While the idea of doing sport in a kilt might seem mad at first, and in fact it is – at least without some improvements – as doing exercise while wrapped in heavy wool with a kilt pin would be uncomfortable at best and downright dangerous in some situations! But it turns out that there are some crazy people who want to do sports in a truly Scottish way – and there are special kilts for them too!
A sports kilt differs from a traditional one in several ways: firstly, it’s made of lightweight fabric, so it is much more comfortable and easy to wear, and of course you’ll get less sweaty. Usually it is not made of wool – using synthetic fabrics means that you can wash it in the machine without any problems, which would be impossible with a kilt made of real wool. Secondly – they usually feature Velcro fastenings, sometimes with an elastic waistband to make the fit even more adjustable and comfortable for strenuous activity. There are no buckles or straps, but of course you can wear any kilt accessory you want along with it – even a sgian dubh if you find it convenient (and safe). The third thing is how down to Earth and practical these kilts are – they are much cheaper than traditional 5 or 8 yard kilts, so it is far less of a worry if they get dirty or damaged during outdoor sports and other pursuits.
So what to look for to find the perfect sport kilt in terms of both comfort and attractive appearance? We’ve got some tips!
Pay attention to the fabric. Most sport kilts are made of poly-viscose, which ensures that they are light, non-allergenic, and easy to care for. Sometimes however, sport kilts are made of microfiber – if you choose this type you have to be careful while ironing the garment, as too high a temperature will make the fabric melt. Microfiber is also extremely lightweight, so bear in mind that you might have some problems with controlling the material when the wind blows!
Sport kilts are very popular among athletes of Scottish descent, although the Highland dress may cause some problems while doing certain sports, such as running or gymnastic endeavours. Think thoroughly about what activities you want to do while wearing your sports kilt – the athletics, they are best suited for things such as weight-lifting, hiking, or casual team sports such as football. On the other hand, your sports kilt doesn’t have to be limited to the playing field – many men find this garment extremely comfortable as leisure wear, and wear the sport kilt on a daily basis.
Look out for pockets! They say that the kilt without a sporran is called a skirt, but wearing it while doing sports would be pointless or even a hindrance. That’s why sport kilts tend to have several pockets, sometimes one of them in the front at the usual place of the sporran. The placement, style, and number of pockets will differ between kilts, so it’s best to figure out for yourself the ideal configuration for your needs.
A sport kilt might also be an interesting and practical alternative to a casual kilt – with all the pouches and an elastic waistband it could be a perfect choice for a party or a night down the pub. There are various options available – alongside the men’s kilts you will also find kilts for kids, ladies tartan sport dresses etc, so you can be pretty sure that you will find something that will suit your taste and needs. These garments are also usually available in a wide choice of tartans, so it’s likely that you will be able to wear your clan’s colours – though universal tartans are always a good back-up option to keep in mind!
Nevertheless, we wouldn’t recommend it as a replacement for a traditional kilt – wearing such a kilt during official, formal events will be perceived as inappropriate. But if you don’t have any wedding or serious celebrations ahead of you and you’ve never had a kilt before – a sports kilt might be the best purchase possible! As a more comfortable and less pricey version of the traditional Highland outfit, the sport kilt may become your favourite garment for years!
It’s been a while since 2015 started; which means the party has fully begun! We hope that you’re going to have lots of fun this year – same as we plan – and we’d like to encourage you to emphasise your Scottishness every night you can! Don’t worry; you don’t have to wear a full Prince Charlie Outfit with a fly plaid, which would probably ruin the evening for you. The elegant 5-yard and 8-yard kilts aren’t always the best choice either, due to the limited comfort of wearing these traditional but heavy garments. Jackets, waistcoats and formal shirts are also not always required – you can enjoy your Highland charm without any restrictions thanks to the marvellous party kilt, a Scottish innovation growing in popularity.
