by Camilla Ridley
The kilt is back and with Burns Night just around the corner, it's the perfect time to embrace your inner Scottish rebel
Influencers are embracing Tartan (from left to right) at New York Fashion Week in a Tartan overcoat, Featured on the cover of Taylor Swift's new album Evermore. British Influencers Deborah James @bowelbabe and Becky Gunning @bricksandstithes embracing their inner punks with this seasons must have print.
Thankfully we’re more than half-way through January. I don’t know about you, but in the best of times it’s a pretty bleak month. Endless cold rainy days, hunkering down, post Christmas detoxes, and now a lockdown that appears to be extending every day accompanied by an endless feed of tragic and unsettling news. So it’s vital that wherever possible, we have activities and events that lift our collective spirits, breaking up this incessant gloom. And unless you are Orthodox or have a personal anniversary, the first date in the National Diary is January the 25th. Burns Night. Which also happens to be my birthday. Now I’m no Scot (although I do have family connections), but for a longtime now I have celebrated my birthday every year with a Burns style party. Complete with all the food, music, dressing up and traditions...all be it done in a somewhat tongue in cheek English way. Including our annual prize for the most kitsch kilt! And it’s a lot of fun, especially once the whiskey cocktails are flowing! Above all the theme is an opportunity to think about and do something entirely different. In fact, embracing our inner Scot (all be it from the comfort of our own homes) on Burns night this year should be prescribed by the Governments SAGE advisory committee as a form of National Therapy.
So unfortunately like all of Scotland, we’ll be celebrating our Burns night this year with friends over zoom. And it’s probably going to be a slightly more subdued event than usual. However this doesn’t mean we won’t be entering into the spirit of things which is so crucial for our collective well-beings. My husband is already getting very excited about cooking a rib of Scotch Beef with all the trimmings including haggis and neeps as well as Yorkshire puddings. We’ll definitely be blasting the house with bagpipe music, enjoying some wonderful Scottish smoked salmon, and of course obligatory whiskey cocktails. Above all, this is a great opportunity to trade my lockdown leggings for some trendy tartan. And if you’re thinking of investing in a Burns Night wardrobe, now is probably the perfect time to do this.
Tartan is taking the catwalks by storm this season (from top left to right) Celine's elegant new micro-skirt, tartan blazers are prominent in Saint Laurent's Fall 2020 collection, Gucci's new maxi kilt, and tartan micro mini-skirts by Miu Miu. Finally a swatch of the ever popular Royal Stewart Tartan
That’s right, the Scottish tribal favourite beloved of punk rockers and the sartorially subversive, not to forget the Proclaimers is right back in vogue. Or as Jane McFarland, Wardrobe Mistress to The Times…who does I admit have a slightly Scottish sounding name…proclaims “Tartan is having a moment!” According to Jane "In December searches for Tartan pieces increased by 29 per cent, and when Taylor Swift was pictured wearing the check fabric on the cover of her new album, Evermore, searches for Tartan coats jumped by 49 percent in one day according to the fashion search engine Lyst.” In fact the thigh skimming kilt has been seen on the catwalks of brands including Celine, Burberry and Irina Shayk in New York this season. Gucci have even recently launched a £1,600 maxi kilt and Dior a line of tartan jackets.
Tartan’s resurgence and adoption by today’s creative pioneers is in part due to the testing times we’re living in combined with the fabric's rebellious history. As The Telegraph’s head of fashion Lisa Armstrong point out, tartan’s jump from "country chic to fashion cool" is woven deep into the fabric's colourful history. "In the 17th century the English tried to outlaw it among fighting Scottish clans and since then it has managed to hang on to that anarchic aura (it was big among the countercultural revolutionaries of the 1960s and the punks of the ’70s). The fact that some people still believe the red tartans (aka Battle Tartans) were designed in that shade so that blood wouldn’t show up, just proves how out-there they have always been. While I don't hold with violence in any form, it must be said, tartan’s bolshy reputation has kept it admirably edgy.” And as anyone who has studied Jungian Archetypes will tell you, it’s always the outlaws that effect positive change. And let’s face it, if ever there was ever a time we needed positive change, it has to be now!
Influencer Becky Gunning @bricksandstitches shows of the versatility of the tartan trend with a pair of new super relaxed Ridley London silk velvet tartan lounge trousers and her silk velvet tartan maxi skirt this time styled more formally
So if you’re thinking of embracing your edgie inner creative rebel, there are a number of ways to tap into the turbo charged tartan trend, which don’t involve a pleated mini kilt. Which lets face it look utterly ridiculous on anyone, who as Jane McFarland points out, is “over A-level age!” And as we all know, so much of getting the right look is about cleverly styling and balancing. This season we’ve got a number of versatile Ridley pieces in this seasons must have tartan, but with a slightly grown up edge. First of all, we’ve gone for the luxurious comfort and warmth of silk velvet tartan opposed to the somewhat scratchy highland classic. Being punk these days shouldn't mean compromising on comfort or lustre. We’ve teamed these beautiful fabrics with some of our most popular styles of maxi skirt, including our classic A-line and the popular tiered Sammy maxi skirt, which look fantastic when styled with boots, bikers and roll necks as shown here by the ever elegant Becky from @bricksandstitches. And if you’re after a more relaxed lockdown look, you can’t go wrong with a pair of our new tartan longe trousers which look fabulous with trainers, t-shirts, slippers and a chunky knit. And as I can testify, they’re so comfortable, you’re never going to want to change out of them.
Our Ridley London silk velvet tartan maxi skirts and lounge trousers are available on our website.
Our Burns Night Brief:
If you're thinking about hosting your own Burns Night celebration at home this year, here's our checklist of things to get you in the mood.
It's easy to get into the Burns Night spirit with the right music and some fabulous Scottish food and drink including my favourite Flying Scottsman whiskey cocktail
It’s got to be a Flying Scotsman. Eponymously named after the speed record breaking train…this is absolutely delicious and guaranteed to send you off the rails! https://www.scottishscran.com/flying-scotsman-cocktail-recipe/
In my opinion you can’t beat the classics, my Burns Night playlist definitely includes:
The complete Scottish bagpipe Collection is available on all music platforms https://music.apple.com/us/album/the-complete-scottish-bagpipe-collection/322470599
And of course what party would be complete without a bit of Calvin Harris. This is my favourite: https://music.apple.com/us/album/promises-single/1424361878
So there are so many options that don’t have to involve going down the traditional Haggis, Neeps and Tatties route. But it is quite fun, very easy and not quite so terrible now great vegetarian and vegan haggis options are now widely available at most supermarkets.
As an alternative, I love this book by Michelin star Scottish super chef Tom Kitchen, which has a number of simple, modern takes on Scottish Classics: //www.amazon.co.uk/Kitchin-Suppers-Tom/dp/1849497400 The BBC also has a number of his recipes: https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/chefs/tom_kitchin
4. History and background
If you’re looking to bone up on Burns night, these links will help:
5. Compulsive viewing
Have you hit the box set duldrums and literally cleaned out Netflix? Why not get in the Burns Night spirit with some classic Scottish Cinema: https://www.scotsmagazine.com/articles/top-ten-scottish-films/ Spinning the yarn, The dubious History of Scottish Tartan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKWLtxOEYcI&ab_channel=DiMarcoDocumentaries