The roots of Highland Wear comes from the Scottish clan system – clan tartans are a great example of showing the contrasting styles of the clans. Each clan, along with their own specific tartans, also have their own clan crest and coat of arms. At Houston’s we can provide the option to customise many items with your own clan crest to make each item special to you and link to the connection with a family name. Great as personalised touches to your kilt outfit
With origins in the clan system of Scotland, a Scottish crest badge is a heraldic badge worn to show allegiance to an individual or membership in a specific Scottish clan.
Clan Crest accessories can be customized with 120+ different family crests – the perfect personalized gift for a loved one, a friend or wear them yourself! From clan Anderson to Wallace, any many names in-between, choose your family’s clan crest for your accessories!
Wall plaques, Cufflinks and tankards are also available with a family crest, which make great gifts!
All our clan crested accessories are made in Scotland by our trusted supplier. As there is a wide range of crests available in some rare occasions it could take up to 6 weeks for your accessory to be delivered as they will have to be made if they are out of stock at the time of order.
Houston’s crested product range includes Sporrans, Kilt Pin’s, Belt Buckles, Sgian Dubh’s and much more. You can see our full range here!
We spent some time in our In-Store workshop watching many items being created by our wonderful seamstress Beth. In this series of articles we will take a closer look at a few of the Tartan accessories she has been crafting!
What are Tartan Flashes?
Historically, Tartan Flashes (also know as Garter Flashes) were simple ties worn around the upper calf and they served two purposes. Firstly they helped to hold up your Kilt Hose. It has also been said in folklore that they were used to make people aware of your marital status – if your Flashes were showing then you were single and available, while hidden Flashes meant that you were a taken man!
Modern Tartan Flashes add a little flair to your Kilt Socks, as well at securing your Kilt Socks in place, ensuring they don’t slide down your leg.
Flashes are usually either a Solid Colour or a Tartan Matching your Kilt’s design – though can also be made in contrasting tartans, or a tartan of the same family (e.g. Hunting Robertson Flashes with a Red Robertson Kilt.)
Flashes normally consist of two coloured pieces of cloth attached to an elasticated fabric strap, which can be tightened and loosened as needed. Their ends are usually fringed to add a flash of style to your socks but can also be made with V-cut edges!
How it’s Made – Tartan Flashes
To begin creating the Tartan Flashes lengths of Tartan cloth are measured and cut to leave you with 2 strips. Our seamstress Beth always endeavors to capture as many colours from the Tartan as possible in the material that is cut. Trying to incorporate the Tartan pattern in a small, thin strip is challenging, but Beth’s experience means that the results are always great to look at!
These will create the section of the Flashes that are visible while wearing. These strips are then folded in half and stitched closed, creating two tubes. These are then turned inside out to conceal the stitch work, leaving a clean, tidy seam.
From here the tubes are pressed to create the flat recognizable rectangular shapes of the Flashes. To create the fringing the threads are carefully hand pulled out of the open end of the tube. This creates the frayed effect, adding to the overall look of the Flashes.
The last stage is to attach the two tartan cloth strips to the elasticated strap. This will make sure the flashes stay secured to your leg and also they will provide support for your Kilt Hose. These parts are machine stitched together to create a strong bond between the Flashes and Strap, ensuring that they last you for years to come!
Nowadays the internet allows us to buy almost anything from anywhere in the world. With that much choice it’s hard to know where to go or even, where to start! Many people now look to customer reviews to highlight which companies are the most reliable and sell the best quality products.
As a retailer customer satisfaction is paramount, nothing means more to us than seeing a happy customer! Sometimes words on a screen just aren’t enough to convince you of a company’s quality. At Houston’s we can assure you our products are authentic and made in Scotland. We use only the best quality and have the greatest wealth of knowledge to help guide you. We have helpful and friendly staff working in our family run business which has been flourishing now for over 100 years… but like I said, sometimes words on a screen aren’t enough. That is why we are including photos!
Our customers often send photos of themselves in their highland wear from Houston’s so we thought we would share these with you. If your considering buying or hiring highland wear from Houston’s we are certain you will have a positive experience with us! See the smile’s on our customers faces if you don’t believe us!
Above is Antonio Vezza in a Houston’s Own Modern Bute Heather Tartan. Antonio took part in the 2013 Hampden Kilt Walk! Hundreds of participants took part in the 26 mile trek from Hampden to Loch Lomond to raise money for a range of Scottish Children’s Charities! Antonio remembered only at the very last minute he had forgotten to hire a kilt for the event! Not to worry Houston’s were on hand to help with a last minute hire!
