Where to buy my first kilt? What kilt? What about sizes for a kilt? The correcy length of a kilt. What tartan?







Despite being a rather frequent kilt wearer I’m neither Scottish nor do I have any Scottish roots, as far as I know. But I appreciate the comfort and variety the kilt provides. And I like the versatility and the way it looks. 
Some few people will praise me for wearing a kilt; most seem to find it OK, realizing that the difference between me and most men is just the kilt. Very few seem to disapprove. So no big deal it is wearing a kilt. As a matter of fact, when kilted I speak to far more people than when wearing trousers – nice small talking. If not about the kilt, then due to the kilt, it seems.


What is a kilt?

A kilt is a knee-length hanging or skirted garment with deep pleats at the rear. It had its origin in the Scottish highlands. Not until the 19th century Scottish lowlanders, counting for 75% of the Scottish population, would wear a kilt at all.

Originally it was a rather primitive garment used for daily wear and had little resemblance with the kilt we know today:

The traditional kilt is custom made in Scotland by a skilled kilt maker. The fabric is eight yard heavy weight tartan in pure new wool from a renowned Scottish mill, and the kilt is stitched by hand for obtaining the utmost precision.

It is not difficult to understand that such kilt must be extremely expensive and only be for the few, who will only wear it at special and few occasions.

Fortunately cost savings are possible without sacrificing too much. Number one saving is in yardage, where now popular 5 yard kilts instead of 8 yard ones mean almost 40% less material. You can go from heavy tartan weight to medium, the kilt can been sewn on the machine rather than by hand, wool can be replaced by a cheaper material like PV, and instead of producing to order production can be industrialized and moved to low labour cost countries, like it is the case with most clothing today, being they cheap or expensive branded things.


Is a kilt a skirt?

According to The European Union Statistics Bureau, Eurostat, the kilt is (no longer) a skirt but a menís special garment.
   Some people shall never stop calling it a skirt, however. If so don't get upset. Quite a few people cannot tell green from red either. Or they are simply stupid.

Well, honestly the kilt is a skirt, or kind of but a very special one and definitely for men.

If you want to see how the kilt is defined, take a look at this page:


Do women wear kilts?

Yes, they do. But their kilts are lighter; they use fewer yardages and have thinner straps and buckles than a (man’s) kilt and they may be longer or shorter. Women’s kilts are called kilted skirts, but more and more just call them kilts, it seems.


How could I, being not Scottish wear a kilt?

Like already said, in recent years more and more men in a lot of countries with and without a kilt tradition and no matter their nationality, colour and heritage, do wear kilts. And, no doubt, even more men should like to, had they the courage to do so. The movie Braveheart (1995) and the Internet - since 2nd half of the nineties - have probably started this development by convincing men with a (secret) preference for kilt wearing they were not alone and could in fact wear a kilt, should they feel like it.


Who will wear a kilt?

No valid statistics exists, but the impression from kilt forums and the like is that men in kilts demographically on most criteria (age, civil status, and family size) resemble men in general but that they, regarding education and income, might be slightly better off than average, and will have some better jobs. Or they are just more communicative than other men. 
By the way, kilt wearing has nothing to do with sexual preferences. I mention this, because ignorant people often question such things and will still connect everything they don’t understand – which can be pretty much – with sexual deviating. 


But why wear a kilt in the first place?


No other manly garment can beat the kilt when it comes to comfort and versatility.
Add to this, it is different, looks great and may be good to your health


There are numerous reasons of whose the following seem to be the most important:

1. The kilt is probably the most comfortable manly garment available

Just think of anatomy. Should clothing be invented from scratch it is likely that rest rooms signs had to be interchanged, meaning that trousers would be the primary choice of women, whereas skirted garments should probably be preferred by men.


2. The kilt is versatile

A casual kilt, for example, can with a few accessories be upgraded to rather formal functions, not possible with blue jeans or shorts. In fact it is often just a question of your choice of accessories. In most European countries a kilt can be worn year-round. At temperatures between -3 and 30 C the kilt is perfect.

In winter, only your knees have to be uncovered and they aren’t cold. The kilt itself with its four to seven meters of fabric, as well as the kilt hose, will keep the remaining parts of your legs efficiently protected against coldness. Your only problem might be all the people freezing in their trousers asking you if you are not cold.  

