How to buy a kilt?

How to buy a kilt? How about size and measurements? It is not difficult, at all. Just something new, if you have always been wearing business suits, jeans and shorts.

How do I get my first kilt?

If you go for a ready-made kilt, take a flight to Edinburgh - when possible and secure again. It is a beautiful city and you'll find many kilt shops.
More likely it is, however, that you'll be ordering it on the internet.

What about taxes and VAT, when buying online?

This web site, being European oriented, is thinking of you as living in a European Union country. Which taxes apply, if any, depend on where the vendor is situated, or rather from where goods are shipped to you.

You order the goods in another European Union country EU> / EU>
Living within the European Union it is extremely simple, if the goods you have ordered come from within the Union, too. You pay the price of the goods, including VAT, plus freight and they are delivered to your doorstep without any formalities or extra cost, just as had you lived in that country.

EU shall probably during 2021 change this procedure by introducing a so called One-Stop-Shop system, meaning that the customer must pay domestic VAT; not that in the seller's country.

You order the goods in a 3rd country - / EU>
All non-EU countries are 3rd countries. That means that on top of the price of good and freight, you must, before the goods are handed over to you, pay

Customs duty, provided the price of the goods is exceeding 150 EUR or the equivalent in other currencies. For a kilt and accessories it is 12% of the customs value. The customs value is made up of 1) the price paid for the goods, 2) the insurance cost, and 3) the shipping cost.

If, in the country of the vendor, there is VAT, he should deduct it, prior to charging you.

VAT, calculated on customs value plus customs duty. The rate varies within EU from 15% to 26%, meaning that in some countries there is something to save on VAT, whereas in others prices go up. As will be the case with the One-Stop-Shop system between EU-countries.

A customs clearance fee, a fixed cost, which varies from country to country and with transporter. You may calculate with about 20 EUR, equalizing 18 GBP. But could be less, coud be more.

You order the kilt from a Scottish vendor Scotland UK / EU>

When we talk kilts and accessories, Scotland is the number one source. UK is now a 3rd country, but as from January 1st, 2021 with a free trade agreement.

This means, in contrary to other 3rd countries:

Customs duty does never apply - PROVIDED manufactured in UK.

Other conditions are the same as for 3rd countries in general. But UK having VAT, contrary to for example USA, means that the vendor should deduct the 20% British VAT before you are paying him. Check that he does. Most Scottish vendors, already sending kilts to American customers, should be aquainted with this procedure.

Depending on the VAT rate in the individual EU country VAT is more or less neutral, and shall be fully neutral after One-Stop-Shop has come into effect.

Annoying, compared to earlier, is first of all the Customs clearance fee.

And another thing: The no-customs rule only applies, if the good has been 100% manufactured in UK. This should be the case with a wool kilt made to your measures, but if a sporran is made in Scotland and the leather comes from say USA, customs duty applies for the part of the product, which is not of British origin. Most complicated.

If you, from a British vendor, are buying a cheap kilt and accessories, meaning made in Pakistan, consider what is better, 1) exceeding 150 EUR and having to pay customs duty of the total value (including freight) and local VAT hereof, or 2) make it two orders, meaning no customs duty, but two times freight and two times customs clearance fee. The best solution might to make sure that total value is below 150 EUR. It should be possible, if you save on accessories.

The rules

Brexit has meant more expensive kilts in Europe. Examples

A kilt ordered in Scotland, price including 20% British VAT, freight 15 GBP and sent to Germany (19% VAT). Customs clearance fee 18 GBP.

60 GBP
(60/1.2) + 15 = 65 GBP to pay to vendor.
(65*0.19 + 18) = 30.35 GBP taxes to pay to state (transporter).
In total 95.35 GBP against 75 GBP in 2020 = +27%

200 GBP
(200/1.2) + 15 = 181.67 GBP to pay to vendor.
(181.67*0.19 + 18) = 52.52 GBP taxes to pay to state (transporter).
In total 234.19 GBP against 215 GBP in 2020 = +9%

Cheap kilts have been considerably more expensive due to the fixed customs clearance fee. But if the same kilts had been ordered in USA, no VAT had been to conduct, and shipment cost should have been much higher. And on the expensive kilt, customs duty had applied (14.28% incl. 19% VAT).

