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Highlandwear Made In Scotland Special Weave Tartans Weaving

Kilt Buying Guide – 3 Simple Steps to Buying a Kilt

Buying a Kilt can seem like a complicated process, but it is really quite straight forward. This guide will take you through the process step-by-step.

About our Kilts

All our Kilts are Made in Scotland. Our Kilts can be cut for growth so through time if you lose or gain weight your Kilt can be altered accordingly, ensuring your kilt lasts a lifetime.

All our Houston’s Own 16oz Heavyweight ranges K23b & K24 are Teflon Coated to Stain-Proof your Kilt from spillages, even Beer!

Time Scale and Price

Generally it takes 4 to 8 weeks to make kilt if the cloth is in stock, however we do offer an express service for delivery in 2 weeks at an additional cost of £50.

We recommend you start the process as soon as possible – if the cloth is out of stock at the mill it can take up to 4 to 6 months before it is rewoven.

The cost of a Kilt depends on your chosen Tartan, its rarity and your Kilt finish. Buying a full outfit as a Kilt Pack gives you an overall discount of 10%. Kilts start from £288 (£240 Tax-Free), and Kilt Packs from £620 (£517 Tax-Free).

Step 1 – Choosing Your Tartan

On our website, Kiltmakers.com you can browse through EVERY TARTAN, clan histories and clan crests using our Tartan Finder. Search through Sept names and Tartans anyone can wear!

The most common method of choosing a tartan is to pick one with links to your family name. For instance, if your surname is ‘MacDonald’, you could start by searching for all the ‘MacDonald’ tartans, and picking the design you like the most.

While you are searching you may notice that you find several variation of a tartan, such as Ancient, Modern, Hunting, Dress or Weathered. These colour variations are explained here.

In cases where a name does not have a direct match for a clan tartan, they might have a Sept match. Septs are surnames that, while not having their own clan, are associated with a clan. For example, instances of the name Reid can be associated with clan Robertson. Members of the Reid family should therefore wear Robertson tartan. Our Tartan Finder will bring up Sept matches to names, making it easy to find the tartan for you.

Along with clan tartans, there is a wide range of regional and district tartans. Example include tartans for each Irish County, American National Tartan, German Heritage, Irish National, Cornish National and so on. Even if your name doesn’t link with a tartan, a regional tartan could be a fine choice.

There is a wide range of ‘Fashion’ tartans, which can be worn by anyone. These are usually modern designs, though there are some blends of more traditional colour palettes. Houston’s exclusive Bute Heather range is an example of these tartans.

If you can’t find the perfect tartan from the selection available, why not have your own custom tartan specially woven? Houston’s owner Ken MacDonald is a renowned tartan designer and we can take you right though the process from designing the tartan to having it registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans and woven for you.

Step 2 – Choosing your Cloth Weight and Mille

Now that you have selected your tartan design, kilts come as standard in 8 yards (7.4m). Tartan fabric tends to come in 3 weights: Light (11oz), Medium (13oz) and Heavy (16/17oz). For a kilt we recommend a 16 oz Heavyweight cloth as the pleats sit and swings better, making you look a million dollars.

A Heavyweight cloth is NOT any warmer than a medium or light weight kilt – it is the weight of the jacket which builds up the heat.

You will notice the ‘Stain-Proofed’ tag on many of our tartans – these tartans have a special Teflon Coating which means you don’t have to worry about spills!

We are the only kilt shop to stock a 100% Fine Wool Super Lightweight. The custom cut of the jacket has been perfected over 20 years to give the best fit and each jacket has a stain proof coating.

Step 3 – Selecting your Kilt Finish

Kilt Finishes Explained - Explained

At Houston’s we offer a selection of different kilt finish across a range of prices. Our range of Kilt finishes are explained in more detail here: Kilt Finishes Explained

We recommend Kilt Finish No. 6 – Super Machine Understitched Kilt. It is made to the  same quality that we make Kilts for the MOD (Ministry of Defense) and all army kilts we make.

Additional Information

Upgrade to a full Kilt Packs, starting from £620 or £517 tax free. On all kilt packs over £600 you get a FREE shirt and tie value £60

Can’t make it to the shop? Our Self-Measurement guides and Videos on taking measurements will help you to get the perfect sizes.

We ship in the UK using Interlink Express and Worldwide using DHL. All orders are fully insured and tracked. Orders out with the EU receive TAX-FREE prices!

 
Hire & Buy Option

Why not take advantage of our Hire & Buy scheme, where you can buy a Kilt in ANY TARTAN and receive a loan of all the accessories for one week absolutely free!

