The kilt

What makes a kilt?

Are 8 yards of fabric a must? Or will less do? How is a kilt constructed? Learn about straps and buckles, fell, rise, pleats, length, drop, and tartans.

A lot of fabric

If you open the kilt and place it flat on the floor, your first impression might be what a lot of fabric you have.

Kilt construction

A kilt

A kilt consists of three parts. To the left you have the outer or over 'apron', to the right the under or inner 'apron', the first one to fasten, and in the center the pleated section which is to be at your rear.
Each of the aprons is half your waist size. The rest, the pleated section, will vary with the yardage of your kilt.
You can have 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8-yard kilts. One vendor even has a 2-yard kilt to offer.

Eight yards used to be the norm. Very cheap imported off-the-peg PV-kilts, as well as most expensive wool kilts, are still eight yarders. But today most fine wool kilts might be 5-yard kilts, due to them providing a good compromise between cost, authenticity, and comfort.

The fabric is often referred to as the tartan, meaning both cloth and pattern. According to Oxford Living Dictionaries, a tartan is:


A woollen cloth woven in one of several patterns of coloured checks and intersecting lines, especially of a design associated with a particular Scottish clan.

Nowadays the tartan can also be PV/acrylic. Cheap kilts always are.

Tartan weight

The tartan is defined by its weight in ounces (1 oz. = 28.35 g) for one yard of double width cloth (about 60 inch = 140 cm). An 8-yard kilt can in most cases be made of 4 yards double width or 8 yards single width tartan (about 30 inch wide).

Heavy weight = 16 oz.+
might not be the optimal choice on a hot summer day. To most purists 16 oz. (or more) is a must, however.

Medium weight = 13 oz.
is probably the most universal and popular weight for kilts today.

Lightweight = 10-11 oz.
is primarily for kilts to be used in a hot climate. Purists will say that a lightweight kilt does not have the right swing and that it needs a lot of ironing. It is not what I have experienced myself.

Ultra-lightweight = 8 oz.
Should you want a kilt that lightweight, you might take a look at Californian based Sport Kilt.

In general, a heavy weight tartan is more expensive than a lightweight one, but the price is also affected by the mill that delivers the tartan.

Tartan mills
Reputable tartan mills are Lochcarron, House of Edgar, Strathmore, Marton Mills, D.C. Dalgliesh ( owned), and a few more.

Given an 8-yard kilt takes 4 yards double width cloth the weight should in 16 oz. be over 1.8 kg plus lining, straps and buckles.

Reducing it to 5 yard 13 oz. means going down to about half the weight. And a 4 yard 8 oz. Velcro closed Sport Kilt is about 500 grams only.

Most of my kilts are 13 oz. 5 yard wool kilts.


First of all, tartans are synonymous with the traditional kilt and more than 4.000 tartans are registered. They are

Clan (family) tartans for members of Scottish clans,
District tartans for men with an affinition to a certain geographical area.
Commemorative tartans to celebrate/remember something.
Universal tartans (fashion tartans) for men without clan affiliation.
Corporate tartans, designed for and registered by some companies.

Every man is free to wear any universal, commemorative, or district tartan. And no law forbids you to wear a clan tartan. Provided you wear your kilt in a proper way hardly anyone should object, should you be seen wearing "his" tartan.  And even when, how could anyone prove that you had no “right” to wear it? He himself would probably be wearing trousers, and, by all means, where would his own proof be?

Some tartans are more expensive than others. In general popular and wide spread (clan and universal) tartans are cheaper than district tartans.

A few examples


Non-restricted tartans

Tartans you are absolutely free to use.

Restricted tartans

Clan tartans. If you like them, buy them, wear them, but show respect.

Straps and buckles

A kilt is being held together by a strap and a buckle above each of your hips. At your right hip you sometimes have an extra buckle and a strap. But three are not better than two and two not better than three.

Kilt construction

The strap which fastens the under apron to the buckle on your left.


