The Scottish Kilt

The Scottish Kilt

Scottish kilts are known as National Dress of Scotland and are a highly recognized form of dress throughout the world. Kilts have cultural and historical roots in the country of Scotland. A skirt worn by both men and women, the kilt plays an important role in the history of Scotland.

There are two types of kilt:

The Feileadh Mor (The big kilt)

The Feileadh Mor also known as Great Kilt or the Breacan Feile, and the more common Feileadh Beg.

Is just one length of double width tartan, usually 7 yards in length which is gathered into pleats and belted round the waist. This is the type of kilt that was used in the filming of the movie Braveheart.

This is considered the battle Kilt and is rarely seen in Scotland these days.

The Feileadh Beag (The little kilt)

Is a hand or machine sewn kilt which is worn just above the hip and fastened by buckles, this is the most common kilt. This is the most common type of kilt that is worn around the waist and fastened with a buckled belt.

This is considered a dress kilt and is often worn today at celebrations such as weddings, National sporting occasions or New Years Eve,(Hogmanay).

Which Tartan Should I Wear?

If you have a surname that has Scottish connotations then it is most likely that there is a tartan or plaid out there that has been registered under your family name, such as, McDonald, Campbell or Stewart.

My own surname is Paterson and with a little research I discovered that my surname belongs to the clan of Campbell therefore if I was to choose a tartan to wear it could be Clan Campbell but I could also wear the Paterson family tartan.

If your surname belongs to a Scottish Clan see here:

Clan name and Surname are not the only factors that you can use when choosing your tartan, There are other factors to be considered especially if there is not a tartan related to your name.

  • Clan Tartan
  • Surname Tartan
  • District Tartan
  • Universal Tartans
  • Corporate Tartans

I live in Ayrshire in Scotland and as well as being able to wear My Campbell clan tartan or my Paterson family tartan, I could also wear the Ayrshire tartan and of course being from Scotland I could also wear the National Scottish tartan, The soccer team that I support even has it's own tartan that I could also wear if I so desired. I could also wear a Regimental tartan if I had served in the armed forces with a Scottish Regiment.

Most countries around the world have a registered tartan and almost all of the States In America have a registered Tartan.

The Female Kilt

Although the National costume of Scotland, the kilt was considered a male only outfit, women who wore the kilt were Frowned upon and women could even be fined for wearing the kilt in public. Women who were brave enough to wear a kilt in public were classed as Hookers or harlots.

Scottish women would wear a tartan shawl or scarf or an arisaid, a cloak that extended to the heels. It was usually made of a non-dyed wool with a few bright lines or stripes on it, fastened at the breast with a metal brooch and around the waist with a leather belt.

At celebrations women would often wear a Tartan or plaid sash in the same colors as her husband or father.

What To Wear With The Kilt

What should you wear with the kilt if you are following tradition.

  • Prince Charlie Kilt Jacket (Pictured below)
  • Ghillie Shirt (Not in Picture, a shirt with an open V neck that ties with laces)
  • Kilt belt with buckle
  • Sporran (Used to keep your money and other valuables)
  • Broach (Pictured above)
  • Socks
  • Sock Tassles (Pictured below)
  • Sgian Dubh (A small dagger tucked into the sock)
  • Ghillie Brogues (leather shoes with long laces that tie around the ankle)

What I don't mention is Underwear it is an open secret that a true Scot wears nothing under the kilt.

What To Wear With The Kilt Women

The only real traditional way for a woman to wear the kilt Is when Highland dancing, although a lot of women wear plaid or tartan skirts in everyday life.

There are no hard and fast rules for wearing tartan as it comes in so many variations it can compliment many different fashionable styles. 




Kilts Scottish Culture and Traditions fashion history