The Latest in Kilt Fashion

This sounds like a contradiction in terms, but there really are a few new things in the kilt world. As a kiltmaker, people ask me if I’ve seen all kinds of things (some of which I end up wishing I had never seen) and then of course the next question, “Can you make me one?”

One trend, not exactly new, has been the design and production of dress tartans in brighter and brighter colors. Forty or fifty years ago, Highland dancers wore more clan tartans, and frequently opted for the brighter ones , such as Dress MacLeod. If you haven’t seen Dress MacLeod, think of a bumblebee–yellow and black. Then manufacturers got the idea of making much brighter tartans for dancers, like “dress” tartans except that the colors had little to do with the original clan colors. The best known of these is D.C. Dalgliesh, who make over 90 dress tartans in the 11 oz. weight. I have made hundreds of kilts from these tartans, and have always enjoyed seeing the girls and boys dancing in some really eye-catching colors. Red, royal blue, emerald green, and purple (in that order) are my most-requested colors for dancers. Then, a few years back, someone came out with a turquoise dress tartan, Dress Turquoise Lennox. Suddenly turquoise was the new black ( black, particularly for jackets, has always been popular too) and everyone hurried to get a turquoise kilt. Now there are a dozen different turquoise tartans, and dance moms everywhere are looking for something “different”. The most recent trends include fuchsia, yellow, and, most recent of all, lime green. These are not for everyone, but on the right girl, they could all look nice. Certainly Highland Dancing is part competition, part show, and how a dancer presents him or herself has an effect on the outcome. Traditionalists may look down their noses, but I think that this is a good thing. If you’ve ever seen Irish dancers, Highland outfits look VERY conservative and formal in comparison. So, I don’t think that the trend for brighter and brighter colors is necessarily a bad thing.

Another trend is that more and more customers are asking for box-pleated kilts. These kilts actually resemble the kilts that were made before the knife-pleated, closely tailored kilt that we see today. They have fewer, but wider box pleats, like the inverted pleat that a regular kilt has on the wearer’s right side. There are also variations of these involving double box pleats, which look very nice, but (of course) use more fabric and take more time to make. One of the advantages of a box-pleated kilt is that it only uses 2 to 2 1/2 yds of double width fabric, rather than 4 yards double width. Another feature that many customers like is that the kilt is nowhere near as heavy as a traditional kilt. If you want a casual kilt for hiking, hanging out, or for warm weather wear, this might be something to consider.

So, back to work. I have more than my usual November workload, and it all needs to be done before the holidays. People will be arriving next Wednesday for Thanksgiving, and I have to be ready for them!

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