At the top of your kilt you have the rise. On a kilt, meant for day wear, it is about one inch, equalizing the difference between an ordinary belt and the wider kilt belt and accordingly in practice meaning no rise.
On a kilt to be worn with a Prince Charlie jacket, some kilt makers will make the rise higher to be sure that the top of the kilt is covered by the short jacket. On military style kilts it may be as much as three inches. When ordering be careful with the kiltmaker's instructions. If rise is not mentioned, you may neglect it.

For casual wear a kilt without such rise looks way better than one optically sitting under your armpits!

Drop and length

What you measure in order to get the correct length of your kilt is in fact the drop. And the length of the kilt is drop plus rise. But most often vendors use the words drop and length interchangeably and unless the kilt has an added rise, drop and kilt length shall be the same. But carefully check the instructions given by the vendor or maker.


On a kilt the pleats don’t flare out from the waist but are sewn down and together till where you are at the broadest, usually at your hips. This part is called the fell. A kilt without a fell is no kilt and should be avoided. Ideally you should be asked about length of fell when ordering a kilt. You seldom are. Because not only within photography you talk about rules of thirds. They also exist with kilts. As a matter of fact, on most men the correct height of the fell is one third of the kilt length, when fastened at natural waist and reaching to the knees. Accordingly, you should expect the fell on a 24" kilt to be 8", on a 21" kilt 7". But if you want your kilt to sit lower or be shorter or both the rule leads to wrong results.

Say you want a kilt worn at jeans waist, but still have it end at the top of your knees. Instead of ordering a 24" kilt (with an 8" fell) you order it 22". The fell should, in your case, have been reduced by two inches as well, but probably you get it 7", being approx. 1/3 of 22". The fell is one inch too long.

If you want your kilt to be above your knees and therefore order a 22" long kilt to sit at your natural waist, you can again expect the fell being 7", which is one inch too short.

If you want your kilt shorter and sit at your jeans waist and therefore order it 20", the fell should have been 6", but it shall probably be 7" or one inch too long.

How serious is this? If you ask a kiltmaker, who is going to take your measures and make you an exquisite kilt he shall say that it is extremely important to have the fell correct. If you ask a vendor, having the kilt made to your measures, he shall tell you, that it is without importance. If you ask me, I'll say that a difference of one inch plus or minus is absolutely to live with, in a world being in many other respects far from perfect.


Pleats must be sewn down like on the red kilt, and not start at the waist.


Regarding the pleats, standard is knife pleated to the sett, meaning all the pleats go in the same direction, and that they are arranged in a way that the tartan looks approximately the same whether you are looking at the kilt from behind or from the front. The pleating is the difficult part of kiltmaking, and the more precisely the pleating, the better your kilt shall look – and the more expensive it shall be.
Instead of having your kilt pleated to the sett, you may have it knife pleated to the stripe, also called military pleating. When pleated to the stripe, each of the pleats is arranged according to a chosen colour, rather than to the entire sett. Therefore the kilt shall look quite different when looked at from behind and from the front. Hardly to order on the internet.
A third option is box pleated, meaning that the kilt shall have rather broad, flat panels on the back. Only by few kilt vendors you can order a box pleated kilt.

Apron Fringes

On a traditional kilt the outer apron will normally have fringes. Can be two or three, but also none may be a possibility. When you order a kilt on the internet it is rather unlikely that you shall be asked what you prefer.


Apron fringe.


Your kilt can be hand stitched for utmost precision or it can be sewn on the machine. It can be made to your measures by a skilled kilt maker in Scotland or other parts of the UK, or in the US or Canada. Or it can be made in a factory in Pakistan or another low labour cost country – like practically all the clothes we otherwise buy, being they cheap or expensive brands.

What about prices?

I think above description gives you a picture of something costing a fortune and something perhaps pretty affordable. And you are right. You can have a kilt setting you back £800 or £25. And everything in between.

cheap or expensive

Both are kilts.

The kilt to the left is £50, the one to the right five times as much. Both are kilts. Like cheap jeans and expensive jeans are jeans. Like cheap, as well as expensive cars, are cars.

Next page


Which kilt and how and where to buy it?

