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.
Kilt Society sells some nice most affordable ones and some more expensive sporrans, some of them coming with leather strap instead of the normal chain strap!
Kilt Society - sporrans
But do I really need a sporran?
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. But there is, after all, no kilt police.
Scotweb puts it this way:
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!"
Kilt Society says:
“The simplest way to dress down your kilt is to ditch the full dress or semi dress sporran. Instead, opt for a more casual day sporran, like our Military Style Leather Sporran. Alternatively, ditch the sporran altogether.”
But if you ditch the sporran, where then with your “personal” stuff? Pockets in a wind breaker, a photo bag, or you will wear a shoulder bag of some kind.
If your kilts are designed to sit low, you probably shouldn’t wear a sporran.
I think a sporran is suiting a kilt. Going without one adds to comfort. Therefore on longer walking tours I will rather often leave the sporran at home. Or I have it in my photo bag and will take it on when i'm in more 'civilized' surroundings.
With my USA Kilt Casual which is ordered to sit low, I at most times shall go without a sporran. The same with my Sport Kilt, where the sporran strap would come in the way for the built-in side pockets.
But in general I like wearing my sporrans.
Casual kilt in Royal Stewart tartan worn without a sporran
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:
The standard metal sporran strap can be a little bit hard for your kilt. It is what many frequent kilt wearers think. Therefore, for casual wear I prefer a leather strap. It is a simple DIY project:
I have made me some black and brown leather straps for my day sporrans.
There are exceptions to every rule, Kilt Society being one of them. This nice leather sporran in tan actually comes with a leather strap:
The sporran is also to get in black and brown. £60 in tan, £55 in black and brown. You can also use it with a standard chain strap, but why should you?
Kilt Society HAND MADE MILITARY STYLE LEATHER SPORRAN.
On pictures of HRH Price Charles he is rater often seen wearing a similar sporran)
Want a cheaper, still nice sporran? I have been wearing this most affordable sporran day in day out for about four years and in all kinds of weather. It has got some patina, but is still a fantastic sporran. Leather quality and sewing are simply excellent. And only £25 - with chain strap, which I, however, have replaced by a DIY leather one:
Kilt Society Smooth Leather Sporran with Celtic Pattern.
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; and with Velcro closure, too.
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 kilt belts and buckles are most affordable, so go for one. This "standard kilt belt" from Kilt Society is available in black, brown, and tan. The price is only £15:
Kilt Society Standard Kilt Belt. In black, brown and, as shown above, tan.
On the picture above the buckle has been attached. It is a simple "Celtic knot buckle". Buckles are to buy with varios ornamentation and are exchangeable. Prices from about £10 to five times as much or more. I like this cheap one because of its pretty clean design. £12 at Kilt Society.
If you are wearing a sweater untucked - as it should be - there is no reason for also wearing a kilt belt. If you are wearing a waist coat, you should not also wear a kilt belt!
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.
They come in many colours. 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.
Kilt hose must not be solid coloured. In fact some Scots like diced ones, I have been told. I myself definitely prefer solid coloured hose. Mixing different patterns is in my book bad taste.
For casual kilt wearing you might fold or scrunch the socks down.
All kilt vendors I know of are selling kilt hose. Otherwise I can recommend Brewin & Co. via Amazon.
Many of my kilt socks are, however, (forgive me) ladies’ over knees. H&M have for some years been selling some most usable ones. They are available in black or charcoal grey and off white. They are thick and hardly to differentiate from original kilt socks. They are rather affordable, are to get 'around the corner', and extremely durable. Contrary to most 'authorized' kilt socks
they will also stay up by themselves, meaning no garters are needed!
Drawbacks: Not available on all markets and biggest size is EUR 39-41/US 8-9.5. They will, however, also fit men's feet size up to EUR43/US10.5.
Thick H&M Over Knees make the perfect men's kilt 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. Except if you are wearing above mentioned H&M Over Knees.
Finding, like me, 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.
Kilt Society - standard plain colour flashes. £8.