Don’t think of party kilts as a cheaper version of the traditional ones, the garments are in a completely different class from one another, and their usage is not only a matter of comfort, but also of etiquette – you have to follow some savoir-vivre rules. The party kilt and casual kilt are lighter and more easy-to-wear, and this has some consequences. Firstly, as indicated by the name – they are only appropriate for parties, sporting events and everyday casual wear – but absolutely not for a wedding, or other occasions where formal attire is required. The “light kilts” are made with less fabric of a lighter weight, so as a result give less warmth, the “swing” is less impressive and they also have shallower pleating. Moreover, they are cut more or less at the same waistline of trousers, while traditional kilts raise a couple of inches above the hips. This is the price you have to pay (uh, well, they are financially much cheaper…) for the freedom of cool comfort and movement during the party of your life.
Which to choose? The selection, as you may suspect, is broad. Nevertheless, as these kilts are considered to be a cheaper option, it’s easy to get fooled by a dishonest seller and get a product of poor quality and even poorer finish. Remember – this is still a kilt, not a skirt! And it has to be done properly. You might have also a problem with choosing a tartan – and as the party kilts are usually manufactured only in a limited range of patterns, you may find that your clan tartan is not available. There is a solution to this – choose from the vast array of universal tartans which may be worn by all the people of Scottish descent. The ones that you may consider, among the others, are Black Watch, Jacobite, Scottish National and Pride of Scotland. We especially recommend the Heritage of Scotland and World Peace tartans. Generally Royal and Balmoral Tartans have restrictions and can’t be worn by everyone, but tartans such as Royal Stewart and Earl of St Andrews have no such limitations. There is also a range of so called district tartans which refer to specific districts or cities. They are usually worn by those who want to underline their place of origin, or their local identity.
Read how to make a kilt
Thinking about appropriate accessories? As we mentioned above, a party kilt is not formal attire, so the finish of the outfit should be casual too. Probably the best pick for a Scottish styled top would be a ghillie shirt. Some wear the party kilt along with a simple t-shirt, or even a wool jumper for daytime wear, but as it is a matter of taste, we leave it up to you. More traditional accessories such as casual leather sporrans and tammy hats are also absolutely acceptable. Hose looks perfect, although there are many options and variations that you may consider here – not necessarily the traditional one with flashes. The popular choice of heavy boots and some warm, longer socks might not appeal to everyone aesthetically, but if done with taste can look stylish and “cool” – certainly better than grubby trainers or out-of-place overly formal footwear. As this is the party version, don’t hesitate to try to stand out in the crowd and make some innovations –good taste is your only limit here! Additional accessories such as dirks and sgian dubhs can stay at home – you don’t want to hurt yourself or, even worse, someone else! We also strongly advise to abandon the idea of wearing a fly plaid along with a party or casual kilt. Firstly, it really doesn’t look that nice with informal attire, secondly – it swings, slides and can be very annoying, so if you value comfort it’s better to go to the party without it.
Read about worldwide influences on kilts and tartan
Whatever you choose to wear, the most important thing is to be yourself and to feel comfortable. We wish you all best for 2015, and hope you have a wonderful time at all the parties this year is sure to bring – wear the kilts with pride!
As December approaches, your thoughts surely turn to the every year’s problem – what to give to your loved ones? Even though you might know your best people well, the perfect gift is always a problem – so we’ve decided to help you and come up with some Scottish Christmas Gifts inspirations!
For a spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend
Choosing a keepsake for your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend shouldn’t be an ordeal, but overthinking may be catastrophic. If you’re looking for something for your lass, giving her tea-towels or a tartan fridge magnet playing Scotland the Brave might cause a Christmas break-up (but could be considered a nice thoughtful gift for an elderly aunt you’ve not seen for 20 years).
The classic choice is of course jewelry. There is a broad selection of items to choose from, but if your special lass is Scottish, you should consider something with a Celtic design. Celtic knots are always in fashion! We especially recommend the Scottish-made items, from brands such as Sheila Fleet, Kit Heath, or Ortak, as they guarantee high quality materials and a quirky blend of traditional and modern design, while you can support Scottish-based brands. And your girlfriend will surely be delighted too A nice trinket box will be an excellent addition and makes a great replacement for wrapping paper. If your girl prefers more practical gifts, we suggest something made of cashmere. Sweaters, tops and especially shawls – soft and silky, they will keep her warm even during the coldest winter days.
