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  1. #1
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    Has anyone ever actually measured and compared kilt swing?

    After years of wearing utility kilts and cheap kilts, I'm finally seriously considering buying a well-made proper 16 oz wool tartan kilt from a respected manufacturer. I'm all into the 100% wool thing, I totally buy how kilts are more comfortable, I like the look, I like the history and I revere the tradition of the kilt and the art of its manufacture. But I'm having some difficulty with some of the claims about issues that seem a bit led by fashion and trends, especially when I consider that the modern full-8-yard kilt is quite a recent (i.e. 20th Century) invention.

    Ive heard a lot about how 8 yard 16 oz wool kilts have the best swing or sway. But has anyone ever actually done a comparison with kilts made of other materials or with different fabric lengths or thicknesses? I'm no rocket surgeon or brain scientist, but before I spend $600+ on a "good quality" kilt, I'd like to see actual evidence to show that an 8 yard wool kilt gives appreciably more or better swing than a less expensive 5 yarder, and I'd like to see hard evidence that cheap <$100 kilts with sewn pleats and wool/poly blends have awful swing.

    Also, I'd like to know why this makes a difference and why we ought to be interested in kilt swing. Why is this characteristic of kilts even an important thing for the modern devotee? I have a hard time imagining that my MacLeod ancestors in the 17th and 18th Centuries, in their 4 or 5 yard Great Kilts that they pleated daily and regarded as just a versatile item of clothing, spent much time worrying about how much their pleats swung as they walked. As a person whose appreciation of the kilt comes more from a love of history and tradition, I wonder if we're perpetuating a myth that comes more from misconceptions about records of early fabric purchases (as I understand it, they would buy 9 yards of single width fabric to make a Great Kilt that was double-width and 4 1/2 yards long - but 19th Century historians just looked at the yardage and figured they wore a full 9 yard long kilt) combined with the kilt manufacturers' need to sell more fabric, than from an actual historical reverence for the traditions behind the kilt.

    I'm all for keeping traditional skilled artisans in business, but I'm also keenly aware that a top quality kilt would put an enormous dent in my wallet. Before I lay down such a sizeable sum, I think I need a bit more than a blanket "Hey, just trust me" assurance from kilt devotees that there's no substitute for a full 8 yards of 16 oz 100% wool grown, spun, woven and hand-sewn in (or near) the Highlands of Scotland. I'd like to know whether there's science and rationality behind this stuff, or whether it's all just a matter of fashion and feeling?

    I'm not saying I wouldn't buy a kilt if it's all just down to fashion. I'm certainly up for a 5-yard kilt in MacLeod Reproduction tartan. It's just that my BS-Detector is going off whenever I hear people wax lyrical about the wondrous sway of an 8-yarder, and I'd like to know if it's just that my BS-Detector's mechanism needs recalibrating.

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by Beery; 13th May 18 at 11:52 AM.

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  3. #2
    Terry Searl is offline This person has chosen not to remain within the community
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    both

    Quote Originally Posted by Beery View Post
    After years of wearing utility kilts and cheap kilts, I'm finally seriously considering buying a well-made proper 16 oz wool tartan kilt from a respected manufacturer. I'm all into the 100% wool thing, I totally buy how kilts are more comfortable, I like the look, I like the history and I revere the tradition of the kilt and the art of its manufacture. But I'm having some difficulty with some of the claims about issues that seem a bit led by fashion and trends, especially when I consider that the modern full-8-yard kilt is quite a recent (i.e. 20th Century) invention.

    Ive heard a lot about how 8 yard 16 oz wool kilts have the best swing or sway. But has anyone ever actually done a comparison with kilts made of other materials or with different fabric lengths or thicknesses? I'm no rocket surgeon or brain scientist, but before I spend $600+ on a "good quality" kilt, I'd like to see actual evidence to show that an 8 yard wool kilt gives appreciably more or better swing than a less expensive 5 yarder, and I'd like to see hard evidence that cheap <$100 kilts with sewn pleats and wool/poly blends have awful swing.

