Are there any tartans that I should not wear?

Some tartans just shouldn’t be worn, either because;

  1. They are over-used (I’ve seen the Royal Stewart tartan used on everything from biscuit-tins to underwear.) or
  2. Because they are someone’s personal property such as the ‘Balmoral’ tartan. Designed by HRH the Prince Consort, it is reserved for the sole use of the Royal Family,

There are some other considerations. There is nothing to prevent you wearing the RCMP tartan, but if you aren’t a current or retired member of the force, you are going to spend an awful lot of time walking backwards while explaining why you are wearing it.

Kilts may be pleated ‘to the stripe’ or ‘to the sett’.

‘Pleating to the stripe’ means that the pleats are folded so that one particular line is centred on every pleat. Most military and band kilts are made this way – only because it’s simpler and faster to sew a kilt this way.

faqs-1 Both of these kilts are of the MacKenzie tartan. The one on the left is of 20-oz cloth, pleated to the stripe. The kilt on the right is of 11-oz cloth pleated to the sett. The sett appears larger in the heavy-weight cloth because it is woven from thicker yarn. Although 11-oz cloth is generally regarded as being too light for a kilt, it is the preferred weight for wear in the tropics.

“Pleating to the sett’ means that the pleats are folded in such a way that the design (sett) of the tartan continues across the back of the kilt.

Some people will try to tell you that kilts pleated to the stripe should only be worn by the military or bandsmen, and that kilts pleated to the sett are ‘civilian’ kilts.

Not so. Some tartans look better pleated to the sett, and others don’t. The choice is entirely up to you.

Having said that, the Seaforth Highlanders wear the MacKenzie tartan pleated to the stripe. A MacKenzie kilt pleated the same way would look like Army surplus, no matter how beautifully-cut it was – particularly in Vancouver, where the Seaforth Highlanders are garrisoned.

In this case, if a customer wanted a MacKenzie kilt but had no connection to the Regiment I would strongly urge him to have the kilt pleated to the sett and not the stripe