Making a Statement With Tartan Brogues

Jul 28, 2014 by


Fall is just around the corner (I know, wishful thinking on my part) and its never too early to start putting together a tartan wardrobe or adding to your tartan and plaid collection, especially if you have Scottish ancestry.  Good shoes are a must for any sophisticated closet and tartan shoes always get high marks for style and class.  Of course, men appreciate fashionable footwear almost as much as women do, but I’ve seen few men’s shoes with tartan accents–until now.

Scottish tartan brogues from ScotlandShop

Scottish tartan brogues from ScotlandShop, an online retailer based in Scotland, is currently selling tartan brogues that you can custom design by selecting the leather and the tartan. You may choose brown, black or burgundy leather and pick from–drum roll, please!–over 500 Scottish wool tartans, woven in Scotland, to further customize your look. I have no affiliation with the company, I simply think these shoes are wonderful for anyone who has Celtic ancestry or loves tartan and plaid.

The shoes aren’t cheap, but then you should not expect hand made, custom leather footwear to sell at bargain prices. Just think of them as a long-term investment in your Scottish heritage, as you would if you bought a beautiful antique sgian-dubh (pronounced skee-un doo) or an elegant wool kilt in your clan’s tartan.

Personally, I think men’s brogues can be a great addition to a woman’s wardrobe–look at photos of style icons Katherine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich and you’ll see what I mean. If you don’t want the manly look, however, you can buy lovely women’s brogues from the same company and choose from over 500 tartans to personalize your shoes. They may even have national tartans for other Celtic countries, such as Cornwall, Ireland and Brittany, that you can choose for your shoes.

Now, if only I can talk my husband into letting me buy a pair in Robertson tartan….

read more

National Tartan Day: Celebrating America’s Scottish Heritage

Apr 5, 2014 by

National Tartan Day is celebrated on April 6th in the United States to honor the many ways Scottish immigrants have contributed to the creation and growth of America.   In 2008, President George W. Bush signed a Presidential Proclamation designating the 6th of April, the date on which the Declaration of Arbroath was signed in 1320, as a day to celebrate Scottish heritage, and Tartan Day events have been steadily increasing ever since.   Although the celebrations are not as widespread or well-attended as Saint Patrick’s Day festivities, large National Tartan Day parades and events are held annually in New York City, St Charles, Missouri, Washington, D.C. and many other cities.

Can’t make it to one of those cities?

Show pride in your Scottish heritage and have your own cèilidh– break out your kilt,  bagpipe music and whisky and invite your friends and family over to rock the tartan!





There is some evidence that the ancient Celts wove cloth that looks like what we now think of as tartan, but the use of tartan as an identifying pattern for Scottish clans is a more recent invention.  In the late 16th century,   some historical sources refer to various types of checkered or patterned cloth among the Scottish clans.  By the 18th century, the tartan had become so closely associated with the Highland clans that the British Crown passed the Dress Act of 1746, banning the wearing of tartan, as a means of crushing the rebellious Highlanders and the Jacobite cause.  The Act was repealed in 1782, but by then tartan had become a part of the Scottish national identity and a symbol of Scottish freedom  for all Scots, not just Highlanders.




Not sure about the difference between tartan and plaid?   It’s a question I get asked frequently, especially in connection with clan ancestry research.
Tartan is a pattern on cloth consisting of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colors, called breacan in Scots Gaelic. In weaving, the warp (the lengthwise yarns) and the weft (the transverse threads which are pulled through the warp yarns) are woven at right angles to each other, creating a distinctive pattern of squares and lines known as a sett.   There are setts for all kinds of things, such as the Scottish clans, several US states, and big companies like Harley Davidson– there’s even a Hello Kitty sett!

Plaid is not the same thing as tartan, although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably in the US.   The word plaid comes from the Scots Gaelic word plaide, meaning blanket, and originally referred to a piece of cloth used as a blanket or as a belted plaid, the original form of a kilt.  In Scotland today, if you ask for a plaid, you’ll likely be shown a piece of tartan designed to be slung over one shoulder or used as a blanket or throw for your bed.

The Grand Marshall at this years NYC Tartan Day parade is Howie Nicholsby, owner of world-famous 21st Century Kilts in Edinburgh and handsome Scotsman. Here’s a video from Howie about the kilt and its history:



Of course, it’s not  Tartan Day without a few Americans in kilts, right?!



Kennedy tartan

Kennedy tartan






US Navy tartan on left and US Army tartan on right, courtesy of Sportkilt

US Navy tartan on left and US Marine tartan on right, courtesy of Sportkilt



 Have a great National Tartan Day!

Sources and Links:

The Scottish Register of Tartans

This is the first place to look when researching your clan tartan.The Scottish Register of Tartans was established by an act of the Scottish Parliament in 2008, to protect, promote and preserve tartan. The Register is a database of tartan designs, maintained by the National Records of Scotland.

Scottish Tartans Authority-has a large database of info on tartans and clans

Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America,  by James Webb (2005)–great book!

Tartans of Scotland

New York Tartan Week

read more

A Big Thank You To Atlanta’s King of Kilts

Dec 1, 2013 by

I’m a bit late on this–where does my time go?!– but I’d like to send a HUGE THANK YOU to Brad Beaton, owner of for all of his help and support as we prepared the new Kilted Up 2014 calendar.  Not only did he pose for our calendar ( June’s handsome piper), he graciously loaned us several beautiful kilts and accessories for models who didn’t own one yet .

Brad is a skilled bagpiper, a member of the North Atlanta Pipes and Drums, and an expert in Scottish Highland dress–he KNOWS tartans!  If you need a kilt for the holiday season, Brad is the man who can get you nattily attired for your event.   He and his expert staff have an extensive selection of traditional tartans–heavenly–for you to choose from, whether you want to purchase or rent, along with all accessories.  If you have your own clan tartan or a unique design, can weave it for you, and can ship your kilt to any state in the US.

Click over to Brad’s FB page and give him a like–please let him know WESCelt sent you!

FYI, Brad’s kilt in this pic is the lovely (and not often seen) Isle of Skye tartan.

Brad Beaton,

Brad Beaton,

read more