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March 02, 2015


Sally Schmidt

Who cares what my most versatile outfit was? I'm going out right now to get a Tartan shawl in the hope once I put it on Jamie will show up! Cary Grant would work too.

What a fascinating post. If I'd had an arisaidh all along I wouldn't have needed to carry so many purses and bags.

Sounds like a couple of fun series, off to check them out now. (Thanks, Hank!)

Fran Stewart

Amen, Sally Schmidt! Matthew Macfadyen is another possibility...

Margaret Turkevich

fascinating. My 3in1 fleece/wind and waterproof jacket is my 3 season jacket. The arisaidh would be great to wear on an airplane.

Karen in Ohio

Thank you for the tutorial, Sally! I've always wondered how a plain, flat rectangle of plaid wool could work so well, and for so many things.

The most versatile garment I've ever worn is a haori, which is actually a man's kimono jacket. It's made of silk, reversible, and the long, hanging sleeves make dandy pockets. I used to wear it over a cocktail dress, and didn't need to carry a handbag. The silk made it warm, but lightweight, too.

Hank Phillippi Ryan

So gorgeous! And especially with this terrible winter.. IN fact, it reminds me of a plaid shawl I haven't used for a while.. I think I might give that a try over my coat!

Fran, did you do a lot of research for this?

Fran Stewart

@Karen in Ohio - the haori sounds marvelous. I love silk, too.

And Hank - yes, I love to research my books. Of course, having been to Scotland helped a lot, since I'd actually seen some arisaidhs in action. Buying one myself was the very best way to learn, though. Had a heck of a time putting it on the first time, until I learned to unlace the bodice first!

As to research about Dirk, the ghost - well, I've seen 3 ghosts, so that helped a lot.

@ Margaret Turkevich - yes - it's fabulous for a plane ride. I sat recently next to a young woman who'd worn a sleeveless miniskirt dress (in January - on the way to Chicago!). Needless to say, she was freezing. So, I offered her one end of my arisaidh to cover her arms and legs. There was plenty to go around.

Judy Alter

I want an arisaidh, especially if it comes in my clan tartan. Wonderful post. Looking forward to the book. Meantime going to check out the store where you got yours.

Fran Stewart

@ Judy Alter - I'll be wearing mine tonight at the Eagle Eye Bookstore launch in Decatur GA. In fact, I'll be wearing it a lot! The fact that mine is the Stewart ancient hunting tartan makes it extra special. The Misty Thicket website has almost every tartan imaginable. Would love to see a picture of you wearing yours once you get it!


I'd love to wear one...but only if I had help getting dressed. I'm not sure I could manage that on my own! I really don't have a versatile outfit! But i do keep things in my pockets: lip balm, pen, essential oils, life savers...

Storyteller Mary

The book sounds wonderful . . . The Ghost and Mrs.Muir has been a favorite movie for most of my life. The clothing tutorial reminds me of Renaissance Faire clothing, and an arisaidh would be wonderful when the day turns chilly and rainy, the additional benefit of non-pocket pockets is another boon.
In the "mundane" world, I have a very light cotton pareo that has warmed me in many over-air-conditioned rooms. It weighs maybe an ounce and folds small, and does a surprisingly good job of trapping a comfortable layer of heat.

Fran Stewart

@ Storyteller Mary - you're right; light shawls of any kind are a must in air-conditioning. Here in the hot Georgia summers I sometimes wonder how people managed before AC was invented, but then I walk into a frigidly AC'd room and wonder what we've done to ourselves. 14th-century Dirk would simply not understand !

Fran Stewart

@Katreader - the bodice is what takes the most time - those ties keep getting twisted! On the other hand, everything you mentioned would fit well in the folds of an arisaidh...

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Thank you, dear Fran! And lovely to see you all today...

hope our paths cross in person soon!

Mario in DC

You know, the arisaidh reminds me very much of the ancient Roman toga. Same sort of draping and adjusting; same sort of versatility in pulling part of it up over the head when it rains; same use of the folds for pockets. Indeed, the one difference is that the Romans didn't use a belt to help hold the toga in place. As I recall, if you'd draped it properly, it stayed on simply because it balanced.

Thank you for a very informative and enjoyable essay. And I think you've sold yourself a book. Just read the preview of A Wee Murder, and now can't wait to read the rest.

Fran Stewart

@ Mario in DC - I'll be delighted to have you as one of my much-appreciated readers. Your toga comparison certainly makes sense. I daresay that a lot of cultures needed to find easy ways of dressing (before buttons and zippers), but togas and arisaidhs are both delightful inventions, regardless of the reasoning behind them.

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