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 customize 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 personalized 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!
At Houston’s we take great pride in our Kilts and Highland Wear, endeavoring to provide our clients with the highest quality produce. We strongly support the Scottish Manufacturing of Traditional Highlandwear and look to source products locally where possible – Made in Scotland!
All our Kilts are Made to Measure, Made in Scotland and Made to Last! We use several local Kiltmakers, all with many years’ experience in crafting Handmade Kilts. Most of our Kiltmakers are based around the Paisley area (on the Central Belt of Scotland) and work from home. Kilt Making was traditionally a cottage industry, and that is still the case today!
Locally Sourced Tartan Cloth
We source the cloth for our Kilts, Tartan Trews, Waistcoats, Tartan Suits and any other Tartan Accessories from Scottish Mills.* We work with all the remaining Tartan Mills in Scotland to provide any Tartan design our client requests and also have the ability to Specially Weave custom Tartan Designs. We feel that it is important to support this Traditional Scottish industry which has been well-established for many generations. As Vice-Chairman of the Scottish Tartans Authority (STA), Houston’s owner Ken MacDonald continues to work towards protecting Scottish Tartans and the production of this fabric in Scotland for future generations.
Scottish Highland Outfit Accessories
For our Highland Wear Accessories – Sporrans, Silverware, Kilt Pins, Sgian Dubhs and and other items that complete a Highland Outfit – we look to local suppliers. Bespoke, Clan Crested items are made to order and add a special touch to any outfit!
Houston’s also has an in-store workshop where our Seamstress, Beth, works to craft custom Tartan Accessories for clients – ranging from Shoulder Plaids, Ring Cushions and Ties to Ladies Garters, Tartan Flashes and anything else you can think of!
Houston’s Traditional Scottish Outfits are the Real McCoy – Made in Scotland! We are a 4th Generation family run business, working out of the same store on Paisley’s High Street since 1909 and more than happy to help deliver your perfect Highland Outfit!
Sporrans come in many different styles and designs, varied for every occasion. This weeks post will cover a history of the Sporran, why it is worn, the different types of Sporrans and look at the range that Houston Kiltmakers stock, from Plain Leather Day Sporrans to Clan Crested Specialist Dress Sporrans.
History of the Sporran
The word Sporran is the Scottish Gaelic word for purse. Most Kilts did not (and still don’t) have pockets cut into the material. This left the wearer with no place to store small items they were carrying – this could have been money, lead musket shot in times of war or perhaps even small quantities of food. The Sporran became a handy pouch that could be worn with a Kilt to give the wearer somewhere to store these items. In modern times these pouches store items such as mobile phones, wallets – even a small hip flask can be concealed inside!
Types of Sporrans
Traditional Sporrans were usually no more than a simple leather pouch. Modern Sporrans come in many different varieties. There are 3 main Sporran Types: Day, Dress and Semi-Dress.
Day Sporrans most resemble traditional Sporrans and are used at less formal event (the name suggests it is for day to day wear). They are often made of all leather with no metal cantle.
Dress Sporransare the most formal style of Sporrans, worn at events such as Weddings and other events where you will be looking your best. Usually made in a wide range of Animal Furs, Dress Sporrans usually can be customized with different cantle style and a choice of a Shiny or Antique finish.
Semi-Dress Sporranscombine elements from both the Dress and Day Sporrans, often animal fur for the body and leather for the Sporran flap. These are sporrans that can be worn for all occasions when you want to look that little bit sharp. Think of it as a smart but casual sporran!
In addition to these variations of Sporrans there are also Specialist Sporrans, which come in many styles and can often be customized with different cantles, clan crests etc. Horse Hair Sporrans are most commonly associated with Pipe Bands and have long strands of horse hair hanging down from the front.
How to wear your Sporran Correctly
The Sporran, after the Kilt, is one of the most important pieces of your Highland Outfit, so making sure that it is worn correctly is vital. You should be able to draw a straight line down the front of your outfit and your waistcoat buttons, tie, sporran, buckle and Kilt centre line. (See Picture Below) The only exception to this is when dancing with a partner, the Sporran can be moved to the side in this case to prevent damaging the ladies dress.
The top of the sporran should hang down approximately 4 or 5 inches from the top of the Kilt – around 3 finger widths below the top of the Belt Buckle (See Above).
Houston Kiltmakers have the largest and best range for of Kilts for hire in the West of Scotland, with over 130 tartans, 20 styles of super lightweight jackets with three different button options and over 120 ruche tie colour. We also Hire Kilts overseas for special occasions.
(Click on the Photos to Enlarge!)
Many of our customers come to us with the problem,
”We are getting married in England/Europe/Overseas, but we still want to have the Wedding party kitted out in Kilts, can you help?’
The answer is Yes!
Houston Kiltmakers provide hires all over the world for Wedding parties and can ship full kilt hires ready for your big day abroad! Don’t worry if the full party can’t get into the shop to get measured, we have a handy Self-Measurement form that lets you know all the sizes we need and how to get the correct measurements. Once you have these sizes simply send them to us by phone or email and our experienced expert team will check and double check everything matches up!
We have some flexibility on the Length of Hires and return dates if you are taking them abroad, so relax and enjoy your special day!
Another question we are often asked is,
‘Our Wedding is going to be in a warm place with the sun shining, what weight of Kilt would you recommend as the coolest, and what about the jacket?’
In a Kilt outfit the heat is generated by the Jacket, not the weight of a Kilt. We would always recommend 16oz Heavyweight Kilts. These are not any warmer than 11oz or 13oz Kilts and the weight helps them to sit and swing better, making you look your best for your big day!
As it is the Jacket that generates the heat, all our Jackets are Super Lightweight and have been custom designed over many years to create the best fit. They are made from high quality lightweight Barathea wool, meaning they are the coolest jackets around! We are the only Hire company in Scotland that provides these Super Lightweight jackets and as you will be wearing the jacket for most of the day, you’ll want the Jacket that will keep you the coolest!
Houston’s have spent 20 years getting the cut and block of our jackets just right so they sit perfectly on the wearer. Our jackets are also Stain-Proof (and Beer-Proof!), increasing the lifespan of them dramatically!
And remember, we love to see photos from your Wedding with our Kilts on show, so if you want to email us or post on our Facebook page some snaps from your special day we’d love to have a look! You can check out pictures past customers have sent us here!
Highland wear can be a tricky business, especially if you are wearing a kilt for the first time! It’s a whole new experience and we have comprised some top tips to make sure you get everything just right and are dressed to perfection! Houston Kiltmakers want to assist you any way we can, so have a look below at our quick fire guide to dressing like a true Scotsman!
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 the top of 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 as shown by the arrow positioned in the image (below), 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. 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.
Prince Charlie Jacket
10. If you are wearing a shoulder plaid, fasten under your left hand jacket lapel and fasten with plaid brooch onto jacket only.
11. Finally put on your tie, bow, ruche or standard tie.
Wing collar shirt and bow tie
12. 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/
13. To download our brochures and view our buy range please visit www.kiltmakers.comto view our hire range go to www.kiltsforhire.com for any further information or help feel free to contact us by phone +44 141 889 4879
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/