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Valentine’s Day… Love in the Digital Era

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!

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilt Hire Kilts Kilts for Sale Scotland Scottish Clans Scottish History tartan traditions traditions Wedding Kilts

Scottish Wedding Traditions

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! The shops are full of cards, hearts and chocolates and love is in the air! With many romantic Scots planning a Valentine’s Day Proposal or indeed a Valentine’s Day Wedding; here at Houston’s HQ we thought we’d fill you in on some age old traditions for your traditional Scottish wedding!

Firstly, it is customary for the gentleman to ask his girlfriends Father for her hand in marriage. Although this tradition has become less popular of late it is still practised. Many couples will have an engagement party to celebrate the union, you know us Scots; any excuse for a party! The party will of course be filled with family, friends, loved ones, dancing and of course celebratory drinks to toast the happy couple.

At the wedding ceremony there are many traditions which are carried out at almost every wedding. One of the most important is music . Bagpipes are of course symbolic of traditional Scottish music but there are often other instruments involved such as the harp. This may be involved in the wedding ceremony and then carry on afterwards at the reception.

Dress code is of course a very important factor in any wedding. However in Scotland it is suggested that the couple state the dress code on their wedding invitation. Dress code is often dependant on the venue and time of day. For ladies the dress code would imply whether or not they should wear a hat. However; more importantly for the men it would be outlined if they should wear Highlandwear, morning wear, lounge suits, black tie or smart casual.

If the groom wears a kilt it is suggested all his grooms men wear matching attire. Tartan for the kilt is a personal choice. Some men choose their family or clan tartan but others will choose a colour which coordinates with the bridesmaids dresses. Organising kilt hire is one of the Best Man’s duties. Best man duties include looking after the groom before, during and after the wedding. Duties also include organising the hires of outfits for the groomsmen. This includes fittings, collection and return of hires, etc.

One of the most important (and for the men nerve racking) traditions is the toasts. Tradition dictates that the father of the bride prepares a speech and at the end offers the first toast to the bride and groom. This speech usually offers advice and well wishes for the future and is often filled with funny anecdotes from the brides childhood or personal stories about hid daughter and new son in law. The groom will then give his wedding toast, which generally includes special thanks his parents, the bridal party, and to all those involved in organising the big day. The best man is the last to toast. This toast is normally the most dreaded by the groom as tradition states that it be filled with funny or even embarrassing stories about the groom!

Thereafter tradition states that everyone attending must join the bride in groom in making their special day the best day of their lives!

On that note Houston’s would like to wish all those proposing ad getting married this year all the luck in the world! If you have any further questions regarding this blog please don’t hesitate to comment below. Or if you wish to hire or buy highland wear for a wedding visit our website www.kiltmakers.com

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Tips on Wearing a Kilt!

Highland wear can be a tricky business! Especially for men wearing a kilt for the first time. It’s a whole new experience and we want to make sure you get everything just right so your outfit looks perfect! Houston Kiltmakers want to assist you any way we can so have a look below at our useful hints and tips on highland wear!

1. Put your socks on first; make sure ribs on socks are running vertical and not twisted. Top of socks should be parallel and same length. Put the garter flashes on socks to the outside of your leg, making sure there is a three to four inch gap between the top of the socks and bottom of the kilt. About one inch below the knee is an ideal resting point for your socks.

2. Put your sgian dubh down the right leg of your sock. If you are left handed it can be worn down your left leg.

3. Put your ghillie brogue shoes on, twist the laces three to four times and take round back of the calf. Return them to the front of your shin about 2/3 of the way up and tie in a normal bow quite firmly and show to the front or side as preferred. If you find the laces are constantly slipping down and becoming loose then wrap them lower down your leg or round your ankle a couple of times.

4. Put on your shirt making sure any creases are ironed out, and put your cufflinks on.

5. Make sure the kilt pin is on the front apron only, on the fringed side of your kilt about two inches from the bottom and side of the fringe.

