Monthly Archives: July 2013

Contemporary Kilt Alternatives

With a spate of recent good weather in the UK, Scotland has been basking in some of the nicest summer weather we’ve enjoyed for a number of years! However, us pasty Scots aren’t too used to temperatures reaching well over 30 degrees Celsius, and so we’ve naturally been trying to stay cool however possible! When the mercury climbs skywards a full, traditional kilt, combined with the other thick or woollen products Scotland is famed for, are simply not comfortable for most people to wear. So today we’ll make a few suggestions for ways to maintain a touch of Scottish flair in your outfits while remaining cool and comfortable – fully prepared to take advantage of the great summer we’re having!

Gents 5 Yard Kilt, MacKenzieFirst of all of course we must consider the myth that it is not possible to wear a kilt at all during hot weather; with made-to-order kilts there can be adaptations to make this traditional garment a comfortable option no matter what the weather! Although most men will only have one main kilt, usually 8 yards and 16oz wool to ensure suitability for formal events and a long life span, 5 yard kilts are also popular and, as they use so much less fabric, can be much more comfortable! Additionally, many mills supply a range of fabric weights, so an 11-13oz fabric may be chosen for a lighter, cooler experience. And of course kilts have their own “built in air conditioning” so even a slight breeze on a hot day can cool you down quite effectively! In stock casual kilts are also often available in 5 yard options, though the man-made fibres which these kilts are composed of are not as naturally breathable as wool, so it will vary from person to person how comfortable these feel.

Read about tartan spirit through everyday productsTartan Trousers, MacKenzie

However, other times we might simply want to wear something a little bit different from usual. Tartan trousers can be a great way to change up your Scottish outfit, and are highly appropriate for golfing attire of course! Available in as many tartan choices as kilts nowadays, you can even find specially styled tartan trews (as they are known in Scotland) which are able to be worn with kilt jackets such as the Prince Charlie, for formal events such as weddings. For gents’ casual wear, cool T-Shirts and polo shirts are great ways to display your Scottish pride, and are available in a massive range of colours and styles, ensuring you don’t need to worry about bumping into an identically dressed neighbour at your next Highland Games! And of course, a stylish baseball cap is a must have to finish off your outfit on a sweltering day, with golfing, rugby, and other designs proving popular.

Tartan Toe Post Flip Flop, Stewart RoyalThe ladies have it much easier in terms of Scottish clothing during the hot months, as the ideas for Highlandwear are already much less restrictive for them. With a broad range of tartans now available in light and airy dupion silk, it is also much easier to continue wearing formal dresses and sashes to special events. But it’s not only special dresses which are a great choice for ladies this summer; tartan flipflops are perfect for taking on holiday, and tartan handbags are available in more patterns and styles than ever before, with fashionable options such as satchel-style bags being an ideal touch to finish an otherwise mundane outfit. And with kilt makers expanding their ranges to include such garments as tartan mini-skirts and hotpants itLadies Wool Tartan Handbag, Stud Fastener, Bruce of Kinnaird is easy to beat the heat and remain true to your roots!

Learn about international and occasional tartans

Finally, for children, Scottish T-shirts are again a popular choice, and Saltire or Lion Rampant beach towels will be essential for the beach, though what they might thank you for the most could be a new Nessie soft toy or Scottish style toy shield and sword set!

Don’t forget also to stock up on postcards and souvenirs if you are a visitor to our bonny country this summer, and create memories of a lifetime in the land of kilts this year!

Prince Charlie – Scottish icon and a tragic hero

Prince CharlieThe story of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his midnight flit from the shores of his beloved Scotland is almost a thing of myth, and certainly legend, nowadays – after centuries of romantic embellishment by his friends and enemies alike! Today we’ll look at the historic events leading to the famous exile of the Bonnie Prince, and the effects of his actions which have reverberated through time to still be remembered among all Scots today.