Ideal if you have an upcoming event and would like to build up your Kilt outfit through time! (UK Only)

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We can post out FREE Tartan Swatches/Samples in the UK. Samples overseas require £5 p/p charge, which is refundable upon completing your order.

If you need any help with selecting your tartan, wish to make an order or anything other queries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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Highlandwear

Tartan Hero of the Month – April

Clann An Drumma

Clann An Drumma is a Scottish tribal band with a diverse age range amongst their members. Each member has their unique skillset that allows them to add to the quality of the band. They are for the most part Scottish born, with exceptions such as their member Dougie who was born in Singapore. In general, most of the band have been wearing some form of tartan and/or kilt from a young age, as they were in pipping bands in their younger years.

The band have commissioned their own tartan, The Clann An Drumma tartan. This is by far their favourite across the band. Individually, member Dougie also owns a Blackwatch kilt and a ward of the isles kilt, and Jamie owns a Clann An Drumma as well as a weathered Gun and a Culloden. Their ‘least favourite’ tartan would probably be the Anderson tartan. This is less of an aesthetic issue and more historical accuracy, as tartans initially were made with local resources, of which there would often be an overlap between regions, and thus a lot of tartans are similar at least in colours used. They would also blend in with the scenery, and the Anderson would be a poor choice of camouflage.

Band members Jamie and Dougie in our store.

Upon meeting the band, it is clear how knowledgeable about Highland culture and history they are. They use this knowledge to inform not only their music, but how they perform at gigs and other events. Their way of dressing is not just a performative feature, they are historically accurate and provide talking and learning points. When you see them dressed for events, you may stop to wonder why their sporrans are off to the side as opposed to centred like you may have seen in wedding photos etc. The correct placement is actually to the side, as when performing a Highland charge it would be impractical for it to be in the middle of ones legs.

For the band, dressing in a Feileadh Mòr evokes a sense of pride. They don’t have a favourite element of kilt outfits or a favourite way to wear it, and prefer to dress historically to represent the culture where highland wear has evolved from. Considering that when dressing in a Feileadh Mòr they have to place and pin the pleats each time, they say it is a relief taking it off at the end of an event.

The band are of the belief that whilst at times problematic, the romanticising of Highland life is a vehicle for people to learn about the topic. TV shows such as Outlander are bringing the concept of Highland culture to the masses, and one can only hope they take a genuine enough interest to do further research.

The band enjoys music from artists such as Maggie Bell, Frankie Miller, Battlefiend band and wolfstone. Each member would choose slightly different dinner guests if given the option of 3 Scottish dinner guests, past or present. For band member Jamie, he would choose William Wallace, Alasdair Mac Colla and Rob Roy. Member Dougie would choose Robert the Bruce, Sir James Douglas and of course, William Wallace.

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Burn's Night Highlandwear Kilt Hire Made In Scotland

Kilt Hire Guide – Find your Perfect Outfit

Houstons offer the largest and best range of kilt outfits for hire in the Scotland, with over 110 tartans, 20 styles of super lightweight jackets, three different button options and over 100 ruched tie colours 

Hires start from £75 and range to £145 depending on the rarity of the tartan selected, your jacket style and the finish of your accessories.

We have our luxury purple and grey tartan range with 22 grey designs and 15 purple designs. These tartans include our EXCLUSIVE Bute Heather range tartans.

Best to download our comprehensive 84 page Hire Brochure to view our exclusive range.

You can see our new range of tartans and price ranges in our latest Hire Leaflet.

Our Hire site can be found at KiltsForHire.com where you can see all Hire tartans, information and videos.

Special Offers – 6 Hires for the Price of 5!

Book 5 Hires and the 6th for groom goes FREE on 20 of our top tartans, 20 Styles of Jackets, 140 colours of Ruche Cravats and our Exceptional high quality service! Learn more HERE!

Wedding Extras

To make your wedding day extra special we take care of every little detail. We offer tartan ring cushions, hand ties, ladies garters, ribbon, ties, trim for dresses, handbags and button holes designed to match with your kilt design. Find our range of extras HERE, these can be made in ANY tartan on request.

We work closely with Joyce Young Collections who co-ordinate brides, mothers, bridesmaids’ and guest’s dresses with our tartans. She also has a factory outlet store open Saturdays in Glasgow, with up to 75% off.

Hire & Buy Offer

If you would like to buy a kilt in ANY TARTAN (over 14,000!) you can receive a loan of all the accessories for one week absolutely free!

