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  1. #1
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    Jacobite Kilt Wear Question

    Sorry, I can't seem to correct the title on my phone. It should read, "Jacobite," not "Jacobean."
    Hello,
    As my name suggests, I play the Celtic harp, semi-professionally with every intent to go full-time in a couple of years when I retire from flying rescue helicopters.
    I have been putting together a Jacobean kit for performing as a harper and storyteller at Celtic events. I've played a few festivals with the modern kilt kit, but have wanted to do the historical kit and so piece by piece it's been going to together and it's closer to done than to begun. I've been holding off on the great kilt, as the plaid I have in mind wasn't available when I was last minded to buy and I'm not under any deadline.
    I did recently get the jacket. It fits, it's quality-made including some concealed pockets that surprised me when the tailor just put them in; they certainly will come in handy...and it's way heavier than I thought it would be.
    I can see wearing it in the mornings, but for on stage for 45-minute sets in the afternoon I don't see it working unless I'm playing in outside temperatures that are too cold for anyone to show up.
    And there's the issue of pinning the plaid to it. Since I think I probably have to do the great kilt, as the kit is a well-to-do retainer of a gentleman, I figure I have to pin it to the left shoulder, as the right has the harp laid against it.
    • So, to my questions: would it be scandalous, in the Jacobean period, to remove the heavy, too-hot jacket and just pin the plaid to my waistcoat in the warmer parts of the day?
    • Or, would it be better to unpin in from the jacket, remove the jacket and pin the plaid to itself at the left shoulder, part across my back and part diagonal across the chest?
    • If none of those work, would it be scandalous for a gentleman's retainer to wear the phillabeg instead of the full-boat great kilt? I mean in the painting "Lochaber No More," the only one wearing a full great kilt is the Prince - his men are in phillabeg. Then again, that's a Victorian painting, so I don't know about its accuracy...


    Anyway, your help is appreciated.
    Cheers,
    ~ H.
    Last edited by Harper; 2nd July 17 at 02:00 PM. Reason: Mistitled
    "A heathen concievably,
    but not - I hope - an unenlightened one."
    ~ Lord Summerisle

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Do you mean Jacobean or Jacobite? Not the same thing at all.

  3. #3
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    Sorry, I meant Jacobite and I'll try to go back and correct that. 1745.
    Though it wouldn't have surprised me if you'd figured it out from my reference to Lochaber No More and to The Prince.
    "A heathen concievably,
    but not - I hope - an unenlightened one."
    ~ Lord Summerisle

  4. #4
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    I can do that for you. "Jacobite".
    Rev'd Father Bill White: Retired Parish Priest & Elementary Headmaster, lover of God, people (most of them!) dogs, joy, humour & clarity. Legion Padre, theologian, teacher, philosopher, linguist, dreamer, traditionalist, bon-vivant, encourager of hearts & souls & a firm believer in dignity, decency, & duty. A proud Sinclair.

  5. #5
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    Thanks, Padre!
    "A heathen concievably,
    but not - I hope - an unenlightened one."
    ~ Lord Summerisle

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Of course, you are proposing re-enacting a type of character from the Jacobite period. As there are no kilt police it's not a case of what is or isn't scandalous but a case of doing something with an historical understanding of what might have been done in the first half of the 18th century and being able to explain why if asked.

    There is nothing to say that a coat (jacket) has to be worn with a belted plaid (feileadh mor) and so there is no reason why you could not wear a plaid with a waistcoat or shirt and fastened in whatever way takes your fancy and you find works.

