Ballroom-.../dp/0810109131

    My wife & I used to be in a vintage dance performance group. Ball cards and good manners do have their advantages....

  8. #7
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    OC Richard is spot on. The box pleat/Kingussie pleat had been superceded by the box-knife and early knife pleat (5-6 yards) by the 1860-70 period.

    For ladies, look at portraits of the period and think about a tartan screen (shawl) for contrast.

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  10. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC Richard View Post
    For some unknown reason people who are very careful about 'period' dress tend to treat Highland Dress as if it exists in some magical bubble unconnected with the rest of the universe in matters of time and space. People who, when in non-Highland dress, wouldn't dream of mixing up 18th century, 19th century, and 20th century items will do so with Highland Dress. Try to avoid such farbishness.
    I assure you, My wife and I don't want to be the ones that ruin all of the photos for the evening. That being said, I don't own a sack jacket or a hair sporran. I have a circa 1863 shell jacket that I may try wearing with an appropriate waistcoat that is of a pattern common to the era. I'm looking to get a suitable sporran, but I'm not sure if it will get here in time. I fear that I may end up working with what I have. What I have is the afore mentioned navy blue shell jacket and brown waistcoat, a white shirt, kilt (if I can't get my 6yd. knife pleated kilt done it will be my 8yd. Scottish National), white and red diced hose with red garter ties, my black buckled shoes, belt with plate buckle, Bonnet with badge, calfskin sporran, sgian, dirk, basket hilt, and a black or white cravat (though I would prefer a jabot, it doesn't show up in any of the sources I've found for that period). I fear I may look a bit farby.
    Gloria Patri! Thither Yond! Jeremiah! Do-lang Do-lang! (All things I have shouted in a charge.) http://www.orderoftherouseclan.proboards.com

  11. #9
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    Sounds pretty darn good to me! Shell jackets were of course all the rage in the c1860-1870 period, and they look great with kilts.

    My only reservation is the sporran. I have a black horsehair sporran that's very roomy, and I can probably stick a cantle on it that will look period. If there's time, I wouldn't mind at all loaning it to you.

    To set your 'eye' on what was worn, here's a thread I did a while back... enjoy!

    http://www.xmarksthescot.com/forum/f...cotland-67675/
    Last edited by OC Richard; 10th September 14 at 07:20 PM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  13. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC Richard View Post
    My only reservation is the sporran. I have a black horsehair sporran that's very roomy, and I can probably stick a cantle on it that will look period. If there's time, I wouldn't mind at all loaning it to you.

    To set your 'eye' on what was worn, here's a thread I did a while back... enjoy!

    http://www.xmarksthescot.com/forum/f...cotland-67675/
    That is a VERY kind offer, but I don't feel comfortable borrowing anything given the distance. You're in California an I'm in Ohio. The event is on Oct. 4th and there would probably time for me to get one that I have my eye on if I rush shipping. It isn't top of the line, but it's in my price range. I thank you again.
    Gloria Patri! Thither Yond! Jeremiah! Do-lang Do-lang! (All things I have shouted in a charge.) http://www.orderoftherouseclan.proboards.com

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