Ideal if you have an upcoming event and would like to build up your kilt outfit through time! (UK Only) More details on Hire & Buy HERE.

Measurement and Shipping Information

Best to pop in to our store if you can to get measured. Your whole party does not need to get measured at the same time, they can come when available, they just need to mention the party name or groom’s name. If you can’t make it into the shop then you can use our easy to use Self-Measurement guide for HIRING a Kilt Outfit.

We ship in the UK using Interlink Express and Worldwide using DHL.

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Highlandwear

Tartan Hero Of The Month – March

Brian Wilton (MBE) is sometimes referred to as the “King of Tartan” due to his many years of service in the industry. When he was director of the Scottish Tartan Authority, he discovered he had a knack for tartan design and when STA’s registration processes were transferred to the Scottish Government’s official Scottish Register of Tartans, he pursued that and made it his main focus.

Mr Wilton comparing notes with Beefeaters at Buckingham Palace

Wilton was born in Bannockburn, near Stirling castle. During his career, out of the approximately 12,000 tartans that have been registered, Brian has designed about 250 of them. Surprisingly though, tartan was not a staple in his wardrobe before the 1980s. Since then, he has embraced tartan not only as an expression of culture, but as a tool that can connect modern day life to history.

Brian proud of the North Artic Convoy Tartan

In true tartan hero style, Brian owns nine kilts, three of which are Fraser tartans from his grandmothers side. He is no stranger to experimental textiles and techniques, and has items in his collection such as a fashion kilt in Harris Tweed, and a brown kilt made from fabric from an upholstery collection. He too is a fan of Houston’s quality Highland wear and in addition to kilts has pairs of tartan trews and trousers. His favourite tartan however, at least amongst the clan tartans, is the 1819 Old Stewart. The rarest piece of tartan he owns is clan tartans hand-woven by the late Jamie Scarlett MBE.

In addition to education, Brian is also passionate about breaking the traditional image of Highland dress. Whilst the origins of Highland dress is linked to Highland regiments and it being part of military uniform, Brian is keen for this not to be the only picture we conjure when we think of Highland dress. He believes such a rigid idea of what a kilt outfit is meant to look like limits people in not only their individual expression but stunts the growth of the trend – for Highland dress to remain part of our culture, there must be room for it to morph and change into a new version.

Brian with tartans he designed for the Royal College of Midwives and the Gleneagles G8

This desire to dismantle the stereotypical idea of what Highland dress is is fuelled in part by modern fashion. Brian states one of his most enthusiastic campaigns personally and professionally is encouraging major companies and brands to acquire their own tartans and incorporate them into their branding. Many of his design commissions have resulted in just that: Edinburgh Fringe, Nandos, B&Q and O2 are just a few examples.

Brian, as well as being a pillar of the tartan industry, is a forward thinker. He understands the significance of tartan in history as well as the role is can play in modern society. He is not all tartan all the time, however, and enjoys listening to Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Julie Fowlis and Duncan Chisholm. When asked which past or present Scottish dinner guest he would choose, he answered William Wilson of Bannockburn, Donald Dewar and Flora Macdonald.

Brian wearing the Khalsa Sikh Tartan of which he helped come to fruition.
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Highlandwear

World Poetry Day 21/03/22

Known as the weavers poet, Robert Tannahill was not as fortunate in his career as our beloved national bard, Robert Burns. The tragic ending to his life is what propelled him into the fame he so desired, and he became a pillar in a town full of innovation and culture.

Born in Castle street in Paisley, Tannahill was born with a slight deformity in his right leg, leading to a limp and contributing to his slight frame. Tannahill came from a family of nine, as noted in a letter he wrote to a friend. When he was of school leaving age (around 12 for most working class/labouring families) he was an apprentice under his father, who was a silk gauze weaver.

Upon completion of his apprenticeship, Tannahill left Paisley to work in Bolton, Lancashire, where he stayed until 1801. He returned to Paisley to take care of his family, with his father passing not long after his return. It is during this time that Tannahill writes the letter to his friend discussing how him and his brother are the sole carers for their mother, and how not many years ago the family used to share happy times over the dinner table.

Tannahill’s works date to his return to Paisley, and one of his earliest poems is “The Fillial Blow” where he discusses the raw emotions of caring for an elderly parent from the perspective of both parties ; “but mostly this o’erclouds her every joy, She grieves to think she may be burthensome, now feeble, old, and tott’ring to the tomb” and Roberts experience of care-taking is heart-wrenching and universally relatable “Tis mine, to hand her down life’s rugged steep: With all her little weaknesses to bear,
Attentive, kind, to sooth her every care. ‘Tis nature bids, and truest pleasure flows, from lessening an aged parent’s woes”.

