Clan Kilt

What distinguishes a clan kilt from a generic kilt?

Basically it's tartan.

Every clan has it's own tartan, from which their kilts are made, in fact most clans will have more than one tartan.

Why more than one tartan? Well they will almost certainly have a dress tartan which would be worn to formal occasions, dinners, weddings, that sort of thing.

And most clans will also have a hunting tartan, which as the name suggests would be used out on the moors as camouflage.

You can also have modern and ancient tartans, which tend to be brighter or muted colours.

So does that mean you have to be a clan member, in order to wear a clan kilt?

The answer to that question is an emphatic no.

In Scotland in fact throughout the world, you can wear any tartan you wish.

Now many traditionalist won't thank me for saying that, but nonetheless its true.

There are no rules let alone laws, governing the wearing of clan tartans, which means of course you are free to choose any tartan you wish.

I would qualify that though by saying that many people would not dream of wearing anything other than their clan tartan.

And this is totally understandable if your family name is associated with a particular clan.

A good example can be seen in the photos below.

The first shows clan leaders getting ready for the kirking'o'the tartan, at the New Hampshire Highland Games.

Clan Kilt

Clan Gathering Photo Alex Cunningham

The next Photo shows the Clan Cunningham International banquet, New Hampshire Highland Games, and as you see the clan tartan is very much on show.

In the very center of the photo, wearing the matching kilt and waistcoat (vest) is Alex Cunningham, who has kindly given his permission for many of his excellent photos to be used throughout this website.

Clan Kilt

Clan Cunningham Photo Alex Cunningham

The final photo shows members of the clan Farquharson wearing their clan tartan.

The Gentleman on the left is a Scottish Armiger, hence the feather in his cap.

Clan Kilts Photo Alex Cunningham

But what to do if your family name has no such association? yet you still want to wear the kilt. My advice, wear it anyway, and wear it with pride as would any clan member.

There are of course tartans, such as district tartans, or generic tartans which are specifically designed for everyone to wear.

There is also one other situation, it's the one I found myself in when I went to buy my first kilt.

And that is, there are many families who have their own tartans, in fact often more than one as my family does, but they are not clans.

They are septs, which are families that have a strong association to a particular clan.

My family name Duncan, for example is a sept of the clan Robertson.

And what that means is although my kilt which is made from the Duncan modern tartan, one of several tartans belonging to my family name, it would not be strictly speaking considered a clan kilt.

So when you go to buy your kilt, if your family name has clan connections then quite naturally you will probably choose one of their tartans.

But even if your family name doesn't have any connection to the clan and you really like their particular tartan, then choose to have your kilt made from that tartan.

And then enjoy wearing it with pride, just as any clan member would do.

So don't forget you don't have to be Scottish or Irish to enjoy wearing the kilt, and you don't have to be a clan member to wear a clan kilt.

If you would like any further clarification on this particular aspect of wearing a kilt, or anything else to do with kilts or their accessories, then please get in touch using the "Contact Us" page.

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