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Thread: Advice on Kilt

  1. #1
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    Advice on Kilt

    So, as I mentioned in my introductory post in the newbies board, I'm going to a Burns Night Supper this Winter which is being hosted by the local Masonic Shrine. They've been doing this for at least several years now, but this is the first time I'll be attending. Being a Masonic event at a Shrine with a pipe band (and a Burns Supper at that!) I know that there will be several kilted men in attendance, including at least two of my buddies who are Masons and part of the pipe band.

    As much as I wish I had $1000 to drop on an 8 yd. 16 oz premium kilt, tailor-fitted jacket, formal sporran, hose, ghillie brogues, etc., I'm on a much tighter budget than that right now. I fully plan to eventually buy such niceties, but time and cost are against me currently. Thus, I have a number of questions and quandaries.

    Formal (Black Tie) Attire Checklist
    • Kilt - Looking at a 13 oz. wool budget kilt in either Irish National or Black Watch that looks nice from the online photos. For budget kilts, they look pretty well-made, have belt loops (which some budget kilts I've see do not have), leather straps w/ metal buckles (no Velcro or cheap plastic buckles), and appear to be well-pleated (assuming the photo isn't a stock image from somewhere else).
    • Jacket - I'm currently looking at getting a used tux jacket with tails to convert into a Brian Boru (shortening/narrowing the tails, adding cuffs and epaulets, and replacing buttons seemed much more sensible and doable with my moderate sewing experience than trying to convert a PC peak/notch collar to a shawl collar, change the shape/appearance of the tails, changing the type of cuffs, and replacing buttons)
    • Sporran - Probably borrowing from one of my buddies who has several formal sporrans.
    • Belt - Whether or not to wear a belt with formal attire seems to be up for debate. Whether or not I will wear it depends on how well the kilt fits around my belly and whether or not my buddy's spare sporran strap/chain fits around me or if I have to use sporran hangers.
    • Hose/Flashes - Looking for input on what hose and flashes to get; leaning toward black or charcoal hose and green flashes, since both tartans I'm considering have considerable amounts of green. I don't currently own flashes and the only hose I have are old cream ones that I wore with the rental kilt that I got married in 12.5 years ago.
    • Sgian Dubh - Not going to bother with it unless one of my buddies has one I can borrow for the night.
    • Shoes - I used to have a nice pair of patent leathers (all smooth black leather, no broguing). If they didn't disappear in the move into our house and still fit, I'll probably just stick with them. If I can't find them or they don't fit well, I'll probably just get a pair of inexpensive Oxfords or see if I can find anything decent at thrift/consignment shops.
    • Tie - Need a lot of feedback on this. I have a fairly long beard that covers my neck and falls to mid-chest. I have nothing against bow ties, in fact, I rather like them, but unless my head is turned or you're a bit off to one side or the other, you simply won't see it under my beard. Would something like a cravat, ruche, or other tie be appropriate? If so, what kind of shirt collar should they be worn with?
    • Waistcoat/Vest - Is a waistcoat/vest needed? Recommended? Does it depend on the type of shirt/tie I wear? Should it be black like the jacket or can it be in another color, pattern, or tartan? Does 3-button vs. 5-button matter that much?
    • Shirt - Most likely dependent on the tie.


    I'm pretty set on going with the Brian Boru for two reasons; my family heritage is ~50% Irish and I personally like the look of the BB more than the PC. Though I do rather like the cut of the Argyle's jib and to my American, almost-never-going-to-black-tie-event eyes the Argyle looks quite fitting for a formal occasion.
    Verbing weirds language.

  2. #2
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    I have no practical advice but USA Kilts is in PA
    I suggest visiting Rocky and seeking his advice, all the gentleman here on the board highly recommend him and his business.
    Have a great time and remember to post pictures.

    (I did a training course in Lancaster a few years ago Pennsylvania is so pretty)

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  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lady Grey View Post
    I have no practical advice but USA Kilts is in PA
    I suggest visiting Rocky and seeking his advice, all the gentleman here on the board highly recommend him and his business.
    Have a great time and remember to post pictures.
    I have to second the Lady on all these points (if possible for you). It sounds like you have good instincts on your ensemble. The jacket, shirt and tie issue (considering your beard) may be your only snag. I'd think that gold or rust colored hose, green flashes and gold/rust kerchief would work. This will distract from a simple solution of white shirt, turn down collar and thin straight (I'd choose an emerald color, solid or slightly patterned) tie.

    Have a wonderful time regardless the extent of your wardrobe.

  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheGratefulNed View Post
    .............

