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Everything You Wanted to Know About Wearing a Kilt


Editor's Note: Last November we had the pleasure of spending 10 captivating days in Scotland. Below is but one adventure of many from our stay. We hope the joy we experienced comes through in all our posts and missives from our adventure, which no doubt read better with a wee dram in hand.
Spend ten days in Scotland and you learn a lot about kilts. First off, they are a helluva lot of fun to wear for a variety of reasons, including:
The House of Edgar is synonymous with quality kilt-making the world over and we were surprised to learn that they produce at least 80 kilts per week.
" Because it's not just wearing a kilt, it's wearing a sacred national costume!
" Wearing a kilt is not just buckling on a woolen pleated tartan item; it also includes donning a belt, a specially designed jacket, sporran (a pouch worn on a strap that sits right around the family jewels area-useful since kilts have no pockets), kilt socks, shoes, garter ties, and finally, a kilt pin. The whole outfit is called Highland Dress.
" When you wear one in Scotland nobody looks at you funny. Unless you are wearing it incorrectly. (Hint: the pleats go in the back)
To learn more about all things kilt related, we visited the Macnaughton, a once small family business that started more than 230 years ago on the banks of Loch Tay (located in the central Highlands of Scotland) that is now a holding company for various fabric producers, including The House of Edgar.
If you didn't already know, the House of Edgar is now the world's largest manufacturer of traditional Scottish kilts. They not only supply the global highland-wear market, but they also kit-out numerous pipe bands and corporate entities. In short, The House of Edgar is synonymous with quality kilt making the world over and we were surprised to learn that they produce at least 80 kilts per week. Don't you feel frightfully unfashionable now?

If you ever wondered how Scotland became the only country to buckle into a kilt we did some research for you:
" Originally, kilts were only worn in the Scottish Highlands, not in central or southern Scotland.
" The word "kilt" comes from the old Norse word, "kjilt" which translates to "pleated." When kilts first came on the scene in the 16th century, they looked much different from what we see today.
" Originally, the kilt was known as a feileadh mhór (philamore) or "big wrap." This was a thick woolen cloth that stretched across the body and was entirely untailored. This original version of the kilt was extremely versatile thanks to its inherent cloth-like nature. It could be worn over the head in colder weathers and was even said to be used as a camping blanket!
" In later years, following the British Government's ban against kilts and bagpipes, the kilt evolved again. The feileadh mhór became the feileadh bag (philabeg) or "little wrap," which is not dissimilar to the kilt we see today.
" While the kilt used to be reserved for special occasions, formal dress, and weddings, we spotted kilts being worn on a daily basis-from hotel staff to young guys out for a drink. Hell, it has even become a required uniform for Scotland's Tartan Army soccer team and the wearing of one is enthusiastically encouraged for the team's fans

We met with Bill Wheelan from the Macnaughton team and asked some basic questions to help guide you in the right direction for when the time comes for you to add a kilt to your closet:
First off, why was the kilt banned in the 18th century?
In August 1747, following the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 1745 rebellion, the British Government banned the wearing of kilts. This was an attempt to suppress highland identity and came hand-in-hand with the banning of bagpipes which were seen as an instrument of war.
During this ban, the only people who were legally permitted to wear kilts were military pipers - and they could only wear a kilt in their military tartan.
"No man or boy within that part of Great Britain called Scotland, other than such as shall be employed as officers and soldiers in His Majesty's Forces, shall… wear or put on the clothes commonly called Highland Clothes" This ban remained in place until 1783.

How much does a typical kilt cost?
While you can have them made by a tailor, off the rack they run around $400-500, plus all accessories. We enjoy doing bespoke kilts for various companies around the world as well. They are great to mark a special occasion or anniversary.
How much fabric does it take to make a kilt?
To make a standard kilt you will need 7.4 meters, which is 8 yards.
Where should a kilt sit on your waist?
Two fingers above belly button.
Originally, tartan colors came from the fauna of your region, so people knew where you were from by the colors you wore.
Where should a kilt fall on the leg?
Center of the knee.
The question every American wants to know the answer to, what do you wear under a kilt?
It is certainly a tradition that no under-garments are worn beneath the kilt but now-a-days it really is just a personal choice for the wearer rather than any strict dressing instruction!
What is the difference between tartan and plaid?
Tartan is registered, while plaid has no back story. Originally, tartan colors came from the fauna of your region, so people knew where you were from by the colors you wore.
Who is buying kilts these days?
Tartan is a steady rock. It's the most recognized dress in the world. Kilts are really popular with the young kids, now both guys and girls. Apparently you can snag a lady easier!