In summer the kilt is protecting against heat - and sun. In fact, on most days you’ll feel more comfortable than when in shorts. 


3. The kilt is different

The manly wardrobe might not be the most inspiring thing the world has seen.


4. The kilt looks good

That is my opinion. And I like the tartans and so might you.


5. The kilt provides a lot of variety

Thousands of tartans are available, and the kilt itself shall make a splendid addition to your wardrobe, because you no longer have to wear trousers all the time.


6. You stand out from the crowd

- even if by far less than you might fear - or hope for.


7. Health aspects might apply

again due to anatomy and form follows function.



When and where and to replace what?

To me the kilt is first of all to replace jeans and shorts.


In theory, at least, you can wear your kilt every when and everywhere you feel like it.

In practice non-Scots tend to use the kilt as informal casual wear, i.e. to replace shorts and blue jeans rather than to job and formal events.


What differences does it make if you are Scottish or not?

To Scotsmen formal wear will often play a major role and many Scotsmen will wear their kilt only at special events like weddings, celeids, highland gatherings etc. To them the kilt shall often replace white or black tie.

The same implies to men with Scottish roots, living outsode Scotland, but with the important difference that they will often also wear a kilt as daily attire, at least in their spare time.

This means that you might very well have different starting points:

Men who will use their kilt as casual wear - and often become frequent users - will as their first kilt buy a casual kilt, whereas men who will wear their kilt only at special events - and be rare users - will probably buy a more formal kilt – or simply rent a kilt plus accessories.
And between them might be men who need a kilt for all purposes.


The kilt market might actually be driven by Scottish descents (living outside Scotland) and non-Scots!


Isn't a kilt very expensive?

It can be, as said before, but fortunately it does not have to, at least not for casual wear. Here a rather cheap kilt will often do. Just make sure you buy a kilt and not a tartan skirt.
In fact, the availability of affordable kilts might be the condition for most men starting wearing kilts and for a growing kilt market. Without the cheap kilts it is likely that the demand for kilts should decline and eventually make this great garment disappear.


What should Scotsmen think?

Some traditionalists might be against non-Scots wearing a kilt, as they are sometimes against fellow-Scotsmen wearing a kilt as daily attire. These seem to be few, however. Highland wear is something unique and makes a living for a lot of Scotsmen.


Do other people believe I'm Scottish when they see me in a kilt?

It depends on where you are living, I suppose. In Scandinavian countries you are always addressed in the local languages, indicating that you are regarded just a country fellowman wearing a kilt. 
Almost the same is the case in Germany and Holland. In Southern Europe it is probably more expected that you have at least some connection to Scotland.


Should I try to "play" Scottish?

No. To non-Scots the kilt is just a comfortable, versatile, and innovative garment. Accordingly you should, to my opinion, also avoid accessories too much connected with Scottish national dress like the bonnet.


Should I try to eventually give up trousers?

The kilt is a valuable garment which you can wear when you like to and when appropriate. I myself should never give up trousers and shorts. But I shouldn't be without my kilts either. Variety is the spice of life.


Is it true?

You mean going without underwear? But YES. And NO.   

Wearing the kilt as a true Scotsman is called going regimental or commando. In kilted Scottish regiments underwear was (still is?) not allowed and sometimes it was at parades by means of a mirror on a stick checked whether the soldiers obeyed to rules or not. If underwear was seen in the mirror the soldier would be punished.

Fortunately it is entirely up to you to decide what YOU are going to wear under YOUR kilt. No reliable statistics of 'best practice' exists, of course. Some will say that they never ever wear underwear beneath their kilt. Some couldn't imagine being without; and for others it is an on and off business.  

Whatever your choice you better keep it to yourself. If asked - and you will be, believe me - my advice is to never give a definite answer. (Your wife or girlfriend can find out for herself). The uncertainty about the "secret" may very well be the reason why the kilt is still so very much alive.


How do I start wearing a kilt in public?

The answer should be: Open the door and out you go.  But for most men it is not as simple as that.  
If a man wants a tattoo, he'll get it. If he wants his hairs to grow long he will do it. If he wants his tongue, nose, lip, ear or any other part of his body pierced, he will have it done.
But if he wants to wear a kilt, which is without any doubt considered a man's garment, he might not dare to wear it out, because of a slight resemblance with a woman's skirt or just because it is different. 

