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"When did British uniforms get lapels and turnbacks? " Topic

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871 hits since 22 Jun 2016
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP22 Jun 2016 2:44 p.m. PST

So watching Rob Roy, I noticed the redcoats had very "mid 18th century uniforms" But the movie is set in 1713 with the WSS still going on.
Did the uniform change in the weaning days of WSS? Or some time between WSS and WAS?

steamingdave4722 Jun 2016 3:13 p.m. PST

I seem to recall reading somewhere (Chandler perhaps?) that British Marlburian era infantry would loop up the coat tails because of the mud, effectively creating turn-backs. I also think that the Swedes of this time had turn-backs, so I would suggest it possible that British infantry uniforms in 1713 could have had turn-backs. Uniforms in this period were very much at the whim of the colonel, making variations highly likely. As late as the SYW some French regiments still wore their coats without turn-backs.
No thoughts about lapels though.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP22 Jun 2016 3:22 p.m. PST

Let's not forget the origins of turnbacks, collars, cuffs, lapels.
In uniform books about this time, they are referred to as "linings". In other words, the cost was lined with a contrasting material, which was "turned back" to make turnbacks and facings. Later, facings were just scraps of cloth sewed on, while turnbacks were actually turned back.
The change was probably made to save money by the Colonel of the regiment.

dbf167622 Jun 2016 4:52 p.m. PST

They apparently had them by 1735, at least.


rmaker24 Jun 2016 4:29 p.m. PST

So watching Rob Roy, I noticed the redcoats had very "mid 18th century uniforms" But the movie is set in 1713 with the WSS still going on.

What, you're expecting accuracy from Hollywood? They probably pulled 20 year old uniforms from Barry Lyndon out of costume stock.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP25 Jun 2016 1:37 a.m. PST

No they didn't. Green facing. Barry lyndon had white facing.
My question was not so much accuracy but it made wonder WHEN lapels and turnbacks showed up.

Personal logo The Beast Rampant Supporting Member of TMP30 Jan 2017 3:09 p.m. PST

On the matter of lapels, it's hard to find much on the matter before the 1740's. Osprey's "Jacobite Rebellions" (Michael Barthorp) notes that a 1719 footman's uniform in one of the plates was little changed since the WSS.

In Osprey's 'Colonial American Troops' #1, a 1742 illustration from what I assume is a regulation manual pictures Oglethorpe's 42nd Foot dressed as typified at Culloden in 1745. In 'British Guns on the Southern Frontier', Larry Ivers implies that the uniform dates from the regiment's founding in 37'.

I can only assume that continental Brits would not be behind colonials in fashion trends. But that is as close as I can nail it down. I wish I could find out if the fashion started sooner, to know if a WSS uniform would pass for the early-mid 1730's.

Personal logo The Beast Rampant Supporting Member of TMP30 Jan 2017 5:22 p.m. PST

* That would be 'British DRUMS on the Southern Frontier'

seneffe01 Feb 2017 3:28 p.m. PST

Some units- eg the 2nd Foot definitely had lapels from the later 1720s. There is an extant life size recruiting figure from that regiment with lapels still in existence in the NAM collection I think.

As we can see from the 1742 Cloathing Book, almost all regiments had lapels by then.

Re turnbacks- contemp illustrations from the 1715-35 period eg 1st Guards, 2nd, 3rd, 11th Foot all show no turnback, as do several contemp pictures of infantry on campaign in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745-6. However, as others have stated above, the turnbacks of those days were just that- real coat skirts which could be fastened back or left open- according to fashion, regimental taste or field conditions. 1742 is the first date I am aware of which has illustrations of turned back coats.

One uniform difference which does seem to have become more common (if not universal) between the WSS and WAS was the wearing of long gaiters over the shoes and stockings. These were usually white even in the field. The first references I am aware of to dark coloured gaiters (black, grey or brown) date from c1744.

Another difference in appearance which came in quite soon after the WSS was either cutting the soldiers' hair shorter, or sweeping it up under the hat to give the impression of a short hair style. That too makes quite a difference.

On the basis of the VERY limited evidence- I would say that MOST regiments of foot from 1715-1735 looked like this:

full skirted coat
no lapels- although lace on buttonholes and cuffs became common quite quickly
long white gaiters
short hairstyle

This adds up to an awkward mix between early and mid-c18th uniforms. Sorry…..

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