Weaving the nation : Scottish clothing and textile cultures in the Long Eighteenth century
Tuckett, Sally Jeanne Susan
Clothing and textiles are an important means of communication, providing nuanced signals of economic and social status, occupation, and political affiliation. Consequently the study of clothing and textiles is a valuable approach to the investigation of a past society. Building on current methodological approaches associated with clothing and textile history and the study of material culture, this thesis will investigate how the clothing and textiles of the Scottish population in the long eighteenth century can be interpreted as symbols of wider cultural, social and economic practices. Studies of tartan and Highland dress have dominated the literature on historical Scottish dress and textiles, a result of these items’ intimate connection with modern Scottish identity. This thesis seeks to redress the balance by examining clothing and textiles in both the Highland and Lowland regions, in rural and urban areas, and in the experiences of the elite and non-elite sections of the population. This will be done using multiple and varied sources, including surviving artefacts, portraits, inventories, and contemporary literature. By incorporating quantifiable analysis and qualitative interpretation, this approach complements and adds to existing knowledge of Scottish clothing and textiles. The thesis begins with an examination of the clothing culture, looking at everyday clothing and its use in national, occupational, and political identities. Examination of the textile culture scrutinizes the use of textiles in literature, the economic and ideological approaches to the textile industry, and the practical motivations behind tartan manufacture. The role of ‘fashion’ in Scottish clothing and textile cultures is studied, looking at how outside fashions were received within Scotland, and how Scotland in turn influenced wider fashions. The thesis provides an overview of Scottish dress and textiles in the long eighteenth century demonstrating the importance such investigation can have on the comprehension of the wider social and economic practices of a nation.