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

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The kilt not being national dress to you, keep it simple.
You can get a lot of accessories. And very few are needed.


1. CASUAL WEAR

You might go with just the kilt. However, I think you should soon feel the need for some accessories.

Just the kilt. A cheap 4 yard PV kilt from a vendor no
longer on the market. Buchanan tartan.


 

A sporran - a must have

Plain day wear sporran

 

With a traditional kilt you need “pockets”, which in most cases means a purse called a sporran.

Go for a plain leather day sporran – without the noisy and annoying tassels most sporrans on the market come with. The tassels make you sound like a drummer when you are walking. It is OK to most kilt wearers, it seems. To me it is not.

Often sporrans with tassels are cheaper than those without them. If you don’t like the noise they produce, cut them off but be sure that the remaining holes are covered by the flap.

Heritage of Scotland and Buyakilt.com sell some nice most affordable ones.

Heritage of Scotland (leather sporrans)

Buyakilt.com (sporrans)


If you have pockets in your jacket or you carry a bag with you, you could, of course, go without a sporran, but it is definitely against rules. Kilt and sporran are often considered strongly connected items.

However Scotweb, a major kilt shop puts it this way: 

Most people would still think that a Traditional 8 yard kilt looks right only when worn with a sporran, quite apart from the practicality it lends to a garment without pockets in giving you somewhere to carry those coins and keys.

But a Casual Kilt is quite another story, and it is entirely a matter of style. If you wish it to resemble the traditional 8 yard garment, a sporran is probably still desirable. But if you are wearing your Casual Kilt as a versatile fashion garment, then how you accessorize is a purely personal style statement. It’s cool either way!"

Scotweb Information Centre

Do as you like. Going without one adds to comfort and therefore I, too, on longer walking tours sometimes leave the sporran at home.

Casual kilt in Royal Stewart tartan worn without a sporran

 

I think a sporran suits a kilt and on 9.5 out of 10 days I'll wear one, even if it is empty, because I then have my things in a photo bag or my pockets.
 

5 yard James Morrison Kilt from Heritage of Scotland. Gunn Ancient tartan,
13 oz. pure new wool. Black day sporran, bottle green kilt hose. Black wind breaker and sneakers.

 

Sporrans are with a very few exceptions delivered with a metal sporran strap. For casual war I prefer a leather strap, however. It is a simple DIY project.

The standard metal sporran strap can be a little bit hard for your kilt...

 

... therefore I have made me some black and brown leather straps for my day sporrans.


 

A belt - a must have

Technically there is no reason to wear a belt with a kilt. By means of buckles and straps it stays up perfectly well.

However, a kilt looks at its best together with a 2 ¼-2 ½ inch wide belt.

An original
kilt belt & buckle might be a little bit overdressed for casual wear, nevertheless it looks quite good and wide-enough ordinary belts are hard to find elsewhere. Also most belt & buckles are very affordable, so go for such one. 

Heritage of Scotland (belts, belt & buckles)

I will practically always wear a belt & buckle.   

Belt & Buckle, brown. The buckle is the standard type. The belt is length adjusted by means of a strap and a small buckle inside the belt.   

Belt & Buckle, black, with inside Velcro adjustment, which is the common solution today. I prefer strap and buckle, however. You can buy the belt and the buckle separately which gives you the option of getting other (more expensive) buckles, like this one. The buckles are exchangeable.


Kilt hose - a must have

Kilt hose in lovat blue. These are from Brewin & Co. They are very good and cheap, but are a bit to the short side. For me they are fine.

 

Long socks, called kilt hose are common with the kilt. They are basically "over knees" and meant to be folded down about one inch (2.5 cm) below your knees.

White socks, whether long or short, are not to everybody’s taste; nevertheless most kilt hose are probably white or off white. The reason might be that they'll go with practically every kilt.

Other popular colours are black, lovat green, lovat blue, bottle green, dark grey, and navy.

For casual wear you might scrunch or roll your socks down.

Brewin & Co. (kilt socks)
Heritage of Scotland (kilt socks)

I have socks in most colours, including white ones.