6. Put your kilt on making sure it is a good fit and it sits well up (about one and a half inches above the hip bone). Then look at the front apron and make sure the centre line is down the middle of the kilt so it is well balanced with pleats to the back. When looking in the mirror the kilt should be in an A shape with the sides well balanced.

7. Clip the chain strap onto the sporran, then put the chain strap through the kilt belt loops and fasten your sporran at the back of the kilt. Make sure the sporran is centred to front apron, positioned about four to five inches below the top of the kilt. You can rest the chain strap on top of the kilt buckles if you wish. This will secure the sporran a bit better.

8. Then put the belt and buckle on covering the chain strap. We recommend jacket wearing a belt as if you remove your jacket and waistcoat during an event the outfit will look bare, so we include a belt with all our hires. Check that the belt buckle is about one to two inches above the sporran.

9. If you are wearing a shoulder plaid, fasten under your left hand jacket lapel and fasten with plaid brooch onto jacket only.

10. Put on your waistcoat, then jacket. Make sure the jacket is fitting square on, with the waistcoat buttons, tie, sporran, buckle and kilt centre line all straight up and down. If driving to a venue, we advise that you hang the jacket up in the back and put it on when you get out the car. Try not to drive with your jacket on as it may crease.

11. Finally put on your tie, bow, ruche or standard tie.

12. Make sure you have a dram in your sporran flask and have an optional sprig of heather for your button hole.

We hope this information helps! Please comment below with any questions!

Houston Traditional Kiltmakers Est. 1909

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Burn's Night Burn's Supper Christmas Highlandwear Kilt Kilt Hire Kilts Kilts for Sale Robert Burns Scotland Scottish Clans Scottish History tartan traditions Wedding Kilts

Hiring vs Buying… Making an informed decision!

Bute Heather Tartan Kilt Collection
Bute Heather Tartan Kilts

There’s always an occasion to wear a kilt to. We have Burn’s Supper in January and then for the old romantics maybe a Valentine’s Day Wedding in February. Christenings, funerals, parties, through to May when Communion ceremonies start and then wedding season begins! Whether it’s your own event or that of friends or family there are sure to be many events to keep your social calender full at the weekends right through to the festive period and Hogmanay, then your back to January getting your kilt ready for Burn’s Supper again!

A kilt is a garment that last a lifetime and one that will never go out of fashion. However; with so many choices of tartan the fashion concious customers may opt to hire for each individual event and try a new tartan every time! Other may choose to buy their family tartan or a couple may decide to merge their clan tartans to create a new family tartan and have it specially woven for their wedding. It can be hard to decide whether to hire or buy but here is a quick breakdown to help you make an informed decision.

Hiring

As previously mentioned hiring may be ideal for the fashion concious kilt wearer. You can pick a different tartan each time you hire. This can often be a good option if you are one of the grooms men and need your kilt to coordinate with the bridesmaids dresses. If the grooms men plan to hire for a wedding always remember to ask your kilt maker if they provide a group hire option as this can be very cost effective! Houston’s offer a group hire option where if 5 men hire kilt outfits the groom will get his for free!

With a choice of 130 tartans Houston’s is the place to go as most hire shops have a choice of between 6 an 16.

Always ask how much you need to pay and whether or not it is refundable due to cancellation, you never know what might happen and you don’t want it to cost you!

Make sure your hire outfit includes everything you will need, you don’t want to discover on your wedding day that you are minus one shirt!

Buying

Often men will hire as buying a full kilt pack can be very costly. However; Houston’s are one of the few who provide a hire and buy option where if you buy your kilt we will provide the rest of the outfit for hire free of charge. We also have a kilt sale on and are offering 20% off made to measure kilts until the 28th February 2013 so there is no better time to buy! Using this option you can build up your kilt pack over time.