A New Tartan For the Silent Service, January 2017


The Royal Navy's Submarine service reinforced its links to Scotland today, with the launch of its new official tartan designed and woven exclusively by The House of Edgar.
The tartan was commissioned to celebrate these links, stretching back more than 100 years, when some of the Royal Navy's earliest submarines were built on the Clyde before undertaking sea trials on the Gareloch near Helensburgh. Designed in 1913, these K-Class boats were propelled by both steam and diesel, and could operate at speeds up to 24 knots, crewed by 6 officers and 53 men. Of the 18 boats built, none were lost to enemy action, although 6 went down due to accident, mishap and collision.
Through both World wars and the Cold War that followed, Rosyth and the Clyde played host to generations of the brave volunteers of the Silent Service, and the ties that bind are indeed tight. From 2022, all the Royal Navy's submarines will be based in Scotland, with the Clyde's base increasing to 8,500 as a result.
Launching the new tartan, Submariner Warrant Officer 1 Stephen Thomson said, "The colour scheme of the tartan has been designed to represent the dark green of the submarines' environment; the Navy blue, red and white naturally represent the colours of the Royal Navy, while the yellow represents the coveted golden "Dolphin's badge, worn with pride by all qualified submariners."

House of Edgar designer Trudie Ainsworth said, "it was a lovely project to be part of, and a real honour for us to be associated with so many brave men and women." She continued, "I grew up close to Faslane and often saw the submarines going on patrol. I never imagined that one day I would design the tartan they would wear. It makes me very proud."

The Royal Navy Submarine Service tartan has been registered with The Scottish Register of Tartans, and has registration number 11,556 and may be worn by all submariners, both serving and retired

New Shanghai Showroom 17th June, 2016



The opening this week of its new showroom in Shanghai, provides Perth based Macnaughton Holdings, with an exciting opportunity to develop its growing market in China. In association with the locally based interiors expert, Shanghai Home Expo Company, the new showroom showcases Macnaughton's Isle Mill brand of both classic and contemporary wool upholsteries and window fabrics.

"We first met Shanghai Home Expo in 2015, when they visited us at the prestigious interiors and lifestyle exhibition, Maison & Objet in Paris," said Bill Wheelan, the company's Sales Director. "We initially sent them a number of our pattern books, and over the coming months, they sampled a variety of our products. Having established the market for the Isle Mill's products in China, they approached us with the showroom proposal, which will see our fabrics displayed alongside many of Europe's top designer brands."



He continued "The showroom formally opened last night with a grand party, and we now look forward to seeing some nice growth in this fast developing market"

The company, originally founded at the end of the eighteenth century on the banks of Loch Tay, is one of Scotland's oldest textile companies, and remains in the hands of the seventh generation of the founding family. Headquartered in Perth, and employing almost 70 staff at its three sites around Scotland, Macnaughton has bucked the recent trend that has seen many Scottish textile jobs disappear, by concentrating on niche markets with an emphasis on exports.



Queen’s Birthday Honours List



The company is pleased to announce that managing director Blair Macnaughton, has been awarded an M.B.E in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to tartan weaving and kilt making in Scotland.
Blair said "It’s obviously a huge honour to be recognized in this way, not only for my family and I, but also for my entire staff, who have helped me in establishing The House of Edgar, as Scotland’s leading highland wear manufacturer."
He continued, "We now stock support nearly 1000 tartans, and are widely seen as the market leader in the sector. It is only through constant innovation and the dedication of our skilled team that we have established our reputation in the market."

