Traditional dress of Scotland, which is also called the highland dress, changes our understanding of men's costume. Women's outfit is more familiar to us unlike men's kilt. No matter what, Scottish national dress is interesting and extraordinary. And also it is rather hard to put on a kilt and all the accessories correctly, especially when to talk about the phillabeg style of a kilt. You'll need some practice and knowledge for that.
Male traditional dress of Scotland consists of a kilt, a sporran, a sgian dubh (a small, single-edged knife), a kilt hose, and ghillies (traditional shoes).
Men's and women's national Scottish attire
Female traditional dress of Scotland consists of a tartan skirt, a tartan sash or shawl, and ghillies. Skirts can be of different length, historically they are ankle-length, but nowadays women wear knee-long or even very short tartan mini-skirts. There are also long tartan dresses.
Men's Scottish attire
There are several kinds of male garments in Scotland: casual, semi-formal, formal, great kilt attire and ancient kilt attire.
Casual dress usually includes kilt, Jacobite shirt, sporran, belt and buckle, kilt hose and kilt pin. But this attire isn't strict at all you may add any details or accessories. It is an everyday dress.
Traditional men's formal garment in Scotland
Semi-formal dress is more official, but still, it can be used as an everyday attire too. It includes kilt, kilt shirt, argyle jacket, sporran, belt and buckle, kilt hose, ghillie brogues, kilt pin and flashes.
The full formal garment is very official and is used for receptions, formal meetings, festivals and other events. It includes kilt, kilt shirt, prince Charlie jacket, fancy sporran, belt and buckle, kilt hose, ghillie brogues, flashes, and fly plaid.
The great kilt. Episode from the movie "Braveheart"
Great kilt attire is a historical way to wear a kilt. The great kilt is a long tartan piece of fabric that is worn not only as a skirt but as a cloak too. Half of the fabric is pinned over the shoulder and tucked into the belt. Usually, great kilt is worn with kilt hose, sporran, flashes and era correct shoes.
Ancient kilt attire is a historical and traditional dress. Such kilts are made for very cold weather. They are worn with Jacobite shirt, leather vest, bracers, and boots. But accessories vary.
Ladies' Scottish attire
Women's highland dress is not as peculiar as men's one. Usually, it consists of kilted skirt and tartan sash or shawl.
Another variation is a ladies great kilt (called earasaid, aka erasaid or arisaid) and blouse.
Ladies tartan dress
Historically Scottish women didn't wear kilts. But they wore tartan skirts of different cut and models. Ladies great kilt was rather popular since it appeared in the 16th century. Usually, it was made of wool, but sometimes even silk kilts were worn. Women's great kilt didn't use as much fabric as men's did. Also, earasaid didn't have so many pleats, just a few on the back side.
Interesting facts about Scottish kilts
Traditional wedding in Scotland. It is almost obligatory to wear kilts on weddings
- Early kilts weren't as colorful as they are today. Usually, white, black, green or dull brown fabric was used to make a kilt. Only in late 18th-century multicolored tartan patterns were developed.
- First kilts looked like a large tartan wrap. They were often used as a blanket at night, especially at wars. So, they were very convenient and warm, just perfect for the severe climate of Scotland.
- A small kilt (or "little wrap") was developed in late 17th century.
- King George II in 1746 banned people in Highland regiments from wearing kilts. He used this ban to eliminate his opponents' supporters (those who supported Jacobite position) in the army. Maybe because of this ban (which was lifted in 1782) kilt became a symbol of Scottish culture, identity and struggle for freedom.
- Today there are 3,500 different tartan patterns. High-quality kilt always has tartan pattern unbroken throughout the whole garment. That's why it is so hard to make it.
- Nowadays the phillabeg style of a kilt is replaced by the tailored kilt. Today men wear kilts with sewn down pleats, not just gathered and belted. It is easy to wear and use even for a beginner.
- Contemporary kilts are rather trendy and popular today. They are made not only in Scotland but also in US and Canada. Such kilts can be modeled on traditional Scottish kilts or differ from classic kilt much. They are made of cotton, leather, denim or corduroy, and are used as everyday clothes. You can easily buy them online at a pretty low price.
How to wear a full formal kilt outfit with all accessories
How to put on a kilt (phillabeg style)