If you choose to buy a kilt it truly is a garment that will last a lifetime. So, many will choose their family tartan for its sentimental value. This made to measure garment can be cut for growth so it can be let out if you lose weight or alternatively it can be let out if you gain. That way the garment could also be passed on to the next generation of the family. Also if you buy your kilt for your wedding day, in the same way your wife keeps her dress you will have your kilt as a wonderful reminder of the best day of your life, difference being you can wear yours again!

If you are buying your kilt for a specific occasion make sure you allow 6 – 8 weeks for the production process.

Hiring is a great option for local customers as they can visit the shop easily however; for customers purchasing overseas buying is your only option unless you will be staying in Scotland for your event.

This is a short pro’s and con’s list to give you a better idea of what your options are. We hope this helps! Please feel free to ask us any questions we will try and help you in any way we can!

Don’y forget to find us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HoustonKiltmakers1909
and Twitter: @Houstonkilts

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Hogmanay… Scottish New Year

Well the turkey has been eaten, the presents opened and Santa has been and gone! Christmas is over and done with well, for another year at least! But the party’s not over just yet, in Scotland we’re just getting started!

In Scotland we are well known for throwing a good party and New Year or as it’s known locally Hogmanay is the biggest party of the year in Scotland! Glasgow and Edinburgh are now well known party locations where thousands gather outside and countdown to the New Year! Whilst in New York everyone watches the ball drop, Scotland holds a countdown to ‘the bells’ which ring out at midnight at Edinburgh castle and symbolise the New Year beginning.

There are various quintessentially Scottish traditions associated with Hogmanay, for example; after the bells ring everyone will shake hands and offer a kiss on the cheek to wish one another a Happy New . We then cross our arms joining hands with one another in a circle and sing Rober Burns classic Auld Lang Syne.

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot for auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup o kindness yet, for auld lang syne.”

The term auld lang syne is representative of notions of nostalgia and and days gone buy, in particular; those fondly remembered. It is when we sing these words that we reflect and raise a glass to the year past and the new one beginning.

Another popular tradition in Scotland is “First footing” this is the first foot in the house in the New Year. It was believed many years ago that it was good luck if the first footer were male, with dark hair and brought a gift such as coal, shortbread, salt, or whisky. It is still customary to give a gift when first footing, however; nowadays the gift is more commonly alcohol, shortbread, biscuits or sometimes even tea bags.

It is of course essential that you dress to impress to bring in the bells. The ladies will wear nice dresses and the gents wear suits and often kilts, trews and highland wear (enter Houston’s!).

These are some of our New Year’s traditions let us know yours!

Wherever you celebrate, and whatever you are doing Houston’s hope you are surrounded by loved ones and wish you all luck, love and good health in 2013!

For Auld Lang Syne!

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Christmas Scotland traditions traditions

Scottish Christmas

It’s that time of year again! In less than a week Santa will have visited all the good little boys and girls, the presents will have been opened, the dinner cooking away, the Christmas music blasting from every home, and family fun and festivities will be in full swing!
Many standard traditions will be fulfilled such as your grandparents or parents giving their annual ‘you don’t know how lucky you are…all I got in my day speech’. My Gran claims she got an apple and orange for Christmas. It would explain why she’s still going strong at 90 years old, you know what they say; an apple a day…
However, it seems that the concept of a traditional Christmas is a very distant memory. There are more homes with central heating than fires and kiddies receiving technological gifts from Santa such as mobile phones and iPods instead of bears and dolls but some things never change. In Scotland, even in changing times we like so many others will surround ourselves with family and the ones we love. We swap gifts, enjoy drinks and get all dressed up (even if we are just going to a family members house). Many will decide to stay in their pyjamas all day as Christmas is their first day to relax after the crazy working period leading to the 25th but most will stay in their pyjamas instead of venturing outside into the often adverse weather conditions!
Then, the food! Maybe its purpose is to heat everyone up but soup tends to be a popular starter! Scotland’s traditional Christmas dinner like many other countries is turkey with all the trimmings. Other dishes include steak pie or beef. The table is always set with crackers in place, the crackers will be pulled, the terrible joke told and then your lovely outfit will be accompanied by a silly paper crown. One family member will of course decide this is the time to take a photograph, thanks for that!
As the day draws in and things calm down, the family will often collect in one room and listen to music or watch the Queen’s speech, or Christmas movies. You quickly realise the meaning of Christmas when you realise how much you have laughed and enjoyed the day and look around at the people who made that possible.
On that note we would like to wish a very Merry Christmas to you and yours from Houston Kiltmakers in Paisley. We hope you have a fantastic day!