It is ridiculous, don't you agree?


Should I tell people I know that I consider wearing kilts or already do?

Yes, it might be a good idea. No rumours, then. You could either just tell them up front or have them see pictures, on some of which you are wearing a kilt.

But of course you can also just start wearing it in public and take it step by step. People, with whom you are acquainted, will ask, of course, and you must tell them about your reasons why (comfort, variety, difference or simply that you like wearing it) and how you got the idea in the first place etc.

By the way, these days with selfies, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram it has never been easier to inform friends about changes in lifestyle etc. Add kilt, kilts and kilt wearing to your interests and activities. Or send a message that you have received a kilt and tell about the advantages wearing it etc. And post pictures of you wearing a kilt.
Of course you won’t get 100% coverage but many shall know in a split second.


How will surroundings react?

People who don’t know you couldn’t care less how you are looking or how you are dressing. Men in kilts will largely state that it is a non-event and that their surroundings, relatives and people in their neighborhood, very soon got accustomed to them wearing kilts.

Your wife might worry the most about your kilt wearing – and in all probability without reason, at all. 
That said I have also seen reports about wives having actually talked their husbands into kilt wearing; and the husbands to start with being somewhat reluctant.

Never ever think that you have to "excuse" that you are wearing a kilt. It has been your decision. To you it is a natural thing. A lifestyle of yours, so to say.

If just more men (and their wives) would consider their "world" just half as tolerant as in fact it is, we should see a lot more of kilts around, I’m sure.




My own kilt story in brief


It more or less started back in the mid-nineties during a vacation in Scotland with my wife and, by then, teenage daughter. One afternoon, in Edinburgh, they wanted to go to a shopping mall, whereas I would rather stroll around for an hour and take some pictures.

In a corner house in High Street I noticed a shop selling highland wear. It wasn’t the first one; I had seen a lot of them near the castle. But here were no tourists. I thought of getting some information on highland wear for a business case story I had in mind and to be used in connection with my teaching marketing research and strategy at a business college.

The year before, I had got the idea from "The Scotch House” in London near Harrods’. The store was selling branded goods like Pringle, Burberry etc. but on the ground floor they also had, slightly elevated from the ground, a veritable and very distinguished highland department as a shop-in-shop. To me this highland department was “selling things you don’t need” – a slogan which, by the way, years later a major Danish department store unsuccessfully (and quite understandable) tried to establish as a positive thing.

The business case study was to be about a thought-of Scottish family-owned company selling high quality Scottish clothing for men and women through its own stores in Inverness, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and London. The range would comprise sweaters, shirts, jackets, trousers, skirts, bags, ties, belts and on top of that highland wear (kilts and accessories). Would that same concept be feasible on the European continent? Could Copenhagen function as a test market? And if so, how to establish and monitor it?

It was before the internet, so information on what would be the “impossible” part of the concept was difficult to obtain. I entered the shop and I got the needed information.

But I also ended up being measured for and persuaded to try on a kilt. I immediately got a feeling that a kilt was extremely comfortable to wear; that there was nothing feminine about it and that it was certainly different to men’s ordinary garments. In some way I got hooked, so to say.

I didn’t buy the kilt, however. It was quite expensive and what should I use it for, even if I was told that the shop had a lot of non-Scottish customers from a lot of countries? However, when I left I had in my hand a business card from the store with my measures written on it, just in case, 36”, 43” 23”, referring to length, hip, and length, and after coming home I made the business case study.

About one year later, having got access to the by then rather new internet, I was considering a revision of the business case study. During my surfing I happened to come to a site where a kilt was pretty much cheaper than the one I had tried on in Edinburgh.

Should, should not? It wouldn’t ruin the family economy in any way, but… 
Well, on the Internet I had also seen that non-Scots really did wear kilts, or wanted to…
End of story: A few weeks later I was the owner of a casual kilt plus some accessories.

The quality of my first kilt was not quite up to the standards of the one I had tried on in Edinburgh, but being a non-Scot with absolutely no possibilities to wear a kilt at dress up situations it made the point.

Later I have supplied with some better and more expensive kilts, but without access to cheap kilts I and many others should probably never have started kilt wearing, a thing many fine kilt makers should take into consideration before complaining about competition from cheap kilts.







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