Hot! The “Tartan Leopard” Ensemble

The Facts
Fabric: 55% acrylic, 45% wool St Michael kilt from England in the early 1980s; Ann Taylor leopard print silk dress with poly lining from the late 1990s
Pattern: none
Year: early-80s and late-90s meet 2012
Notions: button and kilt pin included in kilt
Time to complete: less than 3 hours
First worn: 5/13
Wear again: yes!
Total cost: $0

What a satisfying challenge!  I’ve managed to transform two garments from my family that have lingered a good long while into an outfit I’ll actually wear.  And I didn’t even spend any money.

My grandma, on one of her trips to her homeland in the 80s, bought the kilt for my mom.  I’m pretty sure there were matching kilts for my sister and me, but they’re gone.  Just like last week, I’m impressed by how svelte my mom was.  The waist was at least 3 inches too small for me, my hips barely squeezed in, the length hit me at mid-calf, and the whole effect was pretty terrible.  I wanted to do something voluminous, pencil, and asymmetrical like this awesome Vivienne Westwood skirt,

Source: via Lee on Pinterest


but I had to settle for a much simpler refashion due to the amount of fabric and the industrial-strength pleating.  I didn’t want to fight that pleating.  There was plenty of fabric in the middle front where the sides overlap and the kilt is pinned, so I just took out the pin, moved the waist way over, and chopped off several inches from the hem.  The front is very slightly asymmetrical now, an age from Vivienne, more schoolgirl uniform.  I cut the top to hang down over the tiny bulge in the left hip, where there will never be enough fabric to fit me; I’m not going to worry about it.


About the top, it used to be a beautiful below-the-knee bias-cut dress that my sister cast off sometime around 2000.  Because it’s very well made and fit me perfectly–and I do like a leopard print– I’ve hung onto it even though I’ve never ever worn it, not once.  I don’t know why.  Even after all these years, it was difficult to cut into it.  I’m so glad I did.  I did a machine rolled hem (using the normal presser foot) on both layers just like I did for my circle skirt.

I felt a little guilty mixing up my prints in two different garments, but you can rest assured the kilt will always be worn with the leopard.  There are no other options.  The top may see more action, as it should after taking up space in my closet for years as an unworn dress, but I honestly doubt it.  Do I feel guilty that I got away with some cutting and hemming this week?  No!  Wish I’d taken “before” photos, but I dived into this one.  Also wish I still had my worn-to-death black lace up boots to toughen up the look a bit.  I like it though; it feels like me.



Lee is a highly educated stay at home mom with a lot of projects. She lives in New York City.


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  1. Great upcycling! I love it when we can make something out of other garments. You did a suburb job. I like the print and color combo. It would look cool with your boots too.

  2. Hey Lee, great combo and I like the sassy style. Cool photo with the brick wall back drop.

  3. Clever refashion work! The leopard/tartan combo is a pleasant, unexpected surprise — a suburban glam meets classic prep kind of style that totally suits you…especially with the oxfords. i like this outfit a lot. And you should definitely shed any guiilt you have about your creative interpretation of the challenge — we had free reign to combine two or more prints in an outfit. You nailed it…and in my book, earned cool points for being green (upcycling) about it.

  4. Hey, i love it! If someone had said ‘tartan and leopard spot’ to me, I’d have said ‘WOT’. Love it. (already said that, so double love!)

  5. That is so fun! It’s great to see you make two un-wearable things work for you. It would be fabulous with knee high lace up boots though ;-)

  6. How cool is this?!?! I would have NEVER thought to mix an animal print with a tartan, but it looks AWESOME! I Second, Leimonmi, you need some combat boots :)

  7. Leopard, tartan, what a perfect combo! Love it!

  8. Big fan of plaid and leopard print. Looks fab Lee, very you.

  9. The animal print with the tartan makes me think of the bagpipe bands – in a good way. I love ’em. The top and skirt work so well together.

  10. Who knew plaid and leopard was so kick ass together!?!!? I love that you’ve worked with potentially dead clothing and made something wearable. You look amazing!

  11. That is one awesome combo Lee!! love it. (and don’t you just hate it when you find your mum’s old clothes are too small.. sigh)

  12. I’m a big fan of tartan and a big fan of leopard but probably wouldn’t have tried that on me, HOWEVER, you totally made this work!!

  13. I cannot tell you how much I love this combination of red tartan and leopard print….and am VERY glad to hear they will continue together. I’d never thought of that combination but without a doubt will have to try it myself. Thanks for the inspiration!

  14. Belated thanks! What happened to this week?