Dressed to the Kilt
Yes, you read that right, Kilts are back!!
Personally I love all things tartan so I was delighted to read/watch this week’s ‘How To Wear It’ column in the Guardian in which fashion editor JCM extolls the virtues of kilts. I will be channeling Alexander McQueen and Cher from Clueless with this one! Tartan is so good for autumn and so you can imagine how delighted I was to come across this splendid example of a genuine kilt in my favourite colour for this season – oxblood. This came from the Trinity House Hospice Shop in Streatham and I parted with £8 for this 100% wool ‘Made in Scotland’ number.
It’s actually somewhere between oxblood and aubergine with bottle green squares and a slight blue/purple stripe. Much research on the website tartan.gov.uk has led me to believe that this is the tartan for ‘Lindsay’, but please correct me if you know better.
Now, in her Kilts column, JCM recommends following Chanel’s adage about always removing one item from your outfit before you leave the house in order to look chic. For best effect, she suggests choosing two of the following: pleats, buckles and tartan. I’m actually going to remove two Kilt-features from my one – the kilt pin and the frayed blanket edge – but that means I will be left with all three of her criteria, sorry JCM!
After sticky-rollering the whole thing for cat hair, removing the blanket edge was actually rather easy. It’s actually just the edge of the fabric folded under so the frayed edge falls at the fold, then topstitched. I removed the topstitching, cut it off, and redid the topstitching in oxblood rather than green.
The kilt pin was easy to remove but it did leave big holes in the fabric. Thankfully, the holes were in the bottom third of the length, which I cut off.
The hard part was figuring out a way to hem this thing. When kilts are made, they are sewn up, the hems are sewn and then the whole thing is pleated by machine. If I had tried to turn under a hem and press it up, the folds on the hemmed part would have been the opposite way to the folds on the skirt. The whole thing would have looked ugly, stopping the pleats from closing as they should. My alternative method was to simply overlock the edge of the skirt in a co-ordinating colour and leave it hanging free. I think it looks reasonable like this – you can hardly see it from a few feet away. The pleats fold nicely!
To complete this outfit I picked up a chunky cable knit sweater in a very similar colour to the kilt at the British Red Cross shop in Lewisham. This is acrylic but it feels lovely and soft, I don’t think it’s been worn much. It’s a H&M size 16, so a little on the big side, so I am wearing it loose. With the roll neck I have to be a little careful – in combination with my glasses I look like Velma from Scooby Doo – but it rounds off the kilt outfit nicely.
Here are some photos of the outfit in action. Unfortunately we couldn’t quite make it as far as Scotland to take pictures! My home town sits on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors so the pictures were taken there instead. It’s a dead ringer for Scotland (only nicer ;-) ).
What lovely pictures, you look stunning! That last one could be a Burberry ad campaign!
I’ve been on the hunt for tartan wool fabric to make a pleated skirt, never even thought about charity shops, but there must be lots in there. Off to Bournemouth this weekend so will have a hunt.
(Though I have to disagree that Yorkshire is better than bonnie Scotland!)
HAHA I am practicing my best ‘catalogue’ poses!!!
Thanks for the comment Kathryn, we are really trying harder to get better pictures for this blog and although it takes longer I’m delighted with the results.
Yep, there are kilts to be found but my advice would be to try it on, as the side seams would be difficult to adjust. This one fit well enough round the waist, which was lucky, though I had to have the buckles on the tightest setting.
We’ll have to argue about Yorkshire vs Scotland when I see you next ;-)
Beautiful job and cracking photos! Loving seeing this in pictures after discussing it with you. I think the hem looks just fine like that and you don’t even notice it in the pictures. Can’t wait to make up some tartan for this season!
Hi Clare, thanks for being a sounding board! I am satisfied with the hem after a great deal of thought… I don’t think it’s something a non-sewist would pay any attention to. Can’t wait to see what you make out of tartan!
Ooh what beautiful colours – looks fab with that oxblood jumper in particular!
Thank you, I think it’s a great combination!
Beatuful surrounding! and the kilt as well :-) Good job!
Thank you so much for commenting!
Very nicely styled! Great photographs and scenery
Thanks, Erica! :)
LOVE the outfit! You cracked me up with the scooby doo comment. great alterations to the skirt! Glad to hear kilts are “in”, I have a version of one in my closet that I have had for YEARS! (though it isn’t in the traditional red/green/blue colors) I will have to get that baby out; though I do need to find a nice sweater like you did to pair with it.
Yep, kilts are back! As soon as I see a red leaf I always get the urge to buy/make loads of tartan things, it’s so perfect for autumn. Thanks for your support.
I LOVE the sweater with the kilt. Very vintage 90s, but in the best way possible. All snuggly looking. I feel a sudden urge to go thrift shopping for kilts!
Yeah, fashion from the 90s is now ‘vintage’… boy do I feel old. I love everything about 90s fashion, especially grunge!! (which may surprise you) Thank you for the comment.
Stunning! I adore the new kilt paired with the sweater. Looks so cozy for autumn. Excellent job!
Thank you Carissa, unfortunately I wasn’t in time for the Refashion Runway sew along… never mind!
Beautiful! You made the skirt, er.. kilt look much more on trend now, and I love how you styled it with the sweater and necklace. Oh, and the location of your photo shoot is gorgeous! I hope to travel across the pond some day! Cheers!
Thank you for the comment, Dee. Yes, England is beautiful, you should definitely visit if you can!
You are right it is Lyndsay tartan, it is a lovely tartan and along with Black Watch (dark green / navy) became very popular in 1990s for skirts, trousers and ladies kilts. You have done a good job of shortening it, and of ‘dressing it’ and modelling it. The Yorkshire countryside would easily pass for Scotland! I enjoy your posts very much, thank you. Sine Robertson
Thank you for the comment Sine, I am so glad you are enjoying reading. You’re right that black watch tartan was/is very popular for ladieswear because of its toned-down colour palette. Vivienne Westwood still loves it and so do I!
