We normally get asked about these tartans by customers who don’t know about their Scottish family connections, who have no connection with Scotland, or non-Scots. A universal tartan is one which anyone can wear, without offending anyone. This view has changed dramatically over the past 50 years and in fact when you wear a clan tartan, it is now seen as a sign of respect and friendship towards the family/clan. So although universal tartans are not associated with a family/clan, you can be safe in the knowledge that choosing a tartan that you like, be it universal or a clan tartan, you will always be welcomed with open arms. There are a few tartans which are restricted, meaning not everyone can wear them. The Balmoral tartan for example, can only be worn by members of the British Royal Family and there are still some clan tartans that can only be worn if the Clan Chief allows you to. There are many universal tartans you can wear if you do not have, or want to wear, a clan tartan. Some universal tartans commemorate a special event or person that you would like to respect. Some other universal tartans have been created to celebrate a district or geographic area that you have an affinity with, for example, a place where your relatives lived. The main reason to pick a universal tartan however is simply because you like the colours and the design. It could go well with a colour scheme at a wedding or matches the tweed jacket colour you like.
What are some universal tartans you could wear?
Royal Stewart Tartan
Possibly the most famous universal tartan is the Royal Stewart tartan which was originally designed for Queen Victoria and chosen by Sir Walter Scott for King George IV’s visit to Scotland when the laws surrounding tartan being banned, began to be lifted. Today, the Royal Stewart is the most highly produced tartan used in multiple products, not just kilts. Although still classified as the Queens Tartan, the Scottish Register of Tartans states “In the same way that clansmen wear the tartan of their chief, it is appropriate for all subjects of the Queen to wear the Royal Stewart tartan”.
Black Watch Tartan
World-renowned and instantly recognisable, the Black Watch tartan is a staple of the highlandwear industry and represents Scottish culture across the globe. This tartan commemorates Scotland’s most famous army regiment which you can read about here. Used to make many products, including tartan accessories, the Black Watch tartan’s dark tones and bold colours make it a firm favourite with our customers.
Silver Mist Tartan
The Silver Mist tartan is one of our own tartan designs which is included in our Mist Range of tartans. The tartan was inspired by the enchanting mist that comes down over the hills and waters of the Highlands. A firm favourite with our customers and one which is available to hire and buy from our collections. The darker tones go perfectly with darker grey tweed jackets and waistcoats.
Another stunning design and one which is used often for products outside kilts, including scarves and wedding accessories, due to its beautiful tones and flexible styling with other colours.
The Lindsay family have a rich history, initially recorded in 1120 in Scotland, the family was a prominent member of the UK establishment until the Wars of Independence which split the family. The family moved to other parts of the world and is still a hugely popular name around the world, along with its family’s tartan.
Isle of Skye Tartan
The Isle of Skye is a stunning tartan which its soft, subtle colouring. The colours and sett pattern were designed to celebrate the ravishing natural beauty of the Isle of Skye, which is often referred to as the Misty Isle.
Connected to Scotland by bridge, the Isle is known for its rugged landscapes, beautiful fishing villages and medieval castles.
Islay Mist Tartan
The Islay Mist tartan is another of our own collection of tartans within our Mist Range. For this tartan we took inspiration from the Isle of Islay. Heavily inspired by the breathtaking landscapes and sunsets from one of Scotland's most iconic Hebridean Islands.
The main colours we pulled out were ocean shades of grey and blue, deep purples, and rosewater. We created several different variations of the tartan through CAD design drawings, but decided on our final design; as we believed it would complement all of our premium and hire jackets, making it suitable for any occasion.
Scotland Forever Tartan
The Scottish Register of Tartans includes in its registration notes about the Scotland Forever tartan “'Scotland Forever!' is without doubt the best known war cry of the traditional Scottish regiments. It was most famously used by the Scots Greys on their timely and victorious charge at Waterloo in 1815. It spread throughout the ranks of the other Scottish regiments including the Royals, the 42nd and the Cameron Highlanders.”
I want to wear tartan, but I don’t want to wear a kilt
The beauty of tartan is its flexibility and versatility as it is used across many of our products, not just for making kilts. We offer many tartan items that you can wear with pride, including ladies wear, blankets and neckwear.
Does my family name have a clan tartan?
To find out if your family name has a clan tartan, you can use our helpful Tartan Finder. Enter your name into the search box and a list of tartans associated with your name and products available to buy in the tartan will appear. If you don’t find a tartan straight away, you can use different spellings of your name or use your mothers maiden name. If you still cannot find a tartan connected with your name, contact us and we can do a deeper search for you, as your name may be connected to a sept of a clan.
You can also use our A-Z of tartans to go through all the options. With over 4,000 tartans, there is plenty to look through!
If you wanted to take it a step further, you can also speak to us about designing your own tartan. A unique process which once finished, will allow you to have a registered tartan available for use for generations to come.