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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Do-It-Yourself kilt jacket

Many people have heard me recommend getting an inexpensive men's jacket (from a thrift store, or a charity organization such as Goodwill or Salvation Army) and shortening it to wear with a kilt. I've had several people ask me about my experiences with this, and how the finished jackets actually look, so I thought I'd share my most recent acquisition with you.

The jacket I'm wearing in the picture to the left was given to me by a friend who scours the second-hand stores. I'm not quite sure where she found it, or what she paid for it, but I'd guess it was less than $5. Cost to me was free! How could I pass it up? It's a Harris tweed jacket, and there is nothing more authentically Scottish than Harris tweed. What better cloth for a good kilt jacket?

It fit me perfectly (44L) but was entirely too long to wear with the kilt. I have a black Argyll jacket that I use for formal or semi-formal wear, and a brown Harris tweed jacket that had been cut down to a kilt jacket that my friend Bob Martin gave to me. But I thought a nice grey jacket was just the thing for casual wear with some of my kilts (like the Mull tartan kilt I'm wearing in the picture). Plus this jacket was rather heavy and would be great for winter wear.

So I took it to a local alteration shop (if your town doesn't have one, it really should). I wore my kilt in, and put on the jacket. I simply showed the lady where I wanted it to fall on my hip, and she pinned it in place. Many people wonder about adding on features typical in standard "kilt jackets" such as guantlet cuffs, epaulettes, etc. I wasn't worried about these. I have them on my formal jacket, and they are fine, but this coat was for casual wear. Another concern is moving the pockets when you shorten the jacket. Again, I was not worried about that. The jacket has a rather large inside breast pocket, and between that and my sporran, I can carry just about whatever I need. So I told the seamstress to just sew the other pockets shut and not worry about them.

The alteration shop had it all summer. I could have gotten the jacket quickly, if needed, but as it was such a warm jacket I told the lady I really didn't need it until the weather turned cold. I just picked it up on Thursday this week. Total cost was all of $25. And for that sum I have a nice looking Harris tweed casual kilt jacket. Can't beat that price for anything! She even replaced the rather ugly buttons that came with the jacket (they looked like something that belonged on a couch cushion from 1973) with something more appropriate from her "button bin." One day I may try to find some nice horn buttons for this jacket, but in the meantime it is still more than auitable.

With the abundance of good Harris tweed jackets to be found in thrift stores everywhere, you too can have a nice looking jacket to wear with your kilt for a similar paltry sum. Posted by Picasa