Be aware that kilt hose must not be solid coloured. In fact many highlanders like diced ones. I myself definitely prefer solid coloured hose.



Thompson Camel tartan, white kilt hose


I like the long socks up to my knees. But when temperatures are high I often scrunch them down; or I will wear just ordinary socks. To this traditionalists shall object, however. They shall by every temperature wear thick hose and up to their knees.


Garters   a must have

To simply keep your kilt hose stay up you might need garters which in fact come as garters and flashes.

Finding flashes overdressed for casual wear? Just remove the flashes from the garters. The garters themselves are invisible when your socks are folded down just below your knees as they should. And when you need the flashes put them on again. It is very easy.

Garters. They always come with flashes. These are in Thompson Grey tartan

In combination with pulled up socks I will always wear the garters. The flashes, however, only for dress up situations.


A kilt protector   depends

A traditional kilt - could be over four square meters of heavy tartan - must be dry cleaned; indeed something to keep in mind should you consider going commando. You might be in the market for a semi commando solution, solving the hygiene problem without reducing comfort.

One maker of expensive kilts, Slajn Kilts, makes practical flaps which can be zipped on and off their kilts.

More likely it is that a kilt liner might be the solution.

A kilt liner is in fact, simply a thin skirt or what women might call a half slip. Even if making a lot of sense, obviously only two companies are selling kilt liners; probably because traditionalists will reject them.

One option is G. Lieberman & Sons. Their kilt liner is $25 + freight + VAT, if you are an EU citizen. Judged from the picture on their homepage their kilt liner looks rather narrow and might accordingly feel a little bit restricting.

 

Hush-hush solutions
Practically the same thing you can find at half or a third the price and just around the corner - provided you can accept it to be sold as a skirt.  

If this does not scare you away, rather than buying a similar authorized kilt liner, being after all an almost identical skirt-thing, and which nobody should see or be informed about anyway, go looking for a circular skirt version, often referred to as a skater skirt.

H&M sell this cheap and washable circular jersey skirt, placed over the kilt. It makes the perfect kilt liner and the price should in most countries equalizing only 10-11 EUR / £9. It comes in neutral black and grey - plus a few other colors which I should not recommend. 46 cm/18 inch long, 3 yards wide. Size Large fits waists up to 38-39".

A circular skirt / skater skirt is, contrary to authorized kilt liners wide, really wide, around three yards, accordingly much more like a kilt. The elastic waist and the jersey fabric you’ll probably know already from your underwear or sport clothes. Nothing feminine per se therefore about that; just open, roomy underwear; when worn under a kilt.

Nobody shall know you are wearing a "skirt" but your precious kilt shall be efficiently protected against you.

And regarding comfort? It may even beat the ‘real commando thing’.

If you think it must look exactly like a kilt liner you can have an even cheaper solution, by the way.

Jersey skirt from H&M 46 cm/18 inch long, 1 yard wide.
7 € / £6.

However, if tradition and rules are to be followed, forget about this advice and do what do you must.

On windy days or when you have to do a lot of sitting there certainly are better, more straight- forward solutions than going full or semi regimental. And even then the kilt is a most comfortable garment.

Sorry, but what I do is none of your business!  

This ends the list of the high land items you need when wearing traditional kilts in a smart casual way.


 

2. Dress up a little

You might invite your wife to a nice restaurant or go to the opera house or theatre. In these cases you'll probably need some more:

 

A kilt jacket  a must have

First of all a jacket, because men's ordinary jackets are too long to wear with a kilt and should look rather ridiculous. For this purpose you should invest in an Argyle (Argyll) or Braemer, of which the Argyle is the most popular one. It is available in various colours like lovat blue, lovat green, and of course black, the latter probably being the most versatile one.

Price point is around £200+.

Black Argyle kilt jacket, tie, 5 yard James Morrison kilt in BlackWatch tartan and semi-dress sporran from Heritage of Scotland


Flashes  a must have

Well, you could go without them, but supposing you have garters, you also have flashes. Use them. For formal wear I think they are great. How to wear them? I have seen several suggestions on the internet. The most common should be “10-14 o’clock”, meaning the flashes pointing slightly forward on the legs.  