Isn’t this a great photo of our customer Steve Baird and his wife? They donned their highland wear for a cultural diversity day at the school they work at in Houston, Texas!
Our customer Albert Davy from Austria purchased kilt packs for himself and his sons from Houston’s and sent on photos taken on 25th December at a photographic studio in his village and on 31st December at the New Year’s Eve Ball in The Vienna Imperial Castle. Some guests there believed Albert to be the Scottish Ambassador as his outfit was worn to perfection! Albert said “We had so much fun an received a lot of honours when I said “I’m a semi-Scotsman” telling the story of my ancients in Dumbarton”.
So don’t take our word for it, take our customers, word for it! After ‘the customer is always right’, right?
Kilts can be a tricky business, especially if you have never worn Highland wear before! There are various styles of Highland wear which can be worn for dress, day or casual wear. To make sure you get everything just right read our kilt ettiquette guide for information on tartans as well as advice on what to wear and how to wear it.
Who is entitled to wear a kilt?
One question we constantly get asked is: who is entitled to wear a kilt? Is it only for Scots or people with Scottish ancestors?
Answer: Anybody can wear a kilt!
Almost every country in the world has got some sort of tartan link. In England you have Cornish, Northumberland and Manx (Isle of Man) tartans. The Irish tartans consist of county tartans such as Ulster, Co. Mayo, Galway and Kildare and the Irish national tartan. We also have lots of Welsh tartans.
Over the past 400 years Scots have travelled the world reaching every corner of the globe. They have fulfilled a rich diversity of trades and professions including traders, missionaries, engineers, doctors, teachers, naturalists and inventors to name only a few. Within Europe many French, Spanish, Italian and German families have Celtic roots and are often of Scottish decent; whilst further afield there is a strong Scottish connection within America, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Russia. We export to every country in the world from the United States to the Falkland Isles.
What Tartan can I wear?
Most customers will choose a clan tartan based on a family name. This could be either a person’s own surname or that of a parent or grandparent. However; you can wear any tartan for any occasion. Traditionally hunting, ancient and weathered tartans were worn with tweeds and day jackets for outdoor functions, hunting and highland games. Dress and modern tartans were worn with formal functions and black tie dinners. Nowadays people tend to choose tartan for its aesthetic value, a family or clan connection; or to coordinate with wedding colours.
If you do not have family or clan tartan to choose from you can choose a tartan that anyone can wear. You can choose from a range of national tartan such as Scottish National or American National. Often over the years one has heard people explaining they have the right or that they are entitled to wear this or that tartan…. in fact no such right, in any legal sense, exists for them or anyone else ….the only considerations which govern the wearing of a particular set are usage and good taste (quote from Scottish Tartans Authority director Brian Wilton). Nowadays people tend to choose a tartan to coordinate with wedding or colours or purely for its aesthetic value. Greys in particular are currently in vogue and very popular amongst kilt buyers. Pictured above are examples of Houston’s own Bute Heather Tartan Designs which are predominantly woven in greys, purples and blues. There are only a few hundred tartans that are privately owned and require permission to be worn.
Weight of Tartans
19 oz kilts are generally for regimental wear but are available in around six tartans.
16 oz/17oz kilts are the largest range available with a choice of around 14,000 tartans. Heavy weight kilts are the best as the kilt sits and swings better. Heavy weight tartans can also be Teflon coated making them stain proof. Contrary to popular belief, heavy weight kilts are not any warmer than medium or lightweight kilts. It is in fact the top half of your outfit such as your jacket and waistcoat that generate heat. The majority of jackets are heavy weight however; Houston’s have perfected their own super light weight jacket which has a great cut and comfortable fit.
13oz Medium weight kilts are normally produced for Irish and Welsh national tartans. Medium weight kilts come in a choice of around 1000 tartans.
11oz light weight cloth would normally be woven for ladies skirts, gents’ trousers and waistcoats, children’s kilts, children’s trousers and ties. Kilts do not have a hem around the bottom of the garment however; children’s kilts can be cut for growth. A hem of around 2 to 3 inches will be added, and can then be let down when the child grows a bit taller.
8 oz fabric is used to make coordinating ties or bow ties and also ladies dresses.