Shotts and Dykehead Pipe Band

After 10 years, Macnaughton Holdings Ltd has announced the end of its sponsorship agreement with The Shotts and Dykehead Pipeband with effect from the end of April 2013.

During the period of sponsorship, Shotts won more than 34 championship titles, including the World Championships for the Band as a whole and the Drum Corps separately. Although World Championship titles have been somewhat harder to win in the last few years while the band has been undergoing a number of changes in key personnel, the recent appointment of Ryan Canning as Pipe Major has once again seen the Shotts returning to its musical best.

In announcing the end of the agreement, Blair Macnaughton, Managing Director of the Sponsor said:

"We at the House of Edgar have thoroughly enjoyed our association with the Band over the last 10 years. It has been a totally symbiotic relation, with Edgar representing the very best of Scottish manufactured highlandwear, and the Shotts representing the best of Scottish music. We wish Band all the very best for the forthcoming competition season, under the new leadership of Ryan Canning."

Sandy Bell, Chairman of the Band said:

"We would like to thank the House of Edgar for its sponsorship and support since 2003. We have been proud to wear their uniforms and bear their name, and it has been nice to be associated with one of Scotland's oldest family companies."

Isle Mill Fabrics Used as Centre Piece of Harrods Jubilee Windows



We were delighted that the famous Knightsbridge store Harrods, chose some Isle Mill fabric to form the centre piece of one of its Jubilee windows. The mixed theme window featured a table cloth in the fabric Sloane Walk from the recently launched Sloane Square Collection, in colour Sand.

It may be of interest to note that the Macnaughton family started manufacturing textiles during the reign of George III, Queen Elizabeth's Great Great Great Great Grandfather.

Visit the Sloane Square section of our Isle Mill Website.

Harrods Windows
Launch of the Red Hackle Tartan
Launch of The Red Hackle Tartan
For centuries the iconic scarlet plumes of the Red Hackle have inspired generations of Scotland’s Black Watch soldiers both on and off the battlefield. Now the spirit and glory of the distinctive head-dress of the world’s most famous regiment is to be embodied in a brand new tartan bearing its name.

The Red Hackle Tartan was launched on January 5th, Red Hackle Day, at a special unveiling at the regiment’s Balhousie Castle museum in Perth. Designed by The House of Edgar, the new tartan features the instantly recognisable dark colours of the famous regimental tartan, with a series of overchecks in two shades of red, signifying the Red Hackle.

Blair Macnaughton, managing director of Macnaughton Holdings, said

“I have been wanting to create a Red Hackle tartan for several years and we’re all delighted with the final result. I feel sure the Red Hackle Tartan will have widespread popular appeal not only to those connected with The Black Watch – past or present – but also to the general public who have no allegiance to any clan tartan.”



He continued,

“The new tartan has already proved popular with our retailers within Scotland, and it will be available in a wide range of merchadise, including scarves, ties, kilts, trews and waistcoats, as well as fabric in a variety of weights.”



Launch of the Red Hackle Tartan
Red Hackle Final Choice The final tartan was chosen from a number of designs submitted to members of the Black Watch Heritage Trust for approval.

Assistant Regimental Secretary Major Ronnie Proctor praised the design and said it had already won the approval among the old soldiers of the Black Watch Association that he had shown it to.

The Red Hackle is something that Black Watch soldiers have always been proud to wear, and they will be equally proud to wear the new tartan as I hope many others will.”

He continued

“The House of Edgar is to be congratulated on designing a tartan that is both true to the traditional Black Watch roots and the spirit of the scarlet plume.”

A proportion of the sales of the new tartan will be donated to The Black Watch Heritage Appeal – set up to secure the museum and its collection for the benefit of future generations.


Alfie Iannetta, chief executive of The Black Watch Museum Trust, said the donation from the sale of the new tartan was a creative and innovative way to raise both funds for the Appeal and the profile of the museum.

“The Red Hackle tartan will feature on a range of merchandise available across the world and through our own museum and online shops,” he said.

“It’s a great looking tartan and I’m confident it will endure for generations.”


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