How to choose a tartan
Some of the questions we are commonly asked here at Highland Kilt Company are “Which tartan do I choose for my kilt based on my name?” and “I don’t have a clan, which kilts are appropriate for me to wear?”. In this post, we’ll explain a bit about tartan backgrounds and options!
If you would like to go with something that ties into your own family history for your kilt, and your last name is common like MacDonald or your Grandmother was a Wallace, then not much research is required. You’ll be able to find those tartans right away using the search function in our upper left corner. If your last name is MacDonald AND your Grandmother was a Wallace, the good news is feel free to choose either tartan for your kilt!
Clans also have what are called Septs, or other family names which fall under them. If you don’t see you Clan via our search or on our Scottish Kilts page, we can look up your (or your ancestors) Scottish surname to see if they fall under another Clan to help determine your tartan. For instance, Robinson is a Sept of the Gunn clan, etc. (For an interesting read as to why that is, here you go: http://skyelander.orgfree.com/gunnsept.html).
If you have several Scottish ancestors, feel free to pick whichever you prefer for your kilt. I have several, including MacGregor, MacKay, and MacLeod, and am a Sept of MacDonald, so I rotate among them often!
Some Scottish clans do not have their own tartan, but rather fall under District tartans like Glasgow District, etc. Many of these can be a bit harder to find ‘off the rack’, but the premise is they are tied to an area, not a name. Some names may have no tartan suggestion at all. But never fear: universal tartans are here!
If you have a harder to find clan tartan, district tartan, or if you prefer to wear a kilt without clan ties, the many universal tartans we carry at Highland Kilt Company will appeal to you. Black Watch (or Government Sett) is a very popular tartan, and other universal tartans include Hunting Stewart, Grey Watch, Brown Watch, Highland Grey, etc. Many people will choose a universal tartan kilt for wedding parties as well to create a uniform look, or as a secondary kilt in addition to their Clan tartan.
Few Irish tartans are tied to family names but are more universal/District based tartans. Tara and Ulster are both good examples of this, with Tara representing the Irish Midlands, and Ulster representing the North of Ireland. Saffron and Solid Green are also excellent historically Irish choices.
Lastly: the most important thing is you choose a tartan you like for your kilt! That is all that matters. We’re here to guide you through that process of purchasing your kilt and selecting your tartan. Contact us today to get started!