All About Kilts

Thursday, September 10, 2009

How to Get a Kilt in 2 Weeks

How to Get a Kilt in 2 Weeks

While out and about on Labor Day weekend, I was asked more often than ususal about my kilt and where I got it from. From what I can gather, the reason for the curious question has everything to do with the upcoming Treasure Valley Highland Games on September 26. Apparently, some people have delayed the kilt purchase until the very last possible minute.

So, I'm offering this post as a Public Service Announcement to help folks find that last minute kilt and to maybe limit the questions I get walking down the street.

The bad news is that hopes of getting a very nice custom fit tartan kilt are pretty much not going to happen in two weeks. It'll have to be off the rack or if there's a degree of customization, it's going to be limited.

It's probably a good idea to check with a Wee Bit O' Scotland on Emerald and see what they have in stock. Last time I was there a few years back, they had some "Great Kilts" in stock, which can look nice if you tie them right.

Here are some of your options in order of cost:

  • Stillwater Kilts: Stillwater kilts has the least expensive kilt out there I've seen. I actually own one of their Thrifty Kilts, which start at around $24.95 in 9 tartans. This should arrive to you easily within a week. They also are an excellent source for accessories. Length on the kilt is 24" standard, so probably not a good choice if you're short.
  • Sport Kilt: Sport Kilt is probably the name in Highland Athletics. They're very popular, though I've never had one myself. Pricewise, they have a huge sliding scale based on size. They have a lot of their kilts off the wrack. However, they offer some customizations that are extra. If you fall into their small or medium range and don't need any customization, this isn't a bad deal. They've got a pretty good tartan selection to boot.
  • The Frugal Corner: They've got an excellent selection of kilts in a variety of tartans for $61, and you can get in-stock Royal Stewart Kilts for $45 on sale. The construction is pretty solid, I own two of these kilts myself. Again, the standard length is 24", so you want to be sure that's not way too long based on your height.
  • King Kilts: Yes, this is my wife's kilt company, in the interest of full disclosure. These are handmade right here in Boise. She could get probably one more kilt done by the Highland Games. However, unless you have tartan fabric on hand, it's going to have to be more readily available plain colored fabric in a neutral color like Black, Green or Gray. We just don't keep tartan in stock, it's too expensive.
  • Amerikilts: Nice company out of Pittsburgh, makes kilts in Black, Khaki, Forest Green, and Olive Green. Their kilts run $98 and generally when I've ordered from them, they've had them out in no time flat. What's nice is that there are three options on length, so this could be a very good option for shorter guys.

So these are the main options if you are in a crunch for a kilt and all of them are under $100, so it works for a budget.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The New Sporran

I wrote yesterday about how to take care of a normal sporran. Basically, a noraml sporran is not made to carry all the junk that a guy who can pack the truck of his car until the lid just barely closes. You should take a minimualist approach to packing your sporran.

What if you want or need more room? Often the option of getting a fanny pack, but never thought it would look. Sports Kilt offers a "Sport Sporran" which is nothing but a fanny pack with their logo on it.

However, in the last few weeks, I found something that was utterly amazing from the folks at Stillwater Kilts, its their Nylon "Night Stalker Sporran". The sporran has the look of a sporran but the convenience of the world's greatest fanny pack. Here's how Stillwater describes it:

This sporran looks good with any contemporary kilt outfit, and its rugged construction will withstand constant use. It is crafted from heavy-duty black ballistic-weave nylon with genuine leather trim.
We naturally kept the classic flap front and three fringed leather tassels (would it be a proper sporran without it?), but now the leather-trimmed flap has an outer zippered compartment for your cash and ID, and it covers a handy front storage pocket that is perfect for your wallet, sunglasses, PDA or passport. Behind that, you will discover a roomy main zippered compartment, with stiff foam padding in the back (so the sporran keeps its shape) and soft foam padding in the front (to protect the contents). The double-pull zipper extends across the top and far down each side, allowing quick and easy access to its contents. No more fishing blindly thru a small top opening! The padded main compartment can hold nearly anything, like a digital camera, or a thick paperback book or portable CD player, or perhaps a good-sized flask, and it's the perfect place to stow your trusty 9-Millimeter!

