Military fashion very often influences civilian clothing. Even today, camouflage fabric, trousers with many pockets, and combat boots are trendy and popular. Though, they were invented for military needs. In the 18th century, similar thing happened with a tricorn hat. What other 18th-century clothing articles came from the military? And what fashion trends were military-inspired? Richard Shortlidge, a historical reenactor, will tell us about his costume – the costume of 1740s Spanish private. By the way, a private is a soldier of the lowest military rank.
This is the costume of Ricardo Sanchez Solana, just an ordinary private. Let me tell you a little bit about what I'm wearing.
Let's just start here with the hat. Very often, people assume that the tricorn hat is a pirate hat. This, actually, is the “baseball cap” of the colonial period. It started out as a military hat, and the reason it has 3 sides is that when a soldier went to fire his gun, the lock was close to the hat and the side of a round hat would be burnt. So they began by cocking the right side of the hat. And then, when they started doing military drills and the soldiers were marching, they had to carry their gun on the left side. With a round hat, it was inconvenient, so they cocked the other side, too.
As I said, it begins as a military hat, but people say, hey, that's cool! And so, everybody – civilians and military – started using the tricorn. Just like a baseball cap today.
Now, this cockade has significance. This is the only part of my uniform that tells you I'm Spanish. Red was used by Spain, black was used by Britain, and white was used by France.
This is a weskit. It's, basically, a short-sleeved coat. The thing that's comparable to it today is the vest that men sometimes wear with their suit.
This shirt is actually my undershirt. This is what I sleep in at night. And that's why in this time period, no decent man would ever go out in public without his weskit. It would be like if you went out today to a public place in your pajamas.
And then, the breeches. These are below-the-knee length. I’ve covered them up with my gaiters, which were actually used when you went out on patrol. The breeches combined with the gaiters eventually became our long pants.
And then, my shoes are buckled, instead of laced or tied. They did have laced shoes as well, but the more common thing would be buckled shoes.