    Formal (Black Tie) Attire Checklist
    [LIST][*] Kilt - Looking at a 13 oz. wool budget kilt in either Irish National or Black Watch that looks nice from the online photos. For budget kilts, they look pretty well-made, have belt loops (which some budget kilts I've see do not have), leather straps w/ metal buckles (no Velcro or cheap plastic buckles), and appear to be well-pleated (assuming the photo isn't a stock image from somewhere else).
    ............
    Just so you know, belt loops are a fairly modern addition to the kilt and are no indication of the quality of the kilt. In fact, quite the opposite might be the case as the owner of a bespoke kilt may choose not to have belt loops.
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.

  6. #5
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    My kilt has no such loops but I have been led to believe that any such loops are intended purely for the sporran strap/chain if present, never for a belt.

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  8. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdinSteve View Post
    My kilt has no such loops but I have been led to believe that any such loops are intended purely for the sporran strap/chain if present, never for a belt.
    Yes, we've had some heated debates here in the past on that subject. The consensus from the traditional camp is that loops are not required, but if present, should be used as shown below. The kilt belt goes over the loops with the sporran strap going inside the loops. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense that the loops are tall enough to accommodate the belt (and they really do help keep the belt from rising up over the back of the kilt after repeated bending or sitting), but this is the way "they" say to wear it.


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  10. #7
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    The issue is, that a belt through loops will hold the kilt up unevenly and eventually will stretch the material and give you a wavy sett. The belt, historically had nothing to do with keeping your kilt on. A well measured and constructed kilt will ride on your hips just fine. It's to hold up a dirk and is properly referred to as a "dirk belt" not a "kilt belt". Since dirks are way over the top and often illegal in a variety of situations, a dirk belt is unnecessary. Finally, you probably shouldn't be wearing a dirk belt anyway if you have on a vest or even a sweater.

    How's that!
    Rev'd Father Bill White: Retired Parish Priest & Elementary Headmaster, lover of God, people (most of them!) dogs, joy, humour & clarity. Legion Padre, theologian, teacher, philosopher, linguist, dreamer, traditionalist, bon-vivant, encourager of hearts & souls & a firm believer in dignity, decency, & duty. A proud Sinclair.

  11. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobus View Post
    ... this is the way "they" say to wear it.
    Not sure who "they" are! I would never dream of putting the sporran strap through those loops. Whether you use them for a belt is really a matter of individual choice as is the choice of wearing a belt at all.

    Alan

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  13. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lady Grey View Post
    I have no practical advice but USA Kilts is in PA
    I suggest visiting Rocky and seeking his advice, all the gentleman here on the board highly recommend him and his business.
    I definitely plan on making a trip down to see Rocky at USA Kilts when I'm ready (and able) to buy a nice, high-quality kilt, but at ~7 hours driving time for the round trip, it's unfortunately not a simple afternoon jaunt. The kilt belt and buckle that I wear with my utility kilt came from USA Kilts and I'm going to order my sporran hangers from him (wish I'd seen the flash sale last evening). I love the knotwork embossing on my belt and the leather work on the hangers looks just as nice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel View Post
    The jacket, shirt and tie issue (considering your beard) may be your only snag. I'd think that gold or rust colored hose, green flashes and gold/rust kerchief would work. This will distract from a simple solution of white shirt, turn down collar and thin straight (I'd choose an emerald color, solid or slightly patterned) tie.
    The first high quality kilt I get is going to be either Ireland's National or Irish National tartan. I like your idea of the gold/rust hose and think they'd look quite nice with the Irish National, but I wonder how they would look if I got Black Watch or some other generally-permitted tartan that doesn't have gold/yellow in it. I think you might be onto something with the thin straight emerald green tie since you can't really see the knot behind my beard. Probably a 3-button waistcoat would be best with that.


    This is the first I'm hearing that the belt loops in a kilt aren't for a kilt belt or that a kilt belt wasn't originally intended for keeping the kilt in place. I always assumed it was a byproduct of the Feileadh-mhor, where, if I understand the wearing of it correctly, the belt was specifically for keeping the kilt closed and in place. I learn at least one new thing every time I come on this forum.
    Verbing weirds language.

  14. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by neloon View Post
    Not sure who "they" are! I would never dream of putting the sporran strap through those loops. Whether you use them for a belt is really a matter of individual choice as is the choice of wearing a belt at all.

    Alan
    I had to search way back to remember the discussions we had. I found this one from 2011. It was actually a quote from a co-author of the book The Art of Kiltmaking (see post #19 in that thread) where it was recommended not to put the belt through those belt loops, but to reserve them for a sporran strap if the wearer fears the strap slipping down. So I suppose it was not a traditionalist viewpoint at work there, but practical advice from a kiltmaker. Barb Tewksbury posted some photos in that thread to show why it's not a good idea to use the belt loops for a belt, as they will distort the kilt over time.

    I find myself not wearing a belt most of the time these days, but I still put my sporran strap through the loops out of habit. I don't necessarily think the strap would slip down out of place, but it does ensure that it's high enough at the rear not to interfere with my lower hip buckle/strap on my kilt as it comes around the side.

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