Information, Suggestions, and Guidelines for Jacobite
Living History Participants


18th Century Shoes and Footware
Eyeglasses, Watches, Jewelry and Skin Art
Family Tartans and Tartan Material



The Highland clothing of the period was really quite simple for all but those at the top of the Clan structure.  These were mostly people considered poor by the rest of Great Britain, and they made almost everything they wore.  Fabric materials were extensively linen and wool.  Silk and cotton were expensive and less common; some blends were used.  No other fabrics were worn.  This document only provides very basic Highland clothing information.  When assembling your clothing, remember the class and vocation of the person you portray, and climate where they lived. 
There are many ways to come up with what appear to be mid 18th Century shoes. Re-enactment grade period shoes are reasonably priced.  Any moderate sized used clothing store has shoes which can be reworked (with a little imagination) into 18th Century foot wear.  Gillies are very easy to make, many people went barefoot.  Discount stores sell shoes which, with the addition of buckles from a fabric store, can well suffice.  You might even consider covering something you already have.  What is not acceptable are any shoes which clearly look modern: work or hiking boots, Native American moccasins, tennis shoes, fur covered mukluks, or sandals.  Something appropriate is required.  See men’s and women’s clothing for more information.
Many people who needed glasses in the 18th Century could not afford or did not have them.  One possibility if you do not have something close to period glasses is to go without, and develop an accurate portrayal accordingly. Some people who wear glasses at living history events do not have 18th Century frames.  It is understood that people make the best of what they have, any round lense in a metal frame (not bright gold) would be good.  This is something you need to think about if you plan upon portraying the 18th Century very often.  Reproduction frames have become very reasonable in price.   Do not wear inappropriate glasses or sunglasses.
  Most of the Celtic jewelry on the market today is  inappropriate for 1745.  Any jewelry should be appropriate to the time period, and especially to the character you portray.  Very little jewelry was worn.  Remember to remove wristwatches and modern earrings or rings.  Pocket watches were upper class. Except for character appropriate earrings, please remove all pierced body ornamentation.
Tattoos are not appropriate for Highlanders.  This should not be a problem however, because properly dressed men and women would only have the skin exposed on the face and hands (well yes, knees too on men.)  Woad was not being painted on in 1745.
Family tartans, as we know them today, were essentially unheard of in the mid 18th Century.  Some families wore similar colors or patterns, but the “this and only this is your family tartan” phenomenon began in the19th Century.  If you feel strongly about wearing family tartan go ahead, but do not claim it to be such.
Modern family tartan is exorbitantly priced and rarely an appropriate weight for this time period.  Consider wearing a kilt or clothing made from something without a pedigree. You can pick up tartan at fabric stores or bargain bins for as little as $2 a yard.  You will not be nearly as squeamish about the abuse it may take as you are with family tartan at $50 to $100 a yard.  Darker, earth tones are good; remember the colors were dyed from local plants and the garment was sometimes used as camouflage. Brown, green, blue, purple, and rust are common.  Bright reds were expensive and less common. Men are encouraged to wear many different tartans at the same time (coat, waistcoat, kilt, socks all different), as this is the most authentic.

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Copyright 2001 MacFarlanes Company. Revised 3/2003.
Information on this page may be used by non-profit organizations for research and education purposes only, for all other use contact Elliot MacFarlane.
Last updated: 4/17/03
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