Living in Edinburgh, Burns Night is a big deal, and no ensemble would be complete without a nod to tartan. For last month’s bash, however, I wanted something more than just a token sash, and I knew exactly where to go.
Totty Rocks is the brainchild of school friends Holly Mitchell and Lynsey Blackburn, who studied at Edinburgh College of Art before carving out careers in the fashion industry – Mitchell remained in Edinburgh, where she worked on her own label and designed colourful cashmere for retailers such as N Peal, while Blackburn became a successful freelance stylist in London. They shared a vision of owning an atelier boutique and opened their doors in 2006. Today, Totty Rocks is Edinburgh’s go-to for relaxed, tailored garments that are classic yet cool.
Tartan certainly gets a look in but there’s plenty more besides: standout pieces include the structured tweed and velvet Miss Tweedy short jacket (£245, first picture), pussy-bow Sofia dress (£189), and timeless high-waisted trousers (£119, second picture). Customers can purchase off-the-peg, but as Mitchell says, “Not many people will fit a standard size perfectly, so we prefer to make everything to order.” Blackburn agrees: “We want you to look the best you can within your frame.” It’s this attention to detail and one-to-one service that has enticed customers from Kate Moss to, more recently, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, whose sartorial makeover is largely credited to the two designers.
It was a dress I was after, and I was bewitched by the Black Watch tartan. Under Mitchell’s guidance I opted for a tuck shoulder, a deep V-neck and a flash of gold buttons at the nape of the neck and inside the skirt’s box pleat (although you can tweak the design to your own specifications). The result was a flattering 1940s silhouette that, thanks to being cut on the bias, gave the fabric much more fluidity – essential for when one finds oneself reeling full-speed around the dance floor.