I bought a Night Stalker and it is just amazing. It's a great way to organize your stuff. The way I've organized mine is that each of the three pocket areas has a purpose.

The flap above the tassels holds small change and my keys. In the front pocket I put commonly used items like ID and my work badge, along with my gas card. In the back compartment, I put all my rarely used credit cards and rarely used discount cards, along with my cell phone if I'm carrying it. I'm holding this sporran and I realize it could carry a lot more. I don't get any kickbacks from Stillwater Kilts for saying this, but I strongly endorse this product. Its a wonderful sporran.

The only real drawback is I think it would have benefited from including a fabric belt with plastic fasteners. The time I tried to wear it with a metal sporran strap was a bit of an ordeal.

Other than that, its a great product. 4 and a half stars on a 5 star scale. By the way, since I'm giving them free advertising anyway, they are also offering a normal leather sporran for $14.95. The sporran is not the greatest looking in the world, but its a nice starter sporran.

The Proper Care of Sporrans

Sporrans are very important if you wear traditional kilts (which for me is all the time except when I'm wearing my Amerikilt) as they don't have pockets. But how do you take care of one?

My second sporrant just fell apart. It lasted quite a bit longer than the last one, but had long since become somewhat of an eyesore in my wardrobe. The beautiful metal celtic knot on the top had fallen off. It was dusty and damged from 2 years of being worn. The final straw was when the leather hook on the back that holds the hooks for the sporran chain came off, the sporran became utterly unwearable.

There are some lessons I've taken from this sporran and my own lessons on how not to care for one. Here are the following tips that will help your sporrans fair better than mine have:

1) Pack the sporran lightly.

One of my great challenges is that I overfilled the sporran. In a sporran at one time, I had a wallet, a checkbook, my car keys, a cell phone, and a camera. Yikes!

A lot of your less expensive sporrans that have tassels on the outside are attached from the inside, so when you overfill the sporran, it causes problems with your tassels. In addition, sporrans were not made to contain 5 pounds of junk. They have a bad habit of malfunctioning when overfull.

Keep your sporran contents simple. The question you should ask yourself when packing it is, "What do I need?" Hint: Most of the things in your wallet aren't on the list.

With my new sporran, I'm travelling light. So what goes in there? Depends on the day of the week. Going to church on Sunday, all I really need is my car keys, debit card (to buy gas after church), one credit card for emergencies, my driver's license, my keys, and my gas discount card. If I'm going somewhere where I might to make a call, I'll pack my cell phone.

If I'm going to work, I need my badge, my driver's license, and my keys. Simplify your life in the sporran and it will last you longer. You can also carry some items inside jacket or shirt pockets.

2) Have a Nice Sporran and a Kick Around Sporran

If you're a full-time kilt wearer, you should have at least 2 sporrans: one for your everyday wearing and one when you want to dress up.

When all I had was one sporran, I looked at the beat-up one I had on and saw how it detracted from the nice shirt, the tie, and a pressed kilt.

You should have one sporran that stays in the closet except when you're really dressing up: meeting someone important, Easter Sunday, etc.

Now, of course, some people have needs that go beyond limited space of traditional sporrans. For them, there's a number of modern kilt options such as Utilikilts. But what if you want to wear a traditional kilt, but don't like the limitations that a traditional sporran could pose.


Sunday, July 02, 2006

A Kilt Coordination Video

This is a nice video made by huge kilt wearer who shows us some very nice kilts and explains how he picks out a kilt and the accessories to go with it. He seems somewhat sheepish about all the thought he puts into coordinating things referring to it as "metrosexual."