Purists will say that no less than a 16 oz. 8 yard wool kilt, sewn by hand by a skilled kilt maker in Scotland or equivalent place will do. But that’s a bad advice, at least unconsidered. What YOU and others need must always be reflected by the intended use. If you are going to wear your kilt at weddings and anniversaries only, they might be right. And if all of your business suits are labelled Armani, Ermenegildo Zegna or the like, and your jeans Hugo Boss, they are probably too. But, talking casual wear in your spare time, they are not. It is overkill. So what do you really need and how and where to get it?

What to find on the Dress2Kilt site?

Kilt, Gunn Ancient tartan, Gilleleje, Denmark, with a view to Sweden.

How about a kilt?

Have you ever been thinking of wearing a kilt, but have given up, because you were not Scottish? But you must not be Scottish. You can be of any nationality, any colour, and any belief. Only you must be man enough. The objective of the Dress2Kilt site is making you wear a kilt whenever YOU feel like it and appropriate. Without needing a special event. It is about causal-first kilt wearing.


Men and kilts

Who will wear a kilt? Why wearing a kilt? Where and when to wear it? What’s the difference between being Scottish and not, related to kilt wearing? What about surroundings? Is it true? These and many more questions are answered here.


Webmaster's kilt story

How come that the webmaster started wearing kilts? When was it? How was it, wearing a kilt for the first time? How were reactions from his wife, his family, neighbours, and other people?


You in a kilt?

When seeing you in a kilt, what should people say? And especially your significant other? And the ‘Kilt Police’? Shall people think you are Scottish? How about prejudices? Should you tell people you know that you have started wearing kilts or are about to do it? How do you tell them? What should your reasons be? See answers to these and many other questions here?


What makes a kilt?

Are 8 yards of fabric a must? Or will less do? How is a kilt constructed? Learn about straps and buckles, fell, rise, pleats, length, drop.


Is the kilt a skirt?

Scotsmen will say NO. To them and very many kilt wearers the kilt is a kilt, not a skirt. It is a garment of its very own, they say, and exclusively for men.
Calling the kilt a skirt is accordingly considered an almost unforgivable insult. But is it nevertheless a skirt?

Buy a kilt and accessorize it


Must a kilt be expensive?

Yes, purists will say, because no less than a 16 oz. 8-yard wool kilt, sewn by hand by a skilled kilt maker in Scotland or equivalent place will do. But are they right? Read why they are probably not.


Get the measures right

Buying your first kilt is something quite unusual. Most likely you shall buy it online, and often it shall be made to your measures. Buying a kilt is not difficult, however, and with a kilt there is some give and take. Read on, and you'll know how to make it right.


Something to pay on top?

Details might only be of interest to EU-citizens.
What you have to pay for your kilt might not be, what you saw on the price label. And it is not only a question of shipping cost. Read about customs, VAT, and customs clearance fees when ordering your kilt in a 3rd country.

Pakistani kilt

A cheap kilt

Probably most kilts today are not sewn in Scotland, but in Pakistan. In common these "imported" kilts have that they are affordable. Some shall give you real value for your money, others little - or worse - no value. Read about where to find good, nevertheless cheap kilts.

USA Lilts Casual

A moderate priced kilt

Some established Scottish and American kiltmakers know that affordable kilts are the condition for having men start wearing kilts, especially those having no Scottish roots. They therefore offer some very good kilts which they will position as casual kilts, probably for not hurting the rest of their business. For casual wear they might be all you need. Pay under £300 and get a fine 5-yard kilt in pure new wool, which you can also wear in La Scala or the Met.


A premium priced kilt

You'll hardly get an 8-yard kilt in pure new wool for under £300 or the equivalent. It shall be much easier to find one costing twice or three times as much. Not all premium priced kilts are sewn in Scotland. Examples are USA, Canada, England, France, and Austria.

Kilt accessories

Kilt accessories

Don't get ripped off on things you don't need. Find out, which accessories are must-haves, which are nice to have, and which you shouldn't consider at all for casual and smart casual wear, and some not even for dress-up events.

Utility kilt

A utility kilt

Utilty kilts have existed since 2000. Judged from the number of vendors who are offering them, the market for these kilts must be big. They come in very many different designs, some better than others.