Read the story of St. Andrew

The Young Pretender captured the imaginations of the Scottish people when he attempted to lead them in rebellion against the English, to gain what he saw as his own rightful place upon the British throne. Despite being born and raised in Rome, spending only one full year in Scotland during which he led thousands of men to their deaths, and then escaping once again to Europe, where he lived out the rest of his life in exile, Bonnie Prince Charlie has gone in history as a Scottish icon – so much so that even the ubiquitous formal kilt jacket is named for him, the Prince Charlie!

Learn more about Robert BurnsPrince Charlie Jacket

Born in 1720, the son of James Francis Edward Stuart and grandson of James II of England, Charles Edward Stuart was a very charismatic and handsome young man, who fervently believed (as did his father and grandfather before him) that his rightful place was as the ruler of Britain. In 1744, under the guidance of his father – who had obtained the support of the French government for a planned invasion of Britain – Charles Edward went to France to assume command of their forces. However, poor weather conditions, and the mustering of a powerful British fleet to oppose the invaders, led to cancellation of the plan by the French.

The Jacobite cause was still supported by many Highland clans, and Charles hoped for a warm welcome from these clans to start a rebellion by Jacobites throughout Britain, but there was no immediate response. Undaunted, Charles raised his father’s standard at Glenfinnan and attracted pledges of support from many of the Jacobite Highland clans, though others stayed loyal to the Hanoverian crown. With his new found allies, Charles marched on the city of Edinburgh, which quickly surrendered to his forces. On 21 September 1745 he fought and won the Battle of Prestonpans, defeating the only “official” army in Scotland, and by November waThe Battle of Cullodens marching south for London as the leader of around 6,000 men. Having secured the border town of Carlisle, Charles’ army progressed as far as Derby, in the Midlands of England. Here, despite the Prince’s strong objections, the decision was taken by his council to return the army to Scotland, in part due to the lack of the support from English Jacobites that Charles had expected, but also due to growing rumours of a massive English force being sent to smash the rebellion. By now Charles Edward was being pursued by King George II’s son, the Duke of Cumberland, who finally caught him at the Battle of Culloden, the last hand-to-hand battle fought on British soil, on 16 April 1746.

At Culloden the Jacobite forces were almost entirely massacred. Charles had no militaryCulloden Monument experience, and ignored the advice of his commander, choosing to fight on open marshy land. With the Jacobite soldiers charging directly into the muskets and cannon of Cumberland’s army, and Cumberland pursuing and hunting down the fleeing survivors, the result was a catastrophe for the Highlanders which ultimately led to the banning of the wearing of kilts and eventually the highland clearances and scattering of the clans. This massive defeat has sent echoes down through the ages; “The ‘45” is still referred to in Scotland to this very day, and the battlefield has been preserved with memorial stones for all the clans who lost men during the battle.

Charles disbanded his surviving troops and went into hiding. Hunted as a fugitive for more than five months this time was fraught with danger for him, but the Highlanders never betrayed him, and he escaped to France in September 1746. This flight to safety has been immortalised in songs and stories, such as ‘The Skye Boat Song’, and is the most famous part of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s legacy to many Scots today. With the Hanoverian loyalists keeping a keen eye out for the rebel prince, he was forced to allow himself to be smuggled out of Scotland on a humble fishing boat, disguised as the Irish maid of Flora MacDonald. The plot was discovered too late and Charles Edward escaped safely, Flora however was punished with imprisonment in the Tower of London for her part in helping him, but bore up stoically, and always stated that she acted from a sense of Christian charity and would have helped him in his defeat regardless of her own political leanings.

Read about the Picts

Prince Charlie as an old manTwo years later Charles Edward was expelled from France as part of an agreement with the English to drive all Stuarts from the country as a show of faith in the recent French-English peace brokering, and that this point his effects on Scottish history recede once more. For a number of years Charles Edward drifted around Europe, still hoping to win support for his cause, even visiting London secretly in 1750 and 1754. After the death of his father in 1766, The Young Pretender finally returned to Italy, where he spent his final years, dying in Rome on 31 January 1788. But for a year, as a young man, he captured the heart of a rebel nation and became a tragic hero; his struggles and failures romanticised and carried down through the generations, leaving a legacy no Scot can forget!