Its non-sense. One thing I will say about wearing a kilt is that it does make you think more about the type of look you want to go for and the clothes you put on in the morning, and given how little thought most of us men give to that, that's not entirely a bad thing.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Kilt Isn't For Scots Only, Exhibit #10000

Switzerland now has its own tartan a reminder that kilts aren't just for Scottish people.

I was thinking about this tonight. So many people think you have to have scottish heritage where the kilt. That's simply not the case. Consider that tartans have been commissioned for every Canadian province, American military units, and 7 US States.

Now, what might this suggest. Hmmm. Maybe you don't have to be Scottish to wear the kilt. If all the websites on the Internet don't convince you then hopefully the fact that so many tartans are made for things not scottish will make the case.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

King Kilts 2.0

Wow, we have the King Kilt 2.0 officially out on Ebay, we'll have some more information out on the website tomorrow, but I thought I'd give the patrons of Xmarks, a heads up on the changes.

King Kilts began in January, 2004. Our product line's evolved quite a bit since then. Our focus was more on Fabric Store plaids for first time or curious kilt buyers. We've since moved more towards special order tartans for new kilt wearers and our specialty at this time is multiple kilt orders.

The King Kilt is made as a seamless garment. That differs from some other kiltmakers, who will cut the fabric and then sew the garment together. Because of this to make a 4 yard kilt, it takes 4 yards of fabric. Generally, since the fabric comes as 54 width or 60 width, we've got enough fabric to make a 2nd kilt and we only charge for labor on that.

Here's me in our prototype:

The big change we've made to our kilts over the years involves the closure. We began with a velcro closure as our default. This didn't work as well when you were wanting a nice kilt.

Through a situation where a customer needed buckles and we had a delay in leather straps arriving, we invented a new method of closure using a plain buckle and 1 inch Cotton Belt. This closure works really well and saves the hastle of velcro. Its a nice middle ground for those who like leather buckles, but don't like the cost. The cotton belt also provides a lot of flexability because you can poke the buckle through anywhere on the cotton belt, so there's a lot more flexability as well.

For belt loops, we've introduced those similar to what's on traditional kilts, where you can fold them down and put the belt through without getting in the way of the buckles. These can also be used for hanging the kilt up.

We changed our pleating so that primarily on our kilts, we're doing Deep Pleating, even on the 4 yard kilts as our default. So they'll have larger pleats which can be a lot more comfortable as well as a little easier to care for.

We're offering our first set of kilts on Ebay. You can buy one kilt, get a 2nd for yourself for free, or go in with a friend on it and at $130 per kilt, its a great buy.

Here's the auction

Note: If you're interested in something different than we're offering on ebay like a cotton tartan kilt or a plain kilt, or pockets, then I'd reccomend visiting our website as we offer a lot of customization. If you have any questions, visit the website or e-mail me.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Award Winning Kilt

Cotton Incorporated's Lifestyle Monitor gave an innovation award to 21st Century Kilts for his use of denim. In awarding Howie Nicholsby's company the award, they wrote:

"And while we're not certain about the viability of denim kilts within the borders of the United States, we can certainly applause its derring do."

This is one of those decisions that doesn't make sense. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the product, except for one thing. If you view 21st Century Kilts, its clear you're looking at something Avant Garde. Its fashionable and hip. That's what the site full of young hip models sporting these things tells you. The price tag on the Denim Kilt is $460.87 in US Currency and that's before you add pockets. Of course, the most expensive they offer is more than $2300.

Now, that its expensive doesn't mean that its not a good product. Its just not the type of product that's really hit most consumers well. Its priced so high, its not in a consumer's market, so of course, its not going to catch on. Its a fashion item. A normal sized guy can buy 3 Utilikilts in Denim for that price and Utilikilts have been offering those for years, and started around the time of 21st Century Kilts. Now at $148 pop they have a better shot at catching on.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Best Kilt Accessories

With kilts, you have a lot of accessories that are offered. Many are quite expensive, some are fairly cheap, but which are actually important? Its this question we'll seek to answer.