When you seek a gift for man, the easiest thing is to see if he’s into Scottish history. If he’s a proud member of a Scottish clan, a clan-crested item might put a smile on his face. A dirk or sgian dubh – the traditional weapons – will be nice accessories to wear with his kilt outfit. They’re usually beautifully engraved and finished, so when not hidden in his hose or a scabbard, they will be an original yet charming home decoration element.
If your man owns a Prince Charlie outfit, he’ll surely be bowled over by the gift of a new fly plaid! This element of a Highland Dress always brings attention, and looks fabulous if worn correctly. Remember that it’s suitable only for the most formal occasions.
If your man is proud of his heritage but not really keen on tartans and flashes, there are plenty of other options. A quaich (traditional Scottish drinking bowl) or simply a book on his clan’s history, will certainly make him happy too!
If you think that picking a present for your BFF is easy then you’re wrong! And not because you don’t know what to buy – the selection is so broad that it’s hard to choose just one or even several things. If your friend won’t just tell you straight ahead what he or she wants under the Christmas tree – don’t worry, we’ve got a few ideas. The best gifts are personal – so maybe you should think of printing and framing some photos instead of putting them on Facebook! There is a broad choice of Celtic-themed photo frames, which you can combine with a funny mug (or tankard!) and perhaps a small trinket you know a friend would like and use – a keyring, Celtic compact mirror or a badge.
Giving your loved ones wonderful gifts is always a pleasure, but it’s sometimes preceded by a torturous process of choosing. You may know your closest kin well, but what about this aunt we’ve mentioned before? You should consider something neutral, yet not too impersonal. Gloves, a hat or cap is always a classic (we recommend Lyle and Scott – again, support Scottish brands!), but you can instead choose a patterned pashminas or a traditional tammy hat. When you want to emphasise your heritage, a glass of malt whiskey will always be helpful. A bottle of the Water of Life with some tumblers or a nice engraved flask will please any true Scot. If there are music lovers in your family, a traditional Celtic CD album might be also a good option. If you’re looking just for a small keepsake – we recommend cufflinks, kilt pins or a brooch.
When you’re looking for a gift for the smallest Scots, you might get a little overwhelmed by the choice of items. If you want to pass on the heritage from the earliest years, there are baby kilt outfits! Don’t worry, as they are designed with comfort first and foremost in mind. Every little Scot will look absolutely adorable in a miniature kilt, hose and booties! If you’re looking for something for slightly older children, there are soft tartan teddy bears, but our advice is to get more creative. There are kilt outfits for older boys too of course, but a boy will certainly be the most interested in his own sgian dubh (already blunted, so don’t worry that someone will get hurt). If it comes to girls, a billie kilt skirt or a tartan cape should satisfy every little princess
…and if you left buying the presents for the last moment…
…you may always purchase a gift certificate! The present surely will be perfect
A fly plaid was originally part of the large piece of cloth called The Great Plaid (Féileadh Mòr). The roots of that garment reach Roman times, and the most “archaic” version was the tunic and a cloak (a “brat”) worn by Celtic warriors. Later on, when wool was more accessible, the cloak grew in size (up to 9 yards!) and became gathered up, belted and finally pleated. The additional length made it possible to drape it over a shoulder and use it as a kind of a shawl and hood. It could also be used even as a camping blanket – the size didn’t only indicate the wealth of the wearer, it also enabled multi-functionality. As centuries passed, The Great Plaid eventually lost its practicality, got smaller again and took shape of the small kilt – the fèileadh beag – with the fly plaid evolving into the separate garment that we know today. However, one of the most troubling questions is: when to actually wear it?
The opinions differ. First, you must learn how to wear a fly plaid! It’s not only about draping it correctly and being careful with the pins – you should develop an actual “sense of flying”, as the name of this cloth wasn’t given without a reason. Certainly you wouldn’t like to knock all the glasses from a table with one clumsy move, would you? Let’s just say that wearing a fly plaid requires a certain amount of skill, and you simply have to get used to having it on. Try to practice where to pin it – if it’s not done properly, you’ll be forced to fiddle with it all evening, which is both annoying for you and inelegant. You may use a sizeable pin or run it through an epaulette if you have one to make sure the fly plaid is secured and always in place. You may also try pinning it to the waist or tucking it into the belt at the back to prevent it from whipping around, tangling or becoming a menace to unattended stemware!
