Simple answer: Wear the tartan(s) you have a connection with. Most tartans are clan tartans and each clan is associated with multiple last names. Use our tool to see which clans your family is connected with, and choose whichever tartan you like best. There are three types of tartan associations: (1) Clan/related family, (2) Organizational, and (3) Regional tartans. Each of the 200+ Scottish clans have multiple tartans. For example, a clan may have a modern tartan, an ancient tartan, a tartan for formal occasions, another for hunting, or a tartan that is woven in more muted (weathered) colors. Additionally, all of these different tartans can be woven in heavy (16 oz) medium (13 oz) and light (11oz) weight fabric. Most kilts are made using heavy (16 oz) weight fabric. “Whats My Tartan” presents you with each one of those tartans and in each weight available, as options. With this information, you are familiar enough with tartans to search our database of Scottish and Irish tartans to find your family’s or clan’s tartan. For a more in depth answer, check out our blog post on which tartan you should wear.
We recommend a kilt for all kinds of occasions--even yoga. That is because kilt outfits can be worn very casually or very formally. Many people celebrate their positive heritage by wearing kilts at weddings, funerals, Scottish Highland Games (throughout the year), Hogmanay (New Years Eve), Robert Burns dinners (late January), Saint Patrick’s Day (in mid-March) and so forth. For a map of kilt events in the USA, see our Kilt Events page. People comfortable wearing kilts sometimes wear their heritage to church and even to daily work. If you’re uncomfortable wearing kilts daily, perhaps a few more times watching “Braveheart” would help.
Traditional kilts are made using heavy (16 oz) weight fabric, but utility kilts are sometimes made with lighter weight tartans and different fabrics, like denim. For a more in depth answer, check out our blog post on which tartan you should wear.
Regarding ancient, modern, and weathered tartans, sometimes the whole thread pattern changes, and sometimes only the thread colors change, like to more muted or pastel colors. Ancient dyes are supposed to more closely represent what the tartan would have looked like before more colorful wool dyes were widely available, but currently most clans recognize the modern tartan as the official tartan. For a more in depth answer, check out our blog post on which tartan you should wear.
People wear tartans such as Black Watch or Royal Stewart all the time without having a family connection to those tartans. While Scottish purists may object to this practice, feel free to wear whatever tartan you have an affinity for or feel a connection to. If you really like the Isle of Skye tartan, you can wear it, on the condition that you add visiting the Isle of Skye to your “bucket list”. Also, as you learn more about family history, you may find connections to clans that traditionally come from the Isle of Skye.
The most common Scottish celebrations throughout the year are Scottish Highland Games at various times and locations throughout the USA, Canada, and Scotland. The most prominent Scottish celebration is the Robert Burns dinners (late January) during which people celebrate the life and work of Scotland’s most prominent poet. Most other celebrations also have a Scottish counterpart such as New Year’s Eve which the Scottish call Hogmanay. For a map of events to which any people wear kilts, see our Kilt Events page.
Tartan patterns are registered patterns, with specific colored thread counts.From a non-Scottish perspective, plaids are any checkerboard, interwoven pattern. In the USA, people often refer to “plaid pajamas, shirts, skirts, and so forth…”, but traditionally a plaid is a long piece of tartan patterned fabric worn over the shoulder.
“16 ounces (oz)” refers to the weight of one square meter of the fabric. Most Scottish traditional kilts are made of heavy 16oz fabric. However, many weaving mills weave lighter fabrics, like 13 ounce and 11 ounce fabrics for lighter, cooler needs. For a more in depth answer, check out our blog post on which tartan you should wear.
Real wool fabric is made from the hairy coats of sheep. Acrylic fibers are synthetic fibers made from the polymer polyacrylonitrile. Fabric made from light weight (less than 13 oz.) acrylic fibers sometimes has problems with tiny little balls of thread forming where the fabric has friction sometimes called “pilling”). On the other hand, moths love to eat wool, but will not eat acrylic. There are many pros and cons to both fabrics. Wool and acrylic receive dye and reflect light differently, and feel, fold, and wrinkle differently. Wool tends to be more pastel and muted. Heavy acrylic can last forever. For a more in depth answer, read our post on the difference between acrylic and wool.
We understand that incorporating kilts into a wedding may seem like a hurdle to having a coherent color palette at the wedding, but What’s My Tartan can help you find the perfect tartan for your wedding’s color palette. There are also no rules when it comes to kilts at weddings. Commonly, the groom wears one tartan and all the groomsmen either match that tartan or all wear another tartan with complementary colors. For example, the groom may wear an Isle of Skye kilt and the groomsmen may all wear Irvine Ancient to create a color palette of green, lavender, and blue (see image below).
At Scottish Highland games there are usually Highland athletic competitions like caber (a small telephone pole) tossing and so forth, highland dancing competitions, pipe band competitions, solo piping competitions, maybe some Scottish country dancing, and Scottish vendors selling food and Scottish, English, and Irish related products. For a map of Scottish Highland Games in the USA, see our Kilt Events page.
Renaissance festivals are less about authentic costumes for a certain time period or place and more about participating in an engaging, live display of human history. In that sense, kilts were very commonly worn throughout various historical time periods. In addition to the Celtic groups who are known for their near continuous use of kilts for the past centuries, many Roman infantry units wore kilts 2000 years ago. Also, British royalty have been wearing kilts for nearly 200 years- a tradition that continues to this day. For a map of renaissance festivals in the USA, see our Kilt Events page.
Many sci-fi and historic characters wear kilts, and the cosplayers love to imitate and dress up as these characters. Who wouldn’t love to channel the Braveheart, Outlander, or Highlander vibe?
Short Answer: Wear a kilt proudly and handsomely. Long technical answer: Begin by extending the kilt outward behind you, centering the sweat panel on your fanny, with the sweat panel facing inwards and the pleats facing outward behind you. A man’s kilt will have a belt hole on the left side. Wrap the right side of the kilt across your belly, and insert the right side belt into the hole on the left and select the buckle hole that makes for your best fit. Then wrap the left side of the kilt across your belly, on top the first layer of kilt that you just wrapped and buckled, and insert the left belt(s) into the right buckle(s) and select the buckle hole that makes for your best fit. The unpleated apron should be centered in front, the pleats should be centered in the back. Traditionally, the bottom of the kilt should be near the top of the knee. The top of the kilt is typically at, or a little above, the belly button. There are typically three to four belt loops for a belt, and the sporran is typically worn a hand’s width below the bottom of the belt. For a more in depth answer, see our full blog post on how to wear a kilt.