Every country has a national identity. For Scotland, one of our national symbols is the traditional kilt. Kilts are made from hardwearing materials and traditionally feature tartan patterns. But what is a tartan and how did they develop?

A Guide To Tartans

The tartan patterning of traditional kilts has much to do with Scottish clan, or family, heritage. In the 19th century, specific records on tartans began to be recorded more frequently. The symbols and patterns adorned on a kilt were particular to a family or clan and this was a clear way of having a clan identity. It was, and remains, a manner in which families and clans have bonded as they take solace in their common pattern or design. The pattern on a kilt is always arranged vertically and horizontally. The weight of thread used in production affects the size of a single “sett”, which is the block of colour which forms a pattern and repeats. Colours used can very even if the shades are similar, due to the process where the thread is dyed being variable with each batch. A clan may have more than one colouring associated with it, and there is no limit to how many one must have.

Modern And Traditional Tartans

There are four main groups of tartan. An ancient tartan is made to look aged. This is done in order to replicate the vegetable dye which was used in the manufacturing process many years ago. Weathered tartans have a similarity to ancient tartans as they are also made with an old look in mind, but the weathered tartan in particular is designed to look as if it has been affected by the elements rather than the rigours of time. Muted tartans are understated, and more of a homely feel to them, with colours such as olive and dark red. A recent addition to the types of kilts available is the modern kilt. These are more vivid and feature more vibrant colours than traditional kilts. These colours and shades have been made possible due to utilising modern dying techniques and processes. Although kilts are traditionally made from woollen tartan cloth, something to remember about kilts is that they can be made from other materials. Tweed, for example, is another popular alternative to standard kilt materials. Traditionally, kilts are worn at special occasions such as weddings and funerals. However, there are two distinctive types of complete kilt outfit: evening wear and day wear. Evening wear is worn at more formal occasions and features more ornamentation in the tartan patterning and kilt accessories. For everyday use, day wear is used. Day wear kilts are more rugged and plain, as they’re meant to be worn on a daily basis. For the best tailor made and traditional kilts please browse our range at the Scotland Kilt Company today. We have over 100 different tartan variations so you’re sure to find the right clan tartan for you! To learn more about our collection of tartans, please send us an email at sales@thescotlandkiltcompany.co.uk, give us a call on 0131 553 3472 or send us a message via our online contact page.