    Also, I'd like to know why this makes a difference and why we ought to be interested in kilt swing. Why is this characteristic of kilts even an important thing for the modern devotee? I have a hard time imagining that a 17th and 18th Century Scot, in his 4 or 5 yard Great Kilt that he pleated daily and regarded as just a versatile item of clothing, spent much time worrying about how much his pleats swung as he walked. As a person whose appreciation of the kilt comes more from a love of history and tradition, I wonder if we're perpetuating a myth that comes more from misconceptions about records of early fabric purchases (they would buy 9 yards of single width fabric to make a Great Kilt that was double-width and 4 1/2 yards long) combined with the kilt manufacturers' need to sell more fabric, than from an actual historical reverence for the traditions behind the kilt.

    I'm all for keeping traditional skilled artisans in business, but I'm also keenly aware that a top quality kilt would put an enormous dent in my wallet. Before I lay down such a sizeable sum, I think I need a bit more than a blanket "Hey, just trust me" assurance from kilt devotees that there's no substitute for a full 8 yards of 16 oz 100% wool grown, spun, woven and hand-sewn in (or near) the Highlands of Scotland. I'd like to know whether there's science and rationality behind this stuff, or whether it's all just a matter of fashion and feeling?

    I'm not saying I wouldn't buy a kilt if it's all just down to fashion. It's just that my BS-Detector is going off whenever I hear people wax lyrical about kilt sway, and I'd like to know if the BS-D's mechanism just needs recalibrating.

    Thoughts?
    I have only been wearing my kilts about three years. I have two kilts, one a PV kilt, material from Martin Mills and the other a 8.5 yd 16 oz wool from Loccharon. The cost of the PV kilt was less than half of the Woolen kilt. Each kilt was built by a different kilt maker but both kilts were fitted by the builder and are extremely comfortable to wear

    Speaking objectively, there is a fair difference in the feel of the two fabrics....I really like how the wool feels to the touch but the PV material also feels fine to the touch, just different.

    For me, the most noticeable difference besides cost and ease to maintain the kilts, is the difference in their weight......The PV material is noticeably lighter.
    Not to be facetious, but I really haven't noticed the different action of the swish of the pleats because I have never been able to watch myself walk down the street to SEE the difference. I don't really pay much attention to other than walking down the street when I'm doing so .......and so far no strangers have come up to me to tell me that there is a noticeable difference .......although I think there must be because that is what I've read, but only READ not really noticeably felt or seen

    I also think besides the difference in material, a lot of the action and feel of the swish might be due to the care and attention of the Kilt builders when building the kilt. .......just my opinion though

    Having said all that though I am very happy that I got the wool kilt as well as the kilt in PV material.....The wool kilt is in the Canadian Maple Leaf tartan and looks gorgeous; the weight of it makes it drape very nicely and it feels special when I first put it on. My First Kilt was the PV tartan material and besides being able to wash it myself, it resists wrinkling more than the wool when I'm sitting, so if I know I have a long distance to drive or will be sitting for an extended period of time, it is the one I go to. Both materials have their place and I enjoy wearing them equally
    Last edited by Terry Searl; 13th May 18 at 05:13 PM.

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  5. #3
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    Thumbs up

    I have both wool and pv. I much prefer the pv for price and ease of care . My wool kilts are great for colder temps in my area and don't seem to blow up as much in the wind . I agree with out seeing me from behind I don't know if there is a difference and no one has commented. Spend what you want and enjoy wearing it .
    live for god and you shall have life

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  7. #4
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    Are you really gonna buy a kilt based on whether or not it swings to a certain degree as measured by someone who has nothing better to do than to measure the swing of his kilt? Or are you gonna buy it based on durability and quality of the fabric? Are you going to spend $600 because it is a hand crafted garment with internal construction designed and stitched to be passed down to the next generation? (Which btw, American kiltmakers who advertise here can produce the same if not better product than someone in the highlands of scotland). The modern tailored kilt is nothing like what your ancestors wore wrapped around their bums. The modern kilt material is expensive to produce and it takes countless hours to turn into an 8 yard hand sewn garment. I don't know what sort of scientific research you're looking for to justify the cost of a "tank", but if all those factors involved in its production don't convince you of its cost, if you really think an acrylic machine made in Pakistan kilt is comparable, then I don't know. I guess im just confused about your approach to buying a kilt.