They are available in many colours, like blue, green, red, and in tartans. If tartan flashes, ONLY the same tartan as your kilt.

Dark blue flashes

Flashes and kilt the same tartan (BlackWatch). Kilt pin.
Part of a Heritage of Scotland kilt package

Heritage of Scotland (kilt flashes)


A semi dress sporran   nice to have

For dress up situations the leather sporran is considered too ordinary. Therefore the front is decorated in some way. Earlier it was always seal skin, but as seal has been forbidden in many countries, including on a big market like USA, sporran makers have come up with new solutions.

Semi-dress sporran. Part of my kilt package from Heritage of Scotland.

On many occasions I will simply wear one of my plain day sporrans.


A kilt pin   nice to have

You might also want to wear a kilt pin. It should be fixed approx. 3 inches up from the bottom of your kilt and three inches in from the apron edge. It is for pure decoration and by no means should the kilt pin keep the layers of your kilt together. It is only to fasten to the outer apron! Or you're in a risk to ruin your kilt. The oversized safety pin is for ladies' mini kilts.

Heritage of Scotland (Pewter kilt pins)

Kilt pin. Part of a kilt package from Heritage of Scotland

Another kilt pin and one of the oversized safety pins which sometimes comes with cheap eBay kilts - and ladies' mini kilts. As far as I know no regular kilt shops are selling them. Better leave the safety pin for your wife to wear.

I will only wear a kilt pin at dress up occasions


A sgian dubh    nice to have, but...

The sgian dubh is the Gaelic name for the special knife to be worn in your right (or left) kilt hose. Be aware, however, that in some countries the wearing of it could bring you to jail if the blade is a little bit too long. And don't even think of wearing one in an airport. 

Sgian dubh. Part of a kilt package from Heritage of Scotland.
It isn't sharp - so you cannot peel an apple with it, but as it can still function as a dagger you might better not wear it where you are at a risk to be imprisoned for wearing illegal weapons.

A plastic sgian dubh

You can get sgian dubhs made of harmless plastic, and nobody knows until you draw it. Be aware, however, that also replicas of weapons may not be permitted on board an airplane or they might otherwise be considered illegal. 

Heritage of Scotland
(day wear sgian dubhs)

I will only wear a sgian dubh at dress up occasions and when at no risk of being accused for illegal possession of weapons.


Ghillie Brogues   nice to have

Special shoes with long lashes. Until recently something I never owned, but they were part of the kilt package.

On YouTube I searched for advice regarding what to do with the long laces. I soon realized, however, that opinions on how to lace up ghillie brogues the correct way are numerous. I did my best and may be blamed for doing it wrong should I meet an expert. The laces are not very visible together with black kilt hose, however, so next time I may chose bottle green or even off white socks.  

Ghillie brogues. Part of a kilt package from Heritage of Scotland.

Ghillies a tad too much in combination with an Argyle jacket? Perhaps they are. But then I could think of buying me a Prince Charlie with a waist coat. And then, of course, also a dress sporran. So nice it should be for weddings and the like. If just there was one or two to attend.


The total kilt package 

I bought a so called kilt package from Heritage of Scotland, comprising a 16 oz., 5 yard James Morrison kilt, a black Argyle jacket, a semi-dress sporran, belt & buckle, tartan garter flashes, a kilt pin, a tie, a sgian dubh, and ghillie brogues. You can to some extent customize your package.

Kilt package from Heritage of Scotland arrived.

5 yard James Morrison kilt, a black Argyle jacket, a semi-dress sporran, belt & buckle (not to see), tartan garter flashes, a kilt pin, a tie, a sgian dubh, and ghillie brogues.



Don't

A dirk in the belt, a bonnet, feathers, cap badges, and a playd over the shoulder: Absolutely NO.

Too much national dress and should look rather ridiculous if worn by a non-Scot.

 


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