I just realized that January marks my fourth year wearing a kilt on a regular basis. To some of you, that still makes me a “newbie.” (I know quite a few who have been constantly kilted for 10 years and more.) When I decided to go “A Year In A Kilt” in 2012 I intended to start in April on my birthday but the anticipation got the best of me and I ended up “unofficially” starting on January 1. At the time, my only kilts were two from SportKilt and a utility kilt from AmeriKilt. I wore the utility kilt most of the time because I was still quite self-conscious about being in a kilt and I thought the tartans called way too much attention to themselves. I also frequently wore “longjohns” under my kilt. It was a cold winter but mostly I did it because I was still trying to transition out of pants. Today that outfit would feel very strange but it seemed to work for me then.
I’ve purchased many more kilts since my journey started and currently have over 30. I rarely wear utility kilts anymore and I’m now at a point where I’m hoping to gradually move out of acrylic kilts and wear mostly wool. That might take awhile since most of my kilts are acrylic and didn’t have the price tag of a 100% wool kilt.
I’ve noticed that, even with 30+ tartans in my closet, I tend to come back to the same few tartans over and over. These have become my favorites for whatever reason and I thought I’d take a little time to talk about some of the tartans I own and how I feel about them.
WALLACE: This is a family tartan and it’s in first or second place for the tartan I wear most often. I have it in wool, acrylic and also a couple of utility kilts. I even have a Wallace Hunting tartan SportKilt. The Wallace tartan is the kilt that I get the most comments from when I wear it in public. The red in it definitely gets attention. When I wear my Wallace, I feel bold and if I was going into a conflict or wanted to be the center of attention, I would choose my Wallace.
MACDONALD: My other family tartan is the MacDonald and I wear it as much, if not more, than the Wallace. I think it’s the most versatile tartan. It looks great casually or formal. The colors are muted enough that they don’t shout at you as loud as the Wallace, yet they are rich and interesting and feel classically Scottish. I have this tartan in wool, several acrylics and a couple utility kilts. I would wear the MacDonald tartan to a business meeting or to a pub. I even wore it formally in my wedding. MacDonald makes me feel in touch with my ancestry.
IRISH NATIONAL: A large part of my heritage is Irish so, of course, I had to acquire an Irish tartan. The Irish National is like blue jeans. I can wear it in the most casual of occasions. It’s the tartan I wear when I just want to kick back and be a regular guy. I feel very grounded in it and at times feel more like I’m wearing a pair of pants than a kilt. I accidentally brushed up against some wet paint once while I was wearing a brand new Irish National, so that kilt became a work kilt. Not a bad thing at all to spend my work days in the Irish National. I tend to wear this tartan more in the spring and summer. Seems to fit in better then.
ROYAL STEWART: I wear this tartan frequently. It’s a popular tartan pattern so it keeps me reminded I’m wearing a kilt. I want to say it’s my most “friendly” tartan but I’m not exactly sure what that means.
STEWART BLACK: A great tartan when I don’t want to stand out in public too much. Perfect when I want to dress dark. Lots of black and just enough color to let me know it’s a kilt.
MACKENZIE: Two or three years ago I was developing a comedy stage show with a character named MacKenzie and I felt it would be necessary for the character to wear his authentic clan tartan. So I purchased a MacKenzie. I never finished developing the show but I was happy to add the tartan to my collection. The MacKenzie is an elegant looking tartan that looks great with anything and particularly formal attire. I don’t wear it as much as my own family tartans but I find myself grabbing it from the closet on a fairly regular basis.
HERITAGE OF SCOTLAND: This non-clan tartan is also one of my favorites. The purple and blue colors make it a great choice for winter wearing and my acrylic/wool blend kilt is one of the most comfortable kilts I own.
MACMILLAN: As far as I know I have no collection to the MacMillan clan but I purchased this kilt at a Highland Festival, and only because it was the last kilt they had left in my size. Today, it’s one of my favorite kilts for comfort and style. The earth-tone colors make it perfect for Ren fairs and Highland games and I love wearing it in the autumn to showcase it’s fall-like colors. It’s a gorgeous kilt and I like it so much I use a photo of me in it on my business cards.
BLACK WATCH: I’ll wear my Black Watch tartan when I feel the most serious. It always seems very formal to me and a bit intimidating. I feel like I should be representing something larger than me. I don’t wear the Black Watch often but it’s a grand and good-looking kilt.
Well, those are a few of my favorites. I have others but these tartans always seem to rise to the top of my list of favorites and I return to them again and again. How about you? Which is your favorite tartan?