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  9. #5
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    This thing about the swish of a kilt is real.

    When guys come into my shop with a lady I will usually ask them "Why do we wear the kilt?". They will often answer with "Heritage" or "comfort" or some other answer about them.

    I then tell them that we do not wear the kilt for us.

    I then turn my back to the lady and tell the guy to watch her. Then watch his reaction to her reaction to swish.

    That is why we wear the kilt. Women love to watch us walk away. It is called "The power of the kilt".

    Swish is a factor of a few things. The heavier the fabric - usually the better the swish. The longer the pleats are - usually the better the swish. Narrow pleats will usually swish better than wide pleats. (this is why an 8 yard kilt has better swish than a 5 yard kilt).
    A well tailored and well fitting kilt will swish better than the average off-the-rack kilt. Where the bottom of the Fell area fits the wearer has a very large effect on swish. (wearing a kilt designed to be worn at the anatomical waist, lower than where it was designed to fit, drops the bottom of the Fell below the crest of the butt, and totally destroys the swish.)
    And the fabric the kilt is made from has a lot to do with swish. Twill woven Wool will swish far better than the average Polyester/Cotton fabrics that most utility kilts are made from.

    So yes, swish is real, and a well fitting, heavy weight wool kilt, swishes better than anything else.
    Steve Ashton
    www.freedomkilts.com
    Skype (webcam enabled) thewizardofbc
    I wear the kilt because:
    Swish + Swagger = Swoon.

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  11. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manu View Post
    Are you really gonna buy a kilt based on whether or not it swings to a certain degree as measured by someone who has nothing better to do than to measure the swing of his kilt?
    Hi Manu.

    Hmmm. I was trying to start a discussion, not a fight. I think you have chosen to take the wrong tack there. I'm just not that guy.

    Of course I'm not going to buy a kilt purely based on how it swings. I think I covered why I'm considering buying a kilt in my first paragraph. The swing issue is just my BS detector saying "Hey, maybe the extra $500 has something to do with BS like fashion and too little to do with function. And I never said a Pakistani kilt was "comparable" to one made in Scotland - you were the only one suggesting that. The two are obviously not comparable - one costs $60 and the other costs $600+. If you think that's comparable, you're wrong. If you think I think that's comparable, you're wrong too. The question is, is the more expensive one really worth that much more. I'm just not totally convinced it is. I'm asking for evidence supporting the idea that things like kilt sway matter. That's all. I'm not insulting you, dude.

    But you don't seem interested in having a discussion. You seem to want a fight. Sorry, but I'm too old for that kind of BS too. Maybe pick on someone younger and angrier. That ain't me.
    Last edited by Beery; 13th May 18 at 04:36 PM.

  12. #7
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    I think you should consider just getting a nice 16 oz five yarder. I believe it would more effectively fill the gap between the cheap kilts and really expensive ones. I don't personally have an 8 yard kilt, but can assure you there is no comparison between a real 5 yard kilt and a utility kilt,or a cheap kilt.
    Last edited by tokareva; 13th May 18 at 06:25 PM.

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  14. #8
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    I honestly do not think I can support a statement like
    especially when I consider that the modern full-8-yard kilt is quite a recent (i.e. 20th Century) invention.
    The kilt we have today is actually the culmination of years of refinement and the artistry of many thousands of talented kiltmakers.
    It is far less an "invention" than a development. Since the first kilts in late 1700's it has been a process of gradual improvement and refinement.

    Is there a bit of snob factor in saying you own a premium expensive kilt? Well, yes, of course there is a bit of that.
    But there is also nothing that will look as good, standing or walking, as the kilt today.

