It can be very difficult to choose a tartan for your kilt. So, we thought we would create our very own “What Tartan Can I wear?” guide. It can be a daunting experience choosing a tartan, especially if this is your first kilt. We are here to help! If at the end of the article, you are still confused or indecisive, reach out to us by email and we will advise you further. We are here to help!
So, first off, we will answer the question of which tartan am I entitled to wear? Well, we Scots don’t judge, so you can really wear any tartan that you like. This is what sets Scotland apart from many other countries – we don’t judge and accept everybody for what they want to be.
What Tartan Can I Wear?
Tartan Related to Surnames
The vast majority of tartans are named after a clan. You can have a have a look at our Tartan Database and try and find your surname in the gallery. Say for example you are looking for the Stewart tartan, click on the “S” category and you’ll find it in there.
It is important to note that you don’t need to have that surname to wear a tartan related to that surname. Very few people can identify a tartan just from the look of it, and they are more likely going to comment on the look of your kilt more than anything else. Bare in mind that there wile spelling variations. For example, if your surname is McFarlane, we would recommend you look for MacFarlane. Similarly, if your surname is “Stevenson”, we would recommend you search for “Stephenson”.
If you want a truly authentic tartan that matches your families history, you may wish to do a bit of digging to determine the origin of your surname. You may be able to find an older variation of your surname that you didn’t know existed.
We get a lot of emails similar to: “My surname is Jackowski – I can’t find my family’s tartan in the database”. There will be many surnames that have no connection to Scotland or Ireland that will therefore not have a tartan. If this applies to your surname, why not choose a tartan such as the Black Watch? Alternatively, contact us and we will recommend a great looking tartan for you!
Have You Considered “Septs”?
If you have searched our tartan database and not found a tartan that matches your last name, don’t worry, your surname may in fact be linked to what is known as a “sept”. A sept is basically a family name that is associated with another clan. The best way to understand this is to think of a sept as a division of a particular family. Back when clans roamed the Highlands of Scotland, “septs” are those families that followed and identified with the chief of another clan.
Let’s use an example. The surname “Reid” was a clan that associated with the Robertson clan. Therefore, if you have the surname Reid, we would recommend you wear the Robertson tartan. One of the most common Scottish surnames is Miller, which is actually a sept of MacFarlane. Similarly, Taylor is a sept of Cameron.
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you wish to get more information about your surname.
What Tartan Can I Wear if I have No Scottish Heritage?
If you don’t have a clan tartan, or if we identify that your clan is not associated with a sept, you can select universal tartan instead, or a tartan that is not associated with a particular clan. Examples of tartans such as these include Isle of Skye and Black Watch.
Isle of Skye (Ancient)
The Isle of Skye tartan is a particular favorite for those of us who are not associated with Scotland. The colors and look of the tartan are made to reflect the beauty and majesty of the Isle of Skye, which is often known as “Misty Isle”.
The Black Watch were a Highland Regimen that wore a striking dark colored tartan. Despite the name, the main colors of this popular tartan are blue, green, white, yellow and red. There are many different styles of Black Watch tartan. Below is an example of the Muted Black Watch tartan. Here’s more information on the Black Watch kilt.
In Summary – The Steps to Take to Choose a Tartan
Ok, here are the steps to take.
- Start by searching our Tartan Database for your surname. Please remember to search for variations of the spelling of your surname, like we discussed.
- If your search draws blank, we would recommend that you enhance your search by maybe searching for other family names that mean something to you, such as your mother’s maiden name. This will certainly widen the choice of available tartans.
- Try researching your surname to see if it was part of a sept, whereby your clan identified with another clan and subsequently used your tartan.
- Still can’t find a tartan that you can personally identify with? Why not try a Universal tartan such as Black Watch. For Irish kilts, there is a tartan for each county. Even if you are not Scottish, you can still choose one of these tartans. Get started now by browsing our range of Mens Kilts.
- For reviews of kilts and other products, you may want to check out TopReviewHut.
Send us any queries or questions you may have and we can help you answer the age old question of “What Tartan Can I Wear?”.