    As you suggest, using a Victorian painting as an historical guide to what was correct a 100 years or so earlier is not ideal, in fact it's pretty useless. Fortunately there are contemporary Jacobite era paintings one can use as a guide; for example, that of Alasdair Ruadh MacDonell in which his servant is shown wearing a feileadh beag. That offers a potential solution to your query.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harper View Post
    Sorry, I can't seem to correct the title on my phone. It should read, "Jacobite," not "Jacobean."
    Hello,
    As my name suggests, I play the Celtic harp, semi-professionally with every intent to go full-time in a couple of years when I retire from flying rescue helicopters.
    I have been putting together a Jacobean kit for performing as a harper and storyteller at Celtic events. I've played a few festivals with the modern kilt kit, but have wanted to do the historical kit and so piece by piece it's been going to together and it's closer to done than to begun. I've been holding off on the great kilt, as the plaid I have in mind wasn't available when I was last minded to buy and I'm not under any deadline.
    I did recently get the jacket. It fits, it's quality-made including some concealed pockets that surprised me when the tailor just put them in; they certainly will come in handy...and it's way heavier than I thought it would be.
    I can see wearing it in the mornings, but for on stage for 45-minute sets in the afternoon I don't see it working unless I'm playing in outside temperatures that are too cold for anyone to show up.
    And there's the issue of pinning the plaid to it. Since I think I probably have to do the great kilt, as the kit is a well-to-do retainer of a gentleman, I figure I have to pin it to the left shoulder, as the right has the harp laid against it.
    • So, to my questions: would it be scandalous, in the Jacobean period, to remove the heavy, too-hot jacket and just pin the plaid to my waistcoat in the warmer parts of the day?
    • Or, would it be better to unpin in from the jacket, remove the jacket and pin the plaid to itself at the left shoulder, part across my back and part diagonal across the chest?
    • If none of those work, would it be scandalous for a gentleman's retainer to wear the phillabeg instead of the full-boat great kilt? I mean in the painting "Lochaber No More," the only one wearing a full great kilt is the Prince - his men are in phillabeg. Then again, that's a Victorian painting, so I don't know about its accuracy...


    Anyway, your help is appreciated.
    Cheers,
    ~ H.

  7. The Following 2 Users say 'Aye' to figheadair For This Useful Post:


  8. #7
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    Proper 18th century trews is a great option unless you want a "kilt."

    As Peter said, a proper, period correct fèileadh beag would be a PERFECT option for comfort and coolness. I highly recommend wearing a belted, unstitched version that is proper to the period.

    Finally, if you really want a full fèileadh, perhaps you could just not wear it pinned up at all. Like two of the chaps here...

    Vestis virum reddit

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  10. #8
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    Victoria, BC, Canada 1123.6536.5321
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    There always seems to be an underlying idea that the kilt is some type of uniform. That is should be worn only one way. That to do anything else would be 'wrong'.

    Well, yes, the kilt can be worn as part of a uniform. If you are in the Military or a pipe band how you wear the kilt and what accessories are worn with it are supposed to give a 'uniform' appearance.

    Otherwise the kilt is fashion. It is clothing and has been worn many ways. The wearers personal style and the fashion norms of the time period are the primary factors.

    Just as in the past, the kilt and accessories are not 'proscribed' to be worn only one way. There has not been in the past, and is not today, a 'right' or 'wrong' way to wear a kilt. As has been stated there are no 'kilt cops'. For just about every example someone can give of one way the kilt has been worn, one of our members can usually give an example of another way it can, and has, been worn.

    But there is almost always one constant. You should be comfortable in your clothes and should want to look good when wearing them.
    Steve Ashton
    www.freedomkilts.com
    Skype (webcam enabled) thewizardofbc
    I wear the kilt because:
    Swish + Swagger = Swoon.

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  12. #9
    Join Date
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    Thank you all very much. Those are very helpful.
    What I was looking for was some reassurance for my own thought that it would be considered okay by the other people of the period for a gentleman's retainer to play the harp outside while not wearing a jacket.
    In the Colonies during the same period a man caught outside with no waistcoat would be assumed to be a laborer or some mad person parading about in his underwear; I was wondering if the same attitude might be held toward a person in Scottish polite society in public with no jacket - just a kilt, shirt and waistcoat.
    Then again, harpers get cut a little slack already and so by your endorsements I'm guessing that it's not out of reach.
    Now it seems all I have to decide is whether to go full belted plaid or feileadh beag. One is more comfortable; the other is more flash on stage.
    Once again, thank you all.

    Cheers,
    ~ Darren
    "A heathen concievably,
    but not - I hope - an unenlightened one."
    ~ Lord Summerisle

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  14. #10
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    The Q is offline Oops, it seems this member needs to update their email address
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    The term "Polite Society" would probably not been used outside of the big houses of the aristocracy and would be seen as a very English / upper class term.

    Polite Society would depend on the date and when and where. During the Tartan restrictions, Then it would have to be a very private affair in the highlands to escape detection.

    Even before the Unification of the Scottish and English crowns, Wearing of the Kilt in Say Edinburgh would have marked you out as an uncouth Highlander and not to be done in polite society.
    this continued Up until the visit of King George IV to Edinburgh.
    If you are intending to imitate, A Highland chiefs Family Musician, for events in the Highlands that is a different matter. However, the chances of "Knowing" what was worn by the musicians are slim. Whilst being a family musician he would have been smart and tidy, maybe with a "uniform" provided to be worn for events, But the musician would not himself been classed as a member of polite society he after all was a working man...
    "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give"
    Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill

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