Bang up job as usual! I’ve got to add how pretty your nails look!
Thanks JJ… it’s Essie ‘fishnet stockings’ again… my current favourite!
Aah don’t you look pretty! Good work with your kilt. I agree that the overlocking was the sensible answer. Good work!
Hi Amy! Yep, I wasn’t going to spend time un-pleating and re-pleating the bottom 1cm of fabric for a likely poor result, good decision I think!
I’ve found lots of lovely kilts in thrift stores here in New York state; on average I pay about $4 each. I think people visit Scotland or Ireland and buy them as tourist items, then discard them after a wearing or two back home. I’ve bought some to wear and others just for the tons of lovely fabric. If I remove the waistband and hem and press out the pleats, it’s usually at least 2 yards of beautiful wool. I’ve priced authentic wool tartan–it’s incredibly expensive.
Hello Marsha, thanks for the comment. Authentic Scottish wool tartan is really expensive as it is a traditional, handmade, heritage product, and rightly so! Such a shame that people don’t feel they can wear their kilts when they get home. I haven’t found a way of successfully getting rid of the pleats despite a lot of ironing/steaming/washing/hanging. But maybe I will give it another go.
Oooh those colours are lovely together – deep delicious jewel tones – glorious! X
Thank you so much! :)
Great job on the kilt! I used to wear one as a cheerleader in high school since our mascot was a highlander. I have a soft spot for tartans. I love the photos, both you and the scenery look beautiful. My favorite styling is with the sweater…it looks great!
Thank you for commenting, Susan! Finding that sweater was definitely a stroke of luck.
Just lovely, both the outfit and the scenery! That looks like the Hole of Horcum behind you, I was there a few weeks ago! Love that oxblood colour, it is divine, so rich and cosy looking!
Hi Claire, you are absolutely right, that is the Hole of Horcum, between Pickering and Whitby, a beautiful spot.
Lovely lovely pictures! I can almost feel the chill in the air.
I adore tartan, kilts etc… however they look a little out of place at the beach!
HAHA yes this sort of thing isn’t really suitable for Aussie weather ;-) I do love autumn here. It’s just starting to get chilly – crisp, cold mornings are wonderful…
Oo, where in Yorkshire is this? It looks like Nidderdale, near where my parents live! Love the kilt conversion by the way, I’m a big fan of tartan.
Hello, the eagle eyed commenter above got it right – it’s the Hole of Horcum, between Pickering and Whitby. I’m a huge tartan fan too! If only there were more tartan garments in the charity shops…
You look totally adorable in the jumper and kilt! I have long been a fan of kilts and wore them a lot as a child in England – not so useful in Western Australia ;)
Yep, maybe a tartan printed cotton would be better for your climate?! I don’t feel too sorry for you with your round the year sunshine though :)
These pictures are beautiful. It does look an awful lot like Scotland. Your kilt looks very nice and I think you’re right, most people who don’t sew don’t even notice things like an overlocked edge.
I have been reading your blog for a year or so now and really enjoy it. You have so much talent. Your refashioned things are so much more professional and creative than what I usually see.
Hello Deanna, The heather does make it look a lot like Scotland, it’s beautiful! Thanks for your kind comment, I am so glad you are enjoying reading. Stay tuned for some more autumnal makes coming up.
Really, really nice – and you don’t look one bit like Velma :) Truly beautiful.
Ha, thank you Jenny! :)
The colours in the tartan are beautiful not too traditional which mades it look really modern. I need to find some oxblood fabric stat! Of all the Scooby Doo characters Velma is the best anyway ;)
Hi Amy! Sometimes the more traditional red tartans can be a bit ‘in your face’ but this dark red one is lovely. Does it get cold enough for autumnal dressing where you are, I wonder? And you’re right, Velma is the smart one, so that’s no bad thing :)
Oooooh, kilts ARE back and yours is lovely! Just in time for autumn.
Forgot to add that the countryside is absolutely breathtaking!!! I may have to just pop by and visit soon. ;)
Yes you should! England has some absolutely beautiful places.
Thanks! Glad you liked it.
The shorter length is an improvement although I’d have been tempted to play with trim on the bottom edge – a little red or green lace perhaps or a slim velvet ribbon. On the subject of pleats, I found something on a historical costuming blog that stuck in my head – apparently if you spritz your fabric with a vinegar/water solution (the ratios vary in the articles I’ve read from 1:2 to 1:10) then press it, the pleats stay in crisp and sharp. I thought it was worth mentioning as you discussed the pleating problem in your post.
Hello Lex, thanks for commenting. I wanted to keep it simple this time to leave room for some fun with the styling. Any trim would have to have had pleats pressed into it which would have been tricky, especially with something like velvet. Lace might have been possible but that would have taken it too close to the red skirt I posted last week. Also pleated lace, since it would overlap itself, the pattern would be a bit lost, I am not sure how that would work… still it’s an interesting idea. Thank you for the tip on the vinegar/water, I may have to try that!
Beautiful pics and a great outfit! :)
Thank you Tabea!
Nicer than Scotland,ha! Lovely kilt makeover tho,I’ve done a few kilt remakes but only using the material for other things tho,never remaking to clothing!
Haha I thought there may be some angry Scots out there!! Thanks for reading :)
Yay!! You’ll have to wear this when you come visit me in Scotland :-)
I will Debi, I will! Though I think wearing tartan while doing my favourite Scottish activities – drinking whisky and eating haggis, neeps and tatties – may be Scotland overkill :)
kilt for sale when it comes to the real sale i prefer this one only