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilt Hire Kilts Scottish Clans Scottish History tartan Wedding Kilts

Scottish Weddings

When couples decide to jet off to get married the usual destinations are the exotic locations of Italy, Spain, Mexico and America. With these destinations within such close reach many may wonder why Canadian couple Fraser and Laura flew thousands of miles to get hitched in Scotland. It may be unclear to many but as a true Scot born and bred, I can tell you that what Scotland lacks in sunshine it makes up for in beauty, history and a rich culture. Scotland is famous for its rich culture, historic landmarks, and picturesque lochs. It is recognized in world cinema within classics such as Whisky Galore! and Braveheart. Character Stephen in Braveheart looks round at the army of Scotsmen standing strong and proud in their kilts and tells William Wallace “The Almighty says this must be a fashionable fight. It’s drawn the finest people”. It is true, that as well as the beautiful sights in Scotland the traditional dress is just as striking and symbolic of our wonderful country.

Fraser and Laura of Toronto, Canada got engaged after two years together and decided to fly almost 3,300 miles to marry in the town where Fraser’s ancestors lived before venturing across the Atlantic. The couple were not entertained by the standard practice of getting married in the popular wedding destinations of the Caribbean or Mexico, and with both Laura and Fraser’s ancestry dating back centuries to Scotland it seemed like the perfect choice. More specifically, as Fraser’s relatives had been married in Paisley Abbey centuries before that is where the couple set their hearts on for their big day. The couple faced quite a challenge arranging a wedding through only email and phone calls, but it was a challenge accepted and completed without fail. The couple commented that all the businesses they used within Paisley were particularly helpful (Oh and yes the happy couple did hire their highland wear from Houston Kiltmakers!).
It just goes to show that sometimes the most unlikely of places make the most special memories.

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilts Scottish History tartan

Tartan Takeover!

Houston’s had previously written on a blog about celebrity men in kilts after US rapper P Diddy rocked out Glasgow’s Fruitmarket in his grey kilt whilst flying the Saltire. This led us to think… with all the many celebrities including actors, musicians and TV stars that have donned the kilt on both stage and screen, who deserves to make the Top 10? There was much debate here at Houston HQ but the results were inconclusive, no one could agree!

Our top 10 included

PDiddy
Biffy Clyro
Gerard Butler
Ed Westwick
Ewan McGregor
Sting
Dougray Scott
Sammuel L Jackson
Mel Gibson
Rod Stewart
Mike Myers
Ashton Kutcher

However, since this list has been created we quickly began to notice, it’s not just men that are rocking the the kilt. Ladies have also bought into the tartan trend and so began the tartan takeover!
Although kilts and tartan are a traditional form of dress adaptations of these such as tartan shirts, skirts and dresses can be found in high street fashion stores. Modern fashion designers such as Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood have introduced tartan to the catwalks of the most high profile fashion shows giving highland wear a modern edge. Tartan has become a noticeable celebrity trend with various styles been worn by stars such as Kiefer Sutherland, Chris Noth, Billy Connolly, Sean Connery, Rihanna, Katherine Jenkins, Taylor Swift, Victoria Beckham, Kylie Minogue and Emma Watson to name only a few. Furthermore, tartan has most recently been worn by The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton which has given the tartan trend a regal accreditation. This celebrity trend has widened the tartan appeal around the globe to a much larger and more diverse audience.
Scotland has set the precedence for New Year and Hogmanay celebrations with millions of people round the world wearing Kilts, trews and other tartan clothing to honour their Scottish decent whilst singing to our very own Rabbie Burns’ beautiful ballad Auld Lang Syne. Whilst many believe the term ‘traditional dress’ to reflect ideas of old or outdated wear, kilts and tartan have never been more fashionable or versatile. Available in thousands of variations of tartan, with a diversity of shirts, ties and accessories no two outfits need ever be the same!