Clearly, I'm not putting myself out as an expert on putting together Highland Outfits for formal use at Scottish affairs. Rather, I'm writing from the perspective of someone who has regularly worn the garment for 3 years and has a perspective on what it takes to be able to wear the kilt in normal circumstances.

What you need:

1) Sporran: Unless you're wearing an Amerikilt, Utilikilt, or other pocketed kilt, you need something to carry your belongings in, thus the sporran.

In choosing a sporran, I wear a reasonable looking non-ostentatious number. Generally, a plain black or for special occasion I have a Scottish Flag Sporran using a small amount of goat hair. Maybe, its just a manner of taste, but those that have hair that hangs down to the edge of the kilt are somewhat distasteful, plus hard to manage in real life situations such as getting in and out of cars. In short, keep it simple. That's also one way to have a sporran inexpensively. There are many budget sporrans out there that with a little digging on Ebay, you can find for $25 (sometimes less).

2) Kilt Hose: Unless you have a bad wool reaction, Kilt hose can be one of the most comfortable and useful parts of wearing a kilt. Kilt Hose are good for circulation and keep you warm during the Winter. I'd reccomend kilt hose for winter wear even to those who don't wear kilts.

Its also a nice extra touch for those who are sensitive about the appearance of their legs. With kilt hose, you don't have to worry because all that will be showing is your knee area.

If you're workplace has a more business casual dress code, I think kilt hose go a long way towards making your outfit look professional and smart. There are a couple substitute for kilt hose you can try. You could try over the calf dress socks which can work very well and also improve circulation.

For gentlemen of larger girth, I'd reccomend avoiding Nylon Over the Calf socks and instead getting a Nylon-Lycra blend. The former will not budget and if your leg is too big, you've got at best ankle socks, as they can't comfortably go up your leg. The blend will stretch to fit comfortably.

3) Flashes: These are garters, general made of elastic that hold the socks up. Very important if you opt for kilt hose.

Semi-Important Optional Accessories

1) Kilt Pin

-This can give your kilt a more authentic look as well as help hold the front apron down during a breeze. One big tip is not to skimp on these. You should be able to get a decent kilt pin of decent weight for less than $20. Watch Ebay for these, I got one in my family's clan at a bargain.

2) Jacket

Very important if you're going to wear the kilt formally. From my experience, suit jackets or sport jackets simply don't look right with the kilt. They're far too long. Some options I've heard include trying to find a short tuxedo jacket in your size and use that. What I've done is kept an eye on E-bay and picked up an inexpensive jacket from a respect seller. That's generally going to be your best option.

3) Kilt Belt

This one is actually a pretty nice feature if you have an actual 8 yard kilt. It effectively holds up the kilt where a normal belt won't. It can help on a kilt that weighs 7 pounds like my 8-yarder does. Its probably not necessary if you've got a Bear Kilt or some lighter casual. Then again it may be if you buy an off the rack kilt that's not an exact fit. Generally these are avaialble on Ebay for less than $40.

Nice if You Can Get It

1) Jacobite Shirt

Looks real nice, and generally they aren't that expensive (around $40 and up) but aren't really necessary except at the most formal of Scottish occassion. Still, they look nice.

Only for Scottish Formal Wear:

1) Ghillie Brogues:

Fancy Scottish dress shoes. Most people don't look at your feet, so outside of ethnic occassions, you don't really need them.

2) Sgian Dubh

A dagger you stick in the Kilt Hose. Again, not something you're going to need outside of Scottish formal wear.

The big thing to remember when accessorizing a kilt is that 90 +% of the population has no clue on what its "supposed to look like." So you can follow the rule of just wearing something that fits the occassion and the way everyone else is dressing. For example, if your office is generally business casual, put on a nice collared shirt that matches your kilt and you'll be business casual.

Finally, get what you want. If you like any of the optional stuff or stuff that I don't think is important except for Scottish wear, still go ahead and buy it. Its your kilt, its your outfit, buy the things you'd like. Just don't let a salesman talk into buying accessories you don't need and don't really want.