Wool, like the 11oz lightweight cloth can be used for ladies and gents’ trousers and waistcoats.
Silk is available in 80 tartans and can be used to make ties, bow ties, waistcoats and ladies dresses.
Cotton and Poly Cotton can used to make napkins and shirts.
At Houston’s we were the first to Teflon coat/stain proof all our tartans, which makes our kilts and jackets fully protected from rain and stains. The fabric is even beer proof! The wool has the same handle and is fully breathable, making them safe to wear to rugby and football matches. We calculate that over the life span of your kilt you will save approximately £180 to £260, not having to get your kilt dry cleaned as often. This also helps the environment. The Teflon coating lasts a minimum of 18 dry cleans.
Samples and Swatches
If you would like a sample or swatch of tartan we offer these free of charge to customers. If you live locally there will be no charge for postage. If you live overseas there will be a charge of £5.00 GBP for postage as we ship thousands overseas. If you proceed to order from Houston’s this amount will be deducted from your final cost. We would also suggest that if a colour has already been chosen for the theme of a wedding e.g. if the colour pink has been chosen for the bridesmaids dresses it is helpful to bring a sample of the fabric into the store when inquiring about hiring or buying for the event. This allows Houston’s to show you the best coordinating tartans and furthermore, give you the option to have ties made to coordinate with your chosen colours.
The Reputable Mills
At Houston’s we tailor our kilts from pure wool tartans woven by Scotland’s top quality, reputable mills. We have all mass produced tartans by Lochcarron, House of Edgar, Strathmore, Bute Mill, Martin Mills, Batley & Dalgleish in 250 swatch book forms available to view in store.
The traditional 8 yard kilt is the standard measure of gents’ kilts. The kilt sits high on the waist, a couple of inches above the hip bone. This would be worn for formal occasions, and it is recommended that the 8 yard kilt be woven in a 17oz heavy weight fabric as this sits and swings better when worn. Some men’s kilts are still woven in 6 yards of cloth however 8 yards is the standard measurement for gents. 6 yard kilts are now more commonly made for women’s kilts.
Prince Charlie jackets are worn to dress occasion such as black tie dinners, balls, graduations and weddings. It is traditionally worn with a 3 button waistcoat with a black bow tie and a white standard or wing collar pleat front shirt. Alternatively it can be worn with a plain black or white front shirt, with double cuff and cufflinks.
The Prince Charlie jacket traditionally comes with shiny buttons and the silver wear to match however; antique buttons and silver wear have of late become more popular.
The jacket is more popularly worn with a spread bat wing shirt or a standard collar, plain front shirt in white or black with a plain or tartan ruche cravat. It can be worn with either a 3 or a 5 button waistcoat however; we recommend a 3 button waistcoat with tartan ruches. Prince Charlie jackets must be worn with dress sporrans and black or off white kilt hose or tartan hose. We strongly recommend you wear a belt and buckle as if you take your waist coast and jacket off for dancing you will not be properly dressed without a belt and buckle. Therefore we offer this as an option. A ruche tie should NOT be worn with a small wing collar shirt as the wings are too small. Please Note: We do have some dark navy jackets with shiny buttons that look best with modern, dark, navy tartans to be worn with navy or off white kilt hose.
ARGYLL OR BRAEMARS
The Argyll or Braemar are general jackets for any occasion, with shiny, antique or black button options. They are suitable for weddings, dinners, balls, graduations, christenings, burns suppers, highland games, ceildhies, garden parties, funerals and general day wear. Both can be worn with a plain tie or tartan tie (with or without a waist coat) or for evening wear with a bow tie (with or without a waist coat). With a ruche cravat a five button waist coat must be worn.
Argyll or Braemar can be worn with a black or white plain front shirt with a double cuff and cufflinks, with ruches or long ties. Bow ties must be worn with a pleat, front wing or standard collar shirt depending on the occasion. Ruche cravats worn with plain, standard or spread wing shirts must be worn with a waistcoat. Dress or semi dress sporrans can be worn or alternatively for a day event a leather sporran can be worn. Either black, off white, tartan or coordinating colour hose should be worn with your outfit.
These jackets are for day/casual events, weddings, highland games, funerals, etc. Jackets should be worn with plain, tweed or tartan ties or ruche cravats, with optional five button waistcoat. For some weddings spread bat wing shirts can be worn with a ruche cravat. We recommend you wear a semi dress, day or dress sporran depending on your shirt and tie option. When choosing your hose you must pick a colour similar to that of your jacket for example you may choose grey or black if your shirt and sporran are black. Off white hose must NEVER be worn with a tweed jacket.
