I saw an article on a wedding site once that said: “you have to be Scottish to wear a Kilt to a wedding”. That’s not so True…..
Kilts are for the occasion, it’s about participation and paying homage to the host. Kilts are not only worn by clansmen, but in support of them too. Wearing a kilt can be a great learning experience and you should enjoy it and take the time to understand what you are wearing as well as the culture and traditions behind it.
Imagine if you will…… You are invited by a friend to watch a Lions game at Ellis Park. Now even though you are not a rugby player (or even a Lions supporter), you have chosen on this occasion to support the Lions and wear a Lions jersey to the stadium. That is perfectly acceptable. It pays homage to the Lions and shows respect and an understanding of the occasion.
But just remember, for so long at you wear that Lions jersey, your allegiances are clear…. and the same applies to the clan whos’ kilt you are wearing.
So no, you don’t have to be German to wear Lederhosen to a beer festival and you don’t have to be Scottish to wear a kilt to a Wedding, you just need to understand the occasion and respect the culture. You are quite entitled to share the traditions of your host and participate in his culture to show support.
But which Tartan….?
Start with the obvious, if you have your own tartan, wear it. If not, you can wear the tartan of the occasion. So if you are a Van Jaarsveld and you are going to a MacDonald Wedding, then wear MacDonald, (its like going to Ellis Park in a Lions jersey) and shows that you have taken the time to understand his heritage.
Failing any of the above, not all tartans are clan (Surname) based. There are many neutral or generic tartans such as district tartans, theme tartans, corporate tartans and non-affiliated tartans. Some examples include dark isle tartan (right), highland granite tartan, pride of Scotland tartan and Black Watch tartan .
So there are hundreds of incredible tartans to chose from that have no affiliation to a particular name and anyone is free to wear them.
With that said, there are restricted tartans that may only be worn with consent or belonging, but these are not common and you are unlikely to come across them. Besides, if you were invited to such an occasion then you most likely move in those circles and would probably know.
Lastly, wear it well…… its not what tartan you wear, but more importantly how it fits and how you wear it. There is a right way to wear a kilt that fits properly. Wear it with understanding and pride.
If you have any doubt or questions…. Just pop in and see us, or feel free to call. I will consult with you and get you into an appropriate kilt that fits well.
About the Author:
Steve Johnston is the owner at Dunvegan Kilts & Tartans in Johannesburg, Kilt Maker and South African Bagpipe champion (Grade 4). www.kilts.co.za