Garters always come with flashes. These are solid coloured blue and they will go with a lot of tartans. By Kilt Society you can have them at £8. (Standard plain colour flashes). You can also buy flashes in various tartans. They are more expensive and you can use them only together with a kilt in the same tartan.
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 kilt jacket, because men's ordinary jackets are too long to wear with a kilt and should look absolutely 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 level £150-£250.
Kilt Society Essentials Braemer Kilt Jacket and Vest
Kilt Society Essentials Black Argyll Jacket
And what should be my favourite:
Kilt Society Custom Made Wallace Jacket
Black Argyle kilt jacket
Flashes You probably have them already
Well, you could go without them, but supposing you already have garters, you’ll also have flashes. While finding them overdressed for casual wear I think they are fine when dressing up. How to wear them? I have seen several suggestions on the internet. “9-15” o’clock should be OK, but better “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. Like said already, if tartan flashes, ONLY the same tartan as your kilt.
Flashes and kilt the same tartan (BlackWatch). Kilt pin.
Heritage of Scotland.
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 a big market like USA, sporran makers have come up with other solutions.
Kilt Society Black Bovine Thistle Semi Dress sporran
On most dress-up 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 is to 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 destroying your kilt.
Kilt pins are available in many designs. From about £10.
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.
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.
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.
I will only wear a sgian dubh at dress up occasions and when at no risk of being accused for illegal possession of weapons.
The full packet, tie, Argyll Jacket, semi-dress sporran, 5 yard wool kilt in Black Watch tartan, kilt pin,
sgian dubh, flashes in Black Watch tartan, and Ghillie Brogues (special kilt shoes).
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.
4. Under your kilt?
What you wear – or don’t wear - under your kilt is a matter of personal preference. But the idea of wearing the kilt “as a true Scotsman” on a more or less regular basis might appeal to most kilt wearers. Before you let go of your underpants keep in mind: Wool kilts must be dry cleaned and even if PV-kilts are machine washable they might still need a lot of ironing.
You might therefore be in the market for a solution, solving the hygiene problem and still letting you 'feel the breeze'. It is called a kilt liner. Even if making a lot of sense, obviously only two companies are selling them, one of these being G. Lieberman & Sons. Their kilt liner is $24 + shipping (+ VAT, if you are an EU citizen). It is 46 cm long. The other one hasn't changed his website for 12 years, so whether he is still active, is a big question.
It could indicate a tiny market, to be explined by the fact that men might simply consider underpants a natural thing to wear, even under a kilt. Or that traditionalists are rejecting anything between them and the kilt. Or that a lot of kilt wearers might not know about the existence of kilt liners, or they have found other solutions like the one I’m going to suggest to you.
A kilt liner is, in fact, simply a thin skirt or what women might call a half slip. Practically the same thing you can find at half or a third the price, probably just around you - provided you can accept it to be sold as a skirt. I think of a circular skirt, also called a bell shaped skirt or a skater skirt.
Such skirt is, contrary to the “authorized” kilt liner, wide, really wide, and accordingly much more like a kilt, in fact. The elastic waist and the jersey fabric you know already from your underwear or sport clothes. So nothing feminine per se about that. When worn under a kilt a skater skirt is just open, roomy underwear, that shall protect your precious kilt efficiently against you.
But how about comfort, you may ask? I guess you'll find this “semi-commando” solution at least as good as the ‘real thing’.
This washable circular jersey skirt makes the perfect kilt liner.
Depending on how often you plan wearing your kilt you may need more than one of these protectors. And no problem, they are cheap. The one shown here is from H&M but a lot of stores are selling them. The H&M thing is £9/10 EUR. It comes in neutral black and grey and is 3 yards wide. The length, by the way, is exactly the same as the Lieberman kilt liner, 46 cm or 18 inches. Size Large fits waists up to 38-39".
However, if tradition and rules are to be followed, forget about this advice and do what do you must.
Also, 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.
What I do? I do. But what I do when and how often is none of your business. Sorry. I know. And my wife will always find out. Point.
I think the non-answered question helps keeping the kilt alive; is somehow justifying it and the wearing of it.
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