Image by sparkypics via Flickr
One of the main problems I saw was the fact that kilts were being old for £20 or less. Well it doesn’t take a genius to work out that these are not exactly the real deal when a normal kilt can cost anything from £250 upwards. There is a place for all sorts of products in the world but I see a lot more underlying problems with these garments and those like them and I would like to discuss them with you further.
Firstly, I would like to describe an authentic Scottish kilt. As there are many professional kiltmakers in Scotland obviously slight manufacturing differences will exist between them. What I am describing is a “standard” type of traditional Scottish kilt that has been manufactured by tradesmen throughout the centuries. A Scottish kilt is normally made from a minimum of 8 yards of cloth which is usually either a medium weight or a heavy weight cloth. Each pleat is individually stitched so that it remains in position. Each kilt is hand-stitched. This amount of cloth, the cloth weight and the fact that the pleats are stitched in position is where the distinctive “swing of a kilt comes from and distinguishes it from a ladies skirt.
The £20 kilts differ drastically from this. For a start they are made from cloth that you can just about literally spit through. In my opinion (because they never actually say on them) they are made from 5 or 6oz cloth which in itself is rough and badly made. They tale in about 3 yards of cloth and they have very few pleats and the pleats are not very deep. This basically leads them to “swing” like a ladies skirt and the pleats to hang incorrectly.
Secondly, I would like to discuss the fact that all REAL kilts are made to measure. It is nearly physically impossible to get a kilt to fit you off of the peg. People are very different sizes and it takes three measurements to fit you for a kilt. The measurements are waist (around the belly button), hip/seat (around the largest part of the buttock) and length. With these “off the peg” messes there is NO WAY that they will have all of your measurements correct. If the waist is to small people have the tendency to put them down a bit which makes the length wrong and it hangs at the wrong part of your seat. If the waist is too big they will tighten it too much and the front of the kilt will be in the wrong place and the kilt will be “squint”. If the hip of your kilt is wrong your seat will stick out of the back making you look like you have a shelf or it will sag at the back and the back of the kilt will be further down than the front looking very silly. The third measurement is length and I don’t really need to discuss this as if it is too long it looks as if you are to smallfor your kilt and if it is too short it looks like a badly fitting dress.
A hand made Scottish kilt will fit you perfectly and you will be proud to wear a wonderful garment.
All that is left to be said is that if you think that a kilt worth £20 and a kilt worth £300 are of the same quality well then much of what I have said has gone over your head. There is nothing wrong with a £20 kilt if you want to look silly but that is your choice. They are NOT good enough if you wish to wear your national dress to a formal occasion. At these occasions, amongst all the other properly made kilts, yours will look out of place. You may as well wear a “C U Jimmy” hat with it and be done.
If you need a kilt for your wedding or something similar it would be my advice for you to purchase a REAL one but of course the choice is up to you. Don’t be afraid to ask your retailer where your kilt comes from. If it were me I would ask 1) Is this a stock item or will it be made to measure? 2) Where will the kilt be manufactured? 3) Where was the cloth that the kilt will be made from manufactured? 4) How much cloth will go into the making of the kilt? 5) How many pleats will be in the back of the kilt? 6) What are the specifications of the kilt? (buckles, belts etc) 7) How is the kilt pleated? 8) What sett is being used for the cloth and what is the sett size? These are questions that any reasonable retailer will be able to answer and will do so willingly as they have nothing to hide.
I have had many calls of the years form people who have bought inferior kilts. The kilts have either fallen apart or they need something to go with it like a plaid or something similar. We can very rarely match the tartans as the patterns and colours are wrong. If you buy a proper traditional kilt you will be able to mix and match for years to come and you will also be able to hand your kilt down for future generations to use as it will still be good as the day it was made if properly taken care of.
Good luck with your kilt hunting and please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if we can help as we would be pleased to do so. We CAN answer all your questions including those that we have mentioned about anything that we sell.
A h-uile là sona dhuibh ‘s gun là idir dona dhuibh
(May all your days be happy ones)
By: Sreve Dickson
Kilts – From Scotland, Made From Scottish Cloth By Scottish kiltmakers. The real thing, no imitations