The next consideration is the dress code for particular events. One of the most popular comments on this issue is that a fly plaid is suitable for the so called “black/white tie events” – the most formal and elegant ones. A fly plaid is a popular choice to finish off the Scottish outfit at your own wedding – undoubtedly a groom is one of the two most important people on that day and a fly plaid won’t be regarded as over the top. But remember that for daytime weddings it is advised that only the groom can pull this look off – even the best man should wear something more modest. During other events it is advised to be careful – it’s easy to have an “exaggerated” or old-fashioned look. If you’re going to attend some kind of an official celebration, perhaps contacting the organisers with a question about the expected attire would be a wise move. This is the case especially if you are not a central figure during the actual event (coming back to the wedding issues, it would be a serious faux-pas to sartorially outshine the groom). You may hear the opinion that the fly plaid is much too formal by contemporary standards unless royalty or the Nobel Prize Awards is involved, or even that the fly plaid looks a bit like a costume accessory of the idealised Scottish outfit. Regardless of these opinions though, the fly plaid is a well-established part of Highland clothing, and you must judge for yourself the appropriateness of wearing it in any given situation.
Read about the Tartan on the Catwalk
And what is our advice on what not to do with a fly plaid? It certainly is not frequently seen as an everyday garment. If you’re wearing a casual kilt it will look bizarre to pin a large tartan cloth to your shirt, not to mention it will probably be extremely uncomfortable! Remember that casual kilts have been designed to make them easier to wear, they are tailored with less fabric and therefore are lighter – there is no point in ignoring their design and pairing them with inappropriately formal accessories! There is also a dispute over if the fly plaid is acceptable when not kilted, but simply worn as an accessory with trews. Some have given it a try, but others regard it as too extravagant and associate the fly plaid with proper Highland kilt outfits only. There are certainly differences between fly plaid etiquette in the UK and the USA; Americans are likely to wear it to events that Brits would view as too informal for that type of attire.
The discussion over whether to wear a brooch is also lively. As wearing a brooch is very popular in the States, it has grown in popularity in Europe. However, in more traditional circles it is sometimes regarded as suitable only for the ultimate formal occasions, being too flashy to look good at more somber events. The suggested alternative for these cases is to use a plain pin, hidden in the folds of fabric, to secure your plaid, or to simply thread it through your jacket epaulettes and adjust as needed to keep it in place. Sometimes you may also stumble upon the so called day plaid – also known as the Laird’s Plaid – which is simply folded lengthways into a rectangle and slung over the shoulder, without any brooch attached. It also shouldn’t be tucked into anything – just flapping loosely. These are not seen frequently, but are occasionally worn to less formal events where the wearer is playing an important role, such as Highland Games or Clan Gatherings. As is hinted at in the day plaid’s alternative name, these are often worn by Scottish lairds or clan chiefs at these events.
If you like the overall look, but you are not attached to the idea of wearing a fly plaid itself; a day plaid may well be a safer and more versatile option. They are certainly less formal, and a day plaid can be put on along with an everyday Scottish outfit, they are marvelous with a casual or semiformal jacket, such as a tweed argyle!
Read about How To Make A Kilt
To sum up, the best way to decide what to wear and what to avoid, is to ask the organisers or past attendees about acceptable attire and figure out the details of your outfit from there. But, as you might have noticed, everyone has their own idea of what is elegant, so don’t get too bogged down in listening to other people! If you are assured that wearing a fly plaid will not be a breach of good manners, simply make your choice from the available options so you yourself feel attractive, comfortable and confident. There are also various help books covering the issue of fly plaid etiquette – reading one of these might be helpful too. The plaid in all its forms has a rich past in Highland wear, and the potential to set off an outfit beautifully if worn under the right conditions. Elegance, formality and tradition are the key words for wearing a fly plaid – and ones which you should never forget!