What kind of leather? And, for what purpose. Generally for clothing, one will, "wear the hide the way the animal wore it."
With commercial fake brain tan (like the orange stuff from Tandy) people often put that "rule" aside and wear it rough side out because real brain tan doesn't have that smooth, almost shiny, side.
All that skin as worn at the time would have been brain tan, and it’s real hard to soften the skin unless the epidermis, the smooth side is removed. So for a set of skins made from any modren chrome salt to look the most like buckskin it should be smooth side in.
Splitting hides was not yet invented, so big hides that went in to commercial tan back then were thick when they came out. Mostly too thick to wear. Thin garment leather would come off small animals. This is where ‘handle with kid gloves’ comes from the fine gloves were made from kid skin ( goat not street urchins)
Most small communities and many farmers had a tanning pit. And such leather was bark tanned. Bark tanned deer did get done, but seems to have been made in to aprons, gloves, belts and such. Even wealthy gentleman getting ‘doe skin trousers’ would have smoked buckskin. A person living in a small community had cloth clothing.
You could get a set of taylor made skins in most towns big enough to have taylor but these would have been brain tanned buckskin and probibly not having a smooth side
Yup, good advice you got from Nnock and Tenngun there. Buckskins with the smooth shiny side on the inside also aid a little bit in the hide not sticking to you as much in hot weather. Rough side out also just look so much more authentic to me imho.
So, I could possibly see some confusion coming in here. If you have real brain tan, which is at least a little rough on both sides, or you are working with a split hide (like the bison splits from Crazy Crow I've been using for moccasins) you should wear it the way the animal did. If you are using a leather that has one side rough, the flash side, and the other is smooth and shiny, then using it flesh side out will give a more authentic look.
May I ask if your just thinking of puttting an hc outfit together?
Do you have any outfit now?
We think buckskins, and such was worn back in the day. Don’t overlook cloth.
the paintings by Miller show all skins, but the ledgers of the fur companies show all cloth, trousers ,boots, shoes shirts and coats were all sent west by the mule load. Brigham paints westerners almost compleatly in cloth.
Buckskin is a magic material. Cold when it’s cold, hot when it’s hot and kinda of like nose mucus when it’s wet.
Even at twenty dollars a yard for linen and thirty five for wool you can put together an HC outfit a lot cheaper then skins, more color table what ever the weather then skins.
Real brain tan should be worn hair or grain side out and membrane or flesh side in. Dry scraped hides will be suede on both sides. Wet scraped hides may have a smooth surface with pebble grain if not cabled on rough wire or rope or cabled only on flesh side or frame softened with a wood or other stretching tool (think semi sharp axe handle, dull wahintke blade scraper, canoe paddle, etc.). Taking off epidermis but leaving a papillary layer will result in the smooth, easier to clean surface of wet scrape. If the hide does not get wet it can be warm in winter and cool in summer but mountaineers (what mouintain men called themselves) preferred to wear cotton or linen or linsey-woolsie for shirts and leather or brain tan pants and jackets or coats. A pilgrim would wear brain tan in the summer where the sweat could rot and stain the hide. Getting soaked in winter wearing cotton or brain tan instead of wool is an open invitation for hypothermia. Leather was available for clothing early on. Alum tanning or tawing was around well before the rendezvous system and tannic acid leather were made into coats and traded. Tom Tobin's fancy coat was made of leather rather than brain tan and was a reward for his capture of the Espinoza brothers. He was cheated out of the bounty or reward offered and given the coat. Kit Carson supposedly also had a similar coat with cut outs backed in trade wool. If you study the paintings of Alfred Jacob Miller there are cotton or cloth shirts, buckskin pantaloons, no clearly defined evidence of white trappers wearing breechclouts and leggings like the Native Americans in their trapping grounds. Some good brain tan deer runs at 20 dollar per square foot, not as cheap as one hundred per cent linen or not cotton, poly blended wool.