Despite the lack of fame and admiration whilst he was alive, after his suicide his significance in our culture grew; from annual concerts at the Gleniffer braes to raise money for his statue in Paisley centre, to being included in the Wallace monument’s Hall of Heroes. The quality of his work transcends centuries, and the experiences he speaks to are universal to many.

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Highlandwear

Tartan Hero of Month

February

An interview with Mr Robert Keys

Mr Robert Keys, born in Uddingston, is a volunteer guide for Glasgow Cathedral which he does through The Society of Friends of Glasgow Cathedral. He heard of this unique volunteering opportunity by chance through an article in a paper.

Robert began this volunteer work in his retirement, before this he was in food and wine & spirit sales, and also briefly selling men’s clothes. His formative experience of kilts and highland wear was as a young teen in a pipe band. As he entered the working world he would attend licenced functions with his co-workers and dawned a kilt for these occasions.

Since his piping days, Robert has grown fond of highland dress and now owns 6 kilts! And he even has customisations for his outfits, such as a kilt made with only one buckle on either side for when he wears his Prince Charles jacket.

Robert Keys Outside Houston Kiltmakers with Ken Macdonald

Mr Keys views kilts as an investment and spoke proudly of how his wife chose the tartan for the kilt he came in to our store wearing, the Isle of Skye tartan. His favourite tartan is the Davidson Tartan, which is the catchment tartan for his surname.

Robert presents himself well wherever he may be going, and thus generally prefers to wear highland dress formally. His exception is adding a Jacobite shirt to make things a bit more casual.

Robert has also played a small part at tartan design, being involved in the process with Uddingston rugby club when they commissioned a cloth for their centenary dinner.

Mr Keys being shown points of pride in store at Houston Kiltmakers By Ken Macdonald

Throughout his life, Mr Keys has taken his kilts with him on his travels. He brings his kilts to rugby games or pipe band gigs, as well as corporate events. His kilts have seen places such as Canada, Italy, Greece and France.

Robert is not always all kilts and tartan. He enjoys Scottish music artists such as Barbara Dixon, Field Marshall Montgomery, Annie Lennox and Annie Ross. His favourite piping band are the Inveraray & District Pipe Band, who he has followed since their days as a juvenile band.

Roberts choice of 3 Scottish dinner guests, past or present, would be Robert Burns, Ricky Fulton and William Barkley. Some dinner party!

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Highlandwear

Diversity in Tartan

Despite its heavy association with Scotland and the rest of the UK, tartan as a concept actually began out of Asia and Europe. Many variations have came about in part due to fast fashion; taking the pattern that is traditionally woven in wool and weaving it into all sorts of new fabrics, until it is the fashion staple we all know today seen all across the world.

However, along with people who have commissioned their own personal tartans, there are designers out there changing the landscape of tartan. Designers such as Parminder Kaur Kooner, who after visiting Scotland and seeing the Highland Games in 1979, was in awe of the array of kilts worn by all, young and old.

After some research, Parminder learned that each tartan typically represents a clan and their heritage. With this she returned to London with an idea to create a tartan to represent Khalsa Sikhs. It would be 30 years in the making, as in 2015 Parminder met with Brian Wilton MBE, considered the “tartan ambassador”, to discuss the possibility of creating the Khalsa tartan.

The Khalsa tartan consists of these colours; blue, black, yellow orange and white. The five narrow blue bands represent the Five Ks, Five Beloved Piyaarey and five Takhts. Apart from the narrow lines, all color bands comprise ten threads or multiples of ten to celebrate ten Sikh Gurus. The small yellow square symbolizes Guru Granth Sahib Ji (living Guru) and Darbar Sahib, The Golden Temple in Amritsar. The surrounding four orange squares symbolizes the Chaar Sahibzadey – the four sons of the 10th Sikh Guru, The Saint and Soldier Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the creator of Khalsa in 1699. The squares also represent the four entrances of Darbar Sahib, symbolizing openness of humanity.

We at Houston’s are proud to be the chosen kiltmakers for Khalsa tartan. We had the honour of Parminder and her family visiting us in our store in Paisley, to discuss Khalsa tartan jackets! Bespoke tartans are a means of representation, a means of inclusion, and a way of showing pride for one’s culture. We are honoured to be a part of that process for Khalsa Tartan.

