Kilts … A Real Man’s Dress

kilt skirt

Ever wonder what’s going on under there? Kidding. This isn’t one of those posts. I’m here for educational purposes in the name of history only. I’m sure you all know what a kilt is, but do you know where it came from? Its purpose? Its variants? Well, pour a cuppa or a wee dram and let me enlighten you.

The Great Kilt of the Scottish Highlands evolved over the 16th century as the predecessor of great plaidwhat we recognize as the kilt today. In the beginning it was a woollen cloak, or plaid, worn over a tunic that was up to seven yards long. The perfect length to pull up over your head to shield against the winter chills. Around the 18th century the small kilt appeared, to the dismay of many a Scot, with thanks to an Englishman for his employees in iron smelting.

Alas, in 1746 after the Battle of Culloden the English decided to punish the Scots for their rebellion with The Dress Act which outlawed all Highland dress including the tartan and kilt. It was repealed in 1782, thank goodness. In 1822, King George IV of England ignited the popularity of the kilt when he visited Scotland. It was at this time the Lowlanders jumped on the kilt wagon, and the romantic version of clan identification by tartan was born.

Typical items to wear with a kilt include an Argyll or Prince Charlie jacket to look dapper, kilt diagrama sporran to hold your baubles, sgian dhubs (black knives) tucked into your long hose in case you get caught in a dark alley or need to cut a steak, kilt flashes which are little ribbons that dangle from the socks, and a pair of shiny brogues to keep your feet safe.

Got any kilt stories of your own to share?

A to Z blog hop at Patterings.


  1. Kathleen Rouser

    The only kilt story I have is about my niece’s husband, who is from Scotland. When they got married, the groomsmen rented kilts instead of tuxes. And that was here in America. That’s when we first learned about the sporran and the sguin dubh, which I always pictured as skin doo! I always learn something new from your posts, J’nell.

    1. J'nell (Post author)

      Oh how I wanted to have kilts at my wedding! But I’ve Scottish from several generations back, and my husband is Polish. I’m gonna cross my fingers for a Scottish son in law so I can still get the tartan on. Thanks for sharing Kathy!

  2. Karla Akins

    My son loves to wear kilts. I got him a towel that looks like one complete with a printed sporran. It’s really cute. My husband is part Welsh from the Island of Skye. The rest of him is Native American. His folks are from the Appalachian mountains. 🙂

    I think kilts are extremely attractive. Love a handsome man in a kilt!

    1. J'nell (Post author)

      I’m with you, Karla. Nothing sexier than a man in kilt. I’m still trying to get my Polish hubby into one. He says he’d feel like a fake if he wore one. The Island of Skye is beautiful! How lucky!

  3. Natalia Thostrup

    I find your site looking for ideas to finnish my husband´s kil because here in Argentina we cant buy them in stores, we have to make them. He and our daugther both dance in a Scotish Band. Anyway your site is excelent, Congratulations!!!

    1. J'nell (Post author)

      Hi Natalia! That’s so awesome that your family is involved in Scottish dancing! Wish mine was, but alas, we have two left feet. Which tartan do you plan to use for your kilts? I’d love to see pictures when you’re done! Best of luck making them and thanks for reaching out!!


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