Traditional Scottish clothing is great – and the kilt can certainly be worn in many situations – however it is definitely more associated with special occasions so many Scottish men and women nowadays may not frequently wear or use anything particularly related to their proud heritage on a day-to-day basis. Today we hope to dispel the myth that Scottish accessories and Highland wear must be staid and boring, and introduce you to some great, fun and modern products which can be incorporated into any proud Scots’ life!
First of all, I’m sure everyone is looking forward to the summer holidays approaching soon, and perhaps going for a trip far from home; so why not let your fellow travellers know your origins and liven up your suitcase a little with this great kilt luggage tag, a whimsical and fun way to declare your Scottish roots (and make sure you don’t lose your suitcase)! Of course, after reaching the hotel, you’ll want to relax by the pool or hit the beach, and this will be the perfect time to take out your Scottish Saltire beach towel, to ensure maximum comfort and Scottish satisfaction when soaking up the sunshine all too often missing from normal life in Scotland! These will be a perfect way to strike up conversation with other Scots visiting your holiday location, or even attract attention from others who have heard of the legendary Scottish friendliness, we are popular worldwide after all!
However, even the best holiday must come to an end at some point, and how do you keep up your Scottish pride when back to normal working life? Perhaps particularly suitable for ex-pats, or those of Scottish heritage, why not take in some Loch Ness Monster themed pensas a fun addition to your desk. And of course, a Celtic photo frame featuring a photo of you in your best kilt, sporran and Prince Charlie, or a top a Munro with your family, or even exploring the many pubs of Edinburgh’s Rose Street with your friends, will be a must have!
One of the most prevalent aspects of modern life is our reliance on technology, but even in this digital era Scottish traditionalism doesn’t fail us! New iPad and Kindle cases (iPad, iPad Mini, Kindle) are the perfect way to keep your precious gadgets safe when on the go, and being available in almost any imaginable tartan ensures you will always have a way to display the tartan which is most meaningful to you, from clan, district, military and commemorative designs. Oh, and while you’re out and about, don’t forget your clan keyring – a common way for people to carry something of personal interest to them, but in this case not only that, but a beautifully crafted representation of your family bonds.
Finally of course, we can’t forget the Scottish home. A place to retreat and be comfortable at the end of each day, a place to entertain friends, and a place to enjoy family life, it can be so satisfying to add touches of your own personality to your home décor, and as with all other aspects of life, a bit of Scottish flair can easily be incorporated here also. Perhaps a deliciously soft and cosy tartan blanket draped over the back of a sofa ready to be wrapped around a napping child or chilly grownup? Or some intricately etched Mackintosh inspired drinks coasters to keep handy for when sharing a wee dram with your guests? Whatever you select, from teatowels to candle holders, you can be sure that it will help to make your home as welcoming and intriguing as the land of kilts itself – and ensure you always remember the joy and pride you take in your roots!
Hopefully this short article has sparked off your imagination, and you will soon be able to integrate some Scottish aspects into your daily lives, if you don’t already! Let us know your favourite ideas, or if you have any of your own stories about how to live a vibrant, modern life, while ensuring you respect and acknowledge your heritage!
Returning once more to the ever-popular topic of tartan we now consider a few more modern designs, such as tartans which have been created to commemorate special events or raise awareness of a certain topic, and also regional tartans which have been adopted in areas with a strong Scottish diaspora community.
When creating a new tartan, the only restrictions on design are that it must not copy a tartan which already exists, in name, design, or intention. Therefore many designs have been registered which reference a wide number of concepts such as love and loyalty, or Scottish symbols such as the lion rampant, stag, or thistle. There are tartans celebrating whiskey, haggis, even Irn Bru and shortbread! Many of these are of course corporate tartans, designed and registered to promote a certain product or company. However others are registered as so-called “fashion” tartans, and though only one mill may have permission to weave the fabric, it can be sold to anyone for private use in garments and other textile goods.
One such new design is the World Peace Tartan, a beautiful blue and purple design which is very contemporary and which has been growing in popularity for the last few years thanks to its versatility for male and female wearers, and for its positive and hopeful message. The World Peace Tartan was created to promote a global message of peace, and the striking light blue in the design is representative of the presence, hope and potential of the United Nations organisation. The role Scotland plays in promoting world peace is represented through the Scottish thistle, with lines of purple and green. The red and black in the design have been chosen to remind us of the realities of war and violence, and finally the white running throughout the pattern symbolises peace and light, and reinforces the need for a new culture of peace among humanity.
As we can see from the globally relevant World Peace tartan, not only Scottish concerns are represented in modern tartans, with tartans aimed at the Scottish diaspora becoming more and more attractive and popular, echoing the modern tradition of providing regional tartans for those of Scottish birth but without family tartans. This is also a common practice in Ireland, where family name tartans are unknown and men wishing to wear the kilt, or cilt, will instead choose a tartan affiliated to their county of birth.
Likewise, America, Canada and many other countries with Celtic immigrant populations now have their own national and regional tartans, some of these very popular indeed. The Canadian Maple Leaf tartan for example was designed in 1964 and became so well loved that it was finally adopted as the nation’s official tartan in 2011. With its wonderful shades representing the varying tones of the maple tree’s leaves; green in the spring, gold in the early autumn, red at the first frost, and brown after falling, it is a common choice for Canadian citizens over and above the tartan for each province they could also choose.
By comparison, the United States America tartan is not quite so well-known; however this is unsurprising – as there are so many more United States tartans to choose from! Americans, whether of Scottish extraction or not, can choose from further regional choices celebrating the individual states, to vocational tartans such as the Leatherneck or Seabees designs, which honour the U.S. Marines Corps and the U.S. Navy respectively. Again in these cases, the tartans are not (yet!?) officially recognised by the U.S. military but through very popular usage have come to be strongly associated with it, and it is commonly accepted that only those with a strong connection, either current or ex-service people or their close family who wish to wear the tartan as a mark of respect, should display these tartans. With tartans now registered which celebrate jobs from fire-fighters, to paediatricians, to travel agents, or acknowledge personal interests such as sports and music, there truly is a design for everybody out there and any person interested in tartan and kilt wearing will be sure to find a design that speaks to them and they can feel a connection with, regardless of whether their own heritage if Scottish or not!
With such a wealth to choose from, it can be intimidating to decide which tartan you should settle on when purchasing a kilt or other tartan garment. For most people, a family tartan will be the first and foremost when thinking of investing in an important garment, such as an 8 yard kilt or a tartan wedding dress. However, there will always be opportunities to add a touch of Scottish pride or tartan flair to an outfit even when you don’t want to wear full Highland regalia. For these times a nice tie or waistcoat featuring the regional tartan celebrating your home, or commemorating a special holiday, a college or university tartan remembering your alma mater, or a fun design to show off your interest in a certain football team might be just the thing!
Let us know in the comments if you have found a non-clan tartan that holds a special place in your heart!