There are many "Kilt" manufacturers. You will see Kilts being sold online, at Highland Games, at Irish Festivals, in stores and elsewhere. You will see Kilts made in Scotland, the USA, Canada and places overseas. And you will see them made of wool, wool blends, cotton, acrylic and even plastic. So how do you know what to buy? Certainly you have to stay within your financial means. However, if you buy a $75 acrylic Kilt off the rack, know that it’s going to look like a $75 acrylic Kilt off the rack!
Your Kilt purchase should be viewed as an investment. Invest in a quality wool Kilt which when properly cared for, will last you a lifetime. When selecting a Kilt maker, do your research and think about what you personally want:
Do you want to have a Kilt made in Scotland, or do you want to support a Kilt maker in the USA or Canada?
How long has the Kilt maker been in business?
How many Kilts have they made?
Do they stand behind their Kilt?
Is satisfaction guaranteed ?
What Tartan do you want?
For example, years ago we purchased a Highland Dance Kilt from a private maker. She was referred to us by someone we knew and we assumed she would do a good job. Unfortunately, The Kilt had many problems. The apron didn’t hang right, the Kilt seemed short on material, and the stitching was very poor as illustrated by the photo to the upper right. To make it worse, she wouldn’t give us a refund. This was a costly lesson for us. We had to replace it, so we bought another Kilt from a reputable retailer. This Kilt was of very high quality. As shown in the photo to the right, the stitching was barely perceptible, there were more stitches per inch and they were much tighter. So the moral of this story is that “Buyer Beware” applies to Kilts too!
The Traditional quality "Custom Made" Kilt is usually made from 8 yards of material and hand sewn. A custom made Kilt is just that, it's custom made to fit the contours of your body based on your measurements. So the quality of the material and the fact that it is custom made, gives the Kilt a solid appearance, hanging and pleating very nicely too. It is worth investing in a quality Traditional Kilt that will last a lifetime - and you will look like a " Million Bucks"!
Quality Kilts usually come in three different weights: 10 ounce, 13 ounce and 16 ounce weight wools. The 10 ounce is the lightest and often used for Highland Dance Kilts as it will fly and spin more easily with the dancer. The heaviest is the 16 ounce, and also the weight of the Traditional Kilt. This wool is much heavier and hangs with a much heavier look and feel. This material pleats very nicely and holds the pleat better too. This is the choice of most Bagpipe Bands and serious Kilt wearers. The down side is that it costs you more. The 13 ounce weight wool provides a nice middle of the road choice in terms of weight, wear and cost.
Another option for a nice quality custom Kilt is what is now known as the "Casual Kilt". This is made of the same quality wool as the Traditional 8 yard Kilt. However, it is made with less material, the pleats aren't quite as deep, it is machine sewn rather than hand sewn and it costs about $100 dollars less. This is a nice option for those wanting to spend a little less, but desirous of a quality Kilt.
Also be advised that when it comes to quality weaved wool Tartan Kilt material, there are only a handful of mills out there. Although the Tartan patterns may be the same, the color shades may be slightly different. Therefore, you should know what mill has weaved your Tartan in case you wish to later add a plaid or sash or otherwise match the Tartan shades.