These should be worn for the same occasions as Prince Charlie jackets and a jabot shirt and cuffs, or a tunic granddad collar shirt or alternatively a spread bat wing and ruche cravat.
Jacobite jackets and waistcoats can only be worn with Jacobite shirts. These are considered to be casual outfits.
For general dress occasions a semi dress or dress sporran should be worn for day wear either a day or semi dress sporran. Your sporran should always be centered on the front of the kilt. The only exception to this is when dancing with a partner. The sporran should then be worn to the side upon the hip so not to damage a ladies dress.
Sgian dubhs are to be placed in outside of right sock, showing only one inch of the sgian dubh. When entering company, raise the sgian dubh to about two inches above the top of the sock. This is to show that you are still partly armed when everyone sees you. There after you should once again conceal your sgian dubh so only one inch is visible.
When choosing hose you are best to select a colour that complements and coordinates with the tartan or jacket. Traditional colours are off white, black or navy. Grey should be worn with a grey tweed jacket.
Garter flashes are used to keep your socks up. However; in olden days showing your tie or flash symbolised a single status letting ladies know you were available. Flashes that were tucked away were symbolic of married men and men who were courting.
Shoulder plaids can be worn with dress jackets for weddings. They can be worn for photos then removed and put on top of the top table or cake table for decoration. Piper plaids must only be worn with Montrose or piper doublets.
Suggested dress code by De Bretts should be included on the bottom of invitations, as both ladies and gentleman will want to dress in accordance with your suggested dress code. This will often be dependent on the wedding venue. It should be noted on the invitation if you wish ladies to wear a hat. Below is a description of men’s dress.
Highlandwear: either; day, day/tweed, dress, black tie/evening wear or white tie.
Morning Wear: We suggest not mixing morning wear with highland wear. Therefore; if you wear morning wear you should incorporate a tartan tie, ruche or hanky to pull together your outfit and coordinate it with the other guests wearing highland wear.
Black Tie, is either Highland Wear or Black Evening Suits
BEST MAN DUTIES
Best man duties include looking after the groom before, during and after the wedding. Duties also include organizing the hires of outfits for the groomsmen. This includes fittings, collection and return of hires, etc.
FURTHER HELP AND INFO
Owner of Houston’s Ken MacDonald has had his own kilt for over 30 years and it is well maintained due proper care and storage. For further information on tartans as well as advice on what to wear and how to wear it please view our helpful video clips at www.kiltmakers.com/tv/
It’s that time of year again, love is in the air and every shop window is full of hearts and flowers. You guessed it; VALENTINE’S DAY! There are of course mixed opinions on this particular holiday. Many believe it to be the most romantic day of the year, others think it’s just another money making scandal!
It is true that Valentine’s Day has become something of a spectacle with flower shops charging more for red roses on Valentine’s Day than for any other day throughout the year. For many people it becomes a competition; how many gifts you give or indeed receive is somehow symbolic of how much you love or are loved.
It seems that the majority of us do not send cards any more and instead send on a Happy Valentine’s Day text message to our sweethearts instead! The Huffington Post reported that in Britain sales of Valentine’s Gifts dropped between 2011 and 2012. They also disclosed a report from O2 which stated that 11 million more text messages were on last Valentine’s Day last year, which was substantially higher than the number of text messages sent any other day in the month of February.
So what do you think? Are you an old romantic at heart? Do you expect card’s, flowers, and a big fuss? Or do you think Valentine’s Day is a load of nonsense? Well in Scotland it seems we are quite the charmers as reports show Glasgow to be the most romantic city! On the 13th February 2012 with the percent of postage sent in Scotland went up significantly!
Houston’s are a traditional company and so we understand how important it is to move with the times. We have our website www.kiltmakers.com, an app which allows you to design your own tartan and receive emails, calls and texts everyday regarding orders and general enquiries. At Houston’s our highlandwear and values are traditional but of course our ways of communicating with customers are not!
So is this now the new norm? Would you be happy to receive a text from your Valentine instead of a card?
Comment below and let us know!
Let us just take a moment to wish all you old romantics proposing on Valentine’s Day 2013 all the luck in the world! We hope the answer is YES!