On that note Houston’s want to create the definitive Top Ten Tartan Trendsetters! Please leave a comment with the male or female celebrity you would like to nominate and we’ll be back soon with the results!

PDiddy in Scottish Tartan Kilt @ Glasgow Fruitmarket
PDiddy in Scottish Tartan Kilt @ Glasgow Fruitmarket

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilts

Celebrity Men in Kilts

PDiddy in Scottish Tartan Kilt @ Glasgow Fruitmarket
PDiddy in Scottish Tartan Kilt @ Glasgow Fruitmarket

Celebrities in kilts have been in magazines, on the stage and screen for years! Even US rapper P Diddy rocked out Glasgow’s Fruitmarket last October in his grey kilt whilst flying the Saltire (touche!).  But of all the celebrities, actors, musicians and TV stars that have donned the kilt on both stage and screen, who deserves to make the Top 10? There was much debate here at Houston HQ on our coffee break, that’s for sure.

Unsurprisingly we could not agree. So we wanted to share our thoughts and let you help us come up with a Top 10 list of celebrity men in kilts.

What celebrities, actors or musicians do you think have really rocked the kilt? To get the ball rolling we have jotted down some of our own favourites.

Celebrities who ‘rock’ the Kilt

  • PDiddy
  • Biffy Clyro
  • Gerard Butler
  • Ed Westwick
  • Ewan McGregor
  • Sting
  • Dougray Scott
  • Sammuel L Jackson
  • Mel Gibson
  • Rod Stewart
  • Mike Myers
  • Ashton Kutcher

With Glee star Kurt Hummel sporting a kilt and the fashion pack all predicting tartan is here to stay we had best keep our eyes peeled for more additions in the coming weeks!

We need your help

All suggestions are very welcome, just add your suggestions using the comment form below. We will ask our friends on Twitter and Facebook too so watch this space.

The Houston Kiltmakers Official Top 10 Celebrity Men in Kilts is coming soon. Come on, join in the fun!

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilts Scottish Clans Scottish History

The Clan MacDonald History

Clan MacDonald

Here at Houston Kiltmakers we not only stock every tartan but we know pretty much all there is to know about Scotland’s Clans. So we wanted to spread the love and share a spot of Scottish Clan history with you. You never know could make for pub quiz fodder or just to impress friends and family round the dinner table! So let’s start with Houston’s Clan of choice, The MacDonald Clan.

The MacDonald Clan

The MacDonald clan is often described as the most powerful of the clans. The progenitor of the clan, Donald of Islay, had distinguished ancestry: his grandfather was King Somerled and his grandmother was daughter of Olaf. The first MacDonald possession was Islay where the family became Lord of the Isles.

The MacDonalds were keen supporters of the Bruce, the only man likely to succeed in restoring Scotland as an independent Kingdom. The power of the Lordship reached it’s peak under John, Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles. Although all titles were stripped by Henry VII of England when John was defeated. Attempts were made to revive the lordship but by 1545 it became a forlorn hope! Which was the successful policy of the royals to keep the Clan Donald divided. MacDonald remains the most common Mac name in Scotland.

MacDonlad Clan Motto

By Sea And By Land

My Hope Is Constant In Thee

So a big hello to all fellow MacDonald’s out there and if you want to find out more about your Scottish ancestors simply type your surname into our Tartan Finder! Enjoy…..