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Highlandwear

Kilts: From Highland Dress to Fashion Week

The world has changed significantly in a short space of time. Our technological advancement’s within the past decade or so have led to the internet becoming a world-wide platform. This not only affected things like fashions that the kids were following, but also evoked a lot of social and political revolution.

Tartan, in one way or another, has always been associated with revolution. In the 18th century, the Jacobite’s wore it as a sign of allegiance to the Stuarts; in the 1970’s, punks “ripped up tartan shirts and adapted kilts as an anti-establishment message”. Japanese school girls have also adapted a style known as Kogal, in which they wear loose socks, microskirts (often featuring tartan), as well as having dyed hair. In modern times, the tartan rebellion is associated more often with ideas of gender non-conformity, individuality and freedom of expression.

In the world of fashion, those who are well established and respected are the ones who push the boundaries of what is acceptable, and if we the public take to it, it becomes a trend. Glasgow born Charles Jeffrey, who has been worn by artists such as Harry Styles and Tilda Swinton, is said to have taken influence from the punk subculture with regards to his designs, and is regarded on a similar level to Alexander McQueen. Designers Chopova Lowena are known for tearing up traditional textiles only to re-stich them in a new and unique way. They have dual British-Bulgarian heritage and their aim is to “Usher in a system of ethical consumption with a focus on appreciating skill, craft, time and consideration for impact on the environment”.

So, subcultures such as the punks have created an alternate association for the kilt and tartan; leading to clothes that were once heavily gendered becoming available for anyone wishing to express themselves, whether that’s stylistically or personally. The kilt has been significant in modern fashion expression due in part to its gender-fluidity. Times have changed and at Houston’s we will dress you to look your best, no matter what you’ll be wearing.

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Highlandwear

Royal Tartans – Tartan Fit for a Queen (Or King!)

The British Royal family have had long ties with the traditional cloth of Scotland and a great affinity towards tartan. This link didn’t just start with the current monarch, but can be traced back hundreds of years!

The Dress Act of 1746 under George II brought a ban on kilts and all aspects of highland wear except for uses in the military. Any individual in breach of this act would imprisoned for 6 months for their first offence, and on their second they would be sent to overseas work camps. When the act was repealed it proved to kick-start the popularity in tartan – both with the general public and royalty.

The Royal Stewart and Royal Balmoral Tartans

George IV’s visit to Scotland in 1822 propelled the kilt into the forefront of everyone’s minds. Whilst his would have been far dressier than the traditional highlander kilt, the concept became sensationalised and romanticised. This started the real love affair with the royals and tartan.

King George IV in a Kilt Outfit on his visit to Scotland

Queen Victoria continued the link with tartan during her reign, often dressing her children in Kilts. Prince Albert, Victoria’s husband, was a keen tartan designer and attributed as the creator of the (Royal) Balmoral tartan – a tartan to be worn exclusively by the royals and specially selected parties. (The Queen’s personal piper is one of the selected few allowed to be dressed in the tartan.)

The Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles are all keen wearers of Tartan

Queen Elizabeth is also a keen supporter of tartan, often seen wearing the cloth at Highland games or on visits to Scotland. Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales is also often spotted in a Highland outift on public occasions.

The British Royal family and Tartan have always gone hand in hand. As Queen Elizabeth II breaks the record for longest serving monarch, we hope the link continues for many years to come!

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Highlandwear

Handfasting

Scottish Wedding Traditions

Many cultures and religions have traditions that are performed during wedding ceremonies and receptions, for example Jewish cultural tradition is to smash a glass under one’s foot once the vows have been said. This is to remind the couple that marriage has highs and lows, and to stick by each other through the peaks and troughs of life.

The Scottish tradition of hand-fasting dates back to medieval times, and is also thought to have came from Celtic and Pagan rituals. Gaelic scholar Martin Martin describes hand fasting as an ancient custom of the Isles where “a man would take a maid as his wife for the space of a year without marrying her, and if she pleased him all the while, he married her at the end of the year and legitimised her children, and if he didn’t love her, he returned her to her parents”. Not exactly the stuff of Hollywood rom-coms!

By the 18th century, the Church of Scotland no longer recognised unions formed by consent and consummation, even though civil authorities did. So the way around this was to perform the ceremonies in public. This was until 1939 when Scottish marriage laws were reformed and hand-fasting was no longer recognised.

Modern interpretations of hand-fasting are ones of love and the binding of two souls. It has seen a revival over the years due in part to more and more couples wanting to personalise aspects of their wedding and make it unique to them. It was also featured in the Stark wedding of Game of Thrones, further romantising this ancient practice.