    Is there a difference between an 8 yard, 16oz kilt and even an 8 yard, 13oz kilt. Yes there is.
    Is there a difference between an 8 yard kilt and a 5 yard kilt. Yes there is.

    I own and wear many kilts. Made from many different fabrics. I wear an 8 yard 16oz kilt for the most formal occasions or when I want to look my very best.

    If the activity I am going to be engaged in will get my kilt dirty I will wear a kilt made from a Polyester/Rayon blend fabric.

    I have tried the Acrylic kilts and frankly I do not wear them as I do not like how the fit feels on my body. I do not like that they stretch out of shape in an hour or two and I don't like that the fabric will not hold a good looking pleat.

    So in the end I choose which kilt to wear based on the event I am attending. I will wear a wool kilt in the kilt shop just because they give a more professional appearance. If I am going to move up to a jacket and tie event I will wear the kilt most suited to that look.

    A solid colored cargo kilt is for the most casual activities. Paintball or metal detecting.

    It is not about heritage to me. It is about choosing what items of clothing best suit what I am doing. Just as I would not choose a Prince Charlie coatee to attend my local Highland Games.

    If you are one of those guys who lives in blue jeans and never dresses up to jacket and tie level then perhaps you do not need an 8 yard, 16oz hand-stitched piece of art.

    It is not about the fashion BS as you imply, it really is about choosing the best garment for the event and caring how you look when you step out the front door.
    Last edited by The Wizard of BC; 13th May 18 at 07:19 PM.
    Steve Ashton
    www.freedomkilts.com
    Skype (webcam enabled) thewizardofbc
    I wear the kilt because:
    Swish + Swagger = Swoon.

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  16. #9
    Benning Boy's Avatar
    Benning Boy is offline Oops, it seems this member needs to update their email address
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    You can control the swing of a kilt. I find when I "march" like a disciplined soldier I can definitely feel my good wool kilts swinging vigorously. Just strolling, like when I'm with my wife the kilt just hangs and I can't feel it swing at all.

    Proper military marching is done from the hips down. The upper body is just along for the ride. As we used to say, don't diddybop. Head erect, shoulders back and arms swinging smoothly. Doing it properly the head shouldn't move from side to side, nor up and down. Try it and see how the kilt feels. It makes me wonder if the whole swing thing might have been heavily influenced by military wearers and civilians just imitate the look.
    Benning School for Boys
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  18. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beery View Post
    Hi Manu.

    Hmmm. I was trying to start a discussion, not a fight. I think you have chosen to take the wrong tack there. I'm just not that guy.

    Of course I'm not going to buy a kilt purely based on how it swings. I think I covered why I'm considering buying a kilt in my first paragraph. The swing issue is just my BS detector saying "Hey, maybe the extra $500 has something to do with BS like fashion and too little to do with function. And I never said a Pakistani kilt was "comparable" to one made in Scotland - you were the only one suggesting that. The two are obviously not comparable - one costs $60 and the other costs $600+. If you think that's comparable, you're wrong. If you think I think that's comparable, you're wrong too. The question is, is the more expensive one really worth that much more. I'm just not totally convinced it is. I'm asking for evidence supporting the idea that things like kilt sway matter. That's all. I'm not insulting you, dude.

    But you don't seem interested in having a discussion. You seem to want a fight. Sorry, but I'm too old for that kind of BS too. Maybe pick on someone younger and angrier. That ain't me.
    You're absolutely right, my apologies. I have not used poor decorum in my 13 years in this forum, and I'm not about to start now. At the same time, you are correct in that I am not interested in having a discussion about your OP, as I do not see the point to your argument. I feel The Wizard has very accurately described what makes an 8 yarder of 16 oz wool modern kilt a special garment. I will say, however, that you should probably be more careful before coming on this forum using words like "BS" to describe the reasons why respected kiltmakers, which there are a few of in this forum, charge what they charge. It makes them sound like sketchy peddlers with shoddy business practices, which we all know they are not. Either way, I hope you find what you're looking for and enjoy it.
    Last edited by Manu; 14th May 18 at 01:55 AM.

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