From a young age, I relished in the notion of becoming a ballerina. Intrigued by the free-flowing costumes and overall grace in movement, I lusted for silk, sheer, and velvet fabrics which brought the dancer to life.
However, my parents had different intentions for me as a young dancer. At the age of eight, I found myself in a blue and white plaid skirt that seemingly added ten pounds to my small frame. I became a highland dancer, and my kilt became a part of my identity.
This knee-length skirt was often worn by men, and dates back to 16th century Scotland. Depending on the size of the skirt, a tailor would require up to 8 yards of pleated fabric in order to create one single garment. Members of the highland regiment wore kilts as part of their uniforms; they donned a standardized dark tartan for battle.
As I soon discovered throughout my growth as a dancer, the kilt mimicked my movements and added dramatic effect as I danced over swords and leaped into the splits as the finale of my Highland fling. Colorful plaids represented the identity of various traditional Scottish clans, and changed the look of the kilt altogether. The design of the kilt, use of genuine wool fabric, distinctive plaids, and long-established steps of the various highland dances all contributed to the authentic and traditional nature of my new hobby. Heavy-duty leather fasteners held the kilt around my waist, and a purposely frayed edge was secured by a metal pin at the hem.
The kilt is an extraordinary garment due to its’ historical significance, incredible tailoring, meticulous manipulation of fabric, ease of movement and unique ability to distinctly communicate identity. From a nostalgic standpoint, the kilt shaped a great deal of my childhood and knowledge of my Scottish heritage.