Non-tartan kilt

Other kilt variants

Kilts can also be solid coloured, or come in a camouflage pattern. They can be made of tweed, denim, or leather. They can be traditional in style, or their design can deviate to the extent where they become utility kilts - or skirts.

Wear a kilt


Kilt on!

Let’s assume you have just received and unpacked your first kilt, and the accessories you ordered. How to handle and wear all the unfamiliar things, the sporran, the belt, the socks, the flashes etc.?
What else to wear with your kilt?


To mind when in a kilt

Now being ready for taking your kilt out into public for the first time, is there anything you should mind? Something to worry about or calling for your attention? After all a kilt is something very different, just the way it looks and especially, how it feels, wearing it.


24/7/365 in a kilt

Now being ready for taking your kilt out into public for the first time, is there anything you should mind? Something to worry about or calling for your attention? After all a kilt is something very different, just the way it looks and especially, how it feels, wearing it.

Skirts and closing remarks

Man skirts

Man skirts

Could you as a man wear a skirt? Well, the existence of utility kilts with their non-defined designs is part of the answer. You can. Skirts on men make sense and dedicated man skirts are on the market, even if very rare. Another possibility is having a skirt designed and made for you, making it a man skirt.

Woman's skirt worn by a man

Simply skirts

Is it possible, emphasizing a manly appearance, to wear a skirt intended for women? It very much depends on the avalability of appropriate skirts. Looking at women's fashion these years, skirts tend to be increasingly feminine, too feminine for a man to wear, or they are simply replaced by dresses. Another important thing, of course, would you?


Closing remarks

Thank you for having visited this site. Hopefully it has contributed to bring you an important step further. Now show to the world that you are man enough to pull that 'skirt', whether a traditional tartan kilt, a solid-coloured kilt, a utility kilt or some other kilt variant, a sarong, a skirt designed for men, a unisex skirt or one simply looking manly enough to also be worn by you.



Galleries Main Page

Links to gallery pages showing traditional kilts, solid-coloured kilts, utility kilts, man skirts, simply skirts, and pages with a mix of kilts and different skirts - 'the Braveheart way'.

Tartan kilts

Tartan kilts

Choosing a tartan can be difficult with, in principle, more than 4,000 available. In praxis they are much fewer, however, but still, it shall take you. Hundreds of kilt pictures on 32 pages, listed alphabetically and one page per tartan, might give you some indication of where to go.

Non-tartan kilts

Traditional non-tartan kilts

A traditonal kilt must not have tartans. Solid coloured kilts are becoming more and more popular. Most often they are black, but also other colours are a possibility. Three gallery pages.


Utility kilts

If you have no Scottish roots or just want a kilt less connected with tradition and rules you might prefer a utility kilt over a traditional kilt. Or you might consider a utility kilt just an addition to your other kilts.
On seven pages you'll find slide shows featuring different utility kilts. One page for each kilt.



If not too keen on a kilt, or for just more variety, a skirt might be a possibility. On for example a hot summer day an appropriate skirt, to be worn instead of shorts, could even make more sense than a heavy kilt.
On five gallery pages you’ll find examples of custom-made skirts, man skirts, and simply skirts, being maybe manly enough.

The Braveheart way

The Braveheart Way

The Braveheart Way is about MEN being brave enough to include skirted garments in their wardrobe, and who dare wear them out in public, On two gallery pages kilts and skirts are mixed together with the purpose of helping you find YOUR Braveheart way, with or without a mix.



Links #1

Vendors of traditional kilts, from cheap, typically imported Pakistani kilts, whether off-the-peg or custom-made, to more expensive kilts, sewn to-your-measures in Europe or in America.
Vendors of accessories.
Tartan-mills and tartan-finders.


Links #2

Vendors of utility kilts, sarongs, man skirts, unisex skirts, "manly" skirts, and some shorts.


Links #3

Kilt and skirt forums, non-commercial home pages, blogs, picture galleries, videos, articles in print media and on the internet, men in kilts and skirts on stage and on the catwalk.

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