Let’s do it.

Let’s imagine you are going to buy a kilt. Hopefully, you actually will after having read this. Important is getting the size or measures right. Along with the ordering process described below, and being about the same with all vendors, you are told how to. It is not difficult.

If you are ordering a ready-made kilt, all you must decide upon, is tartan and waist size, but you still have to find out, whether the standard length of 24" shall fit you.


Ready-made or custom? Wool or PV? 8 yard, 5 yard, 4 yard and 1 yard = 91.4 cm?
These might be the hardest of decisions to take. When you have, it is about finding the vendor to order your kilt from.


Your choice can change the price. It often does. Popular tartans, like BlackWatch and Stewart Royal should be available without extra charge. They not always are.


The meter-system has long ago become standard in the UK, but when it comes to kilts etc., yards and inches are still used – like with many jeans brands. Recalculation is simple, however:

1 inch (1 in or 1") = 2.54 cm 

A traditional kilt is supposed to sit about navel (your “natural” waist), i.e. higher than most trousers. A casual kilt can be worn lower, however. Take your measure where you want your kilt to sit. Don’t rely on your trouser size! The clothing industry is pleasing their customers by lying about facts. My Tommy Hilfiger jeans waist size is 32” but my kilt waist is 36”!
A kilt being fastened by means of straps and buckles means there is some flexibility, like plus/minus 1 inch. On off-the-peg kilts the flexibility might be even bigger, like for example 34”-38” = 10 cm.


It is where you are at the broadest. Take a lose measurement.

When buying a readymade kilt you are never asked. Then the seat size is based upon the waist size.

Decision #5 - perhaps - SELECT FELL LENGTH

The fell on a kilt is the part where the pleats are sewn down. Unless you are going to order a made-to-measure kilt to be made in Pakistan you are hardly asked, and if you are, you must not give a measure. The "standard" suggestion shall normally make a fine kilt. If you want your kilt to sit low, the fell should probably be shorter. Should you wish your kilt to flare out from the waist line - like on cheapeast of kilts - make it as short as possible. On the other side, never have it too long. The fell should end where you are at the broadest, i.e. where you have taken your hip or seat size measurement. Better too short than too long.


The kilt should at the longest end at the middle of your knee cap. By no means should it cover your knees – even if that not uncommon. At the very shortest it should be one inch above the knee. That means a give and take of about five cm or two inches.

Should you get across the renowned book, So you*re going to wear the kilt by J. Charles Thompson, you’ll see that the author is advocating for short kilts; and that for special purposes they might even be quite short.

So you're going to wear the Kilt

J. Charles Thompson: So you're going to wear the kilt, 3rd revised edition 1989, Lang Syne Publishers LTD, Glasgow.

At the very longest, the kilt should reach only to the top of the knee cap… Don’t get the kilt too short, either. One of the books tells of a Highland gentleman who has his heavy kilt that he wears for shooting and hillwalking three inches above his knees. That way it does not touch the calf of his leg at all. That may be all very well if you are going to have a kilt, especially for outdoor sports, but for a general-purpose kilt an inch above the top of the knee cap is probably as short as you will want to go, even if you like a shortish kilt.

J. Charles Thompson: So you're going to wear the kilt, 3rd revised edition 1989, page 54.

And further he says:

Don’t get your kilt too long! The top of the knee cap is the absolute long limit, and up to an inch shorter is acceptable – better in my personal opinion.

J. Charles Thompson: So you're going to wear the kilt, 3rd revised edition 1989, page 99.

A few examples:
A kilt is a most flexible garment. Below are six different kilts, ranging from 24" down to 20", meaning a difference of no less than 10 centimeters, and five of them can be worn according to rules.

MacKenzei tartan

Too long. Kilt covering the knees. If worn higher OK. 24" 8 Yard PV ready-made kilt. MacKenzie tartan.

Douglas Green Modern tartan

No longer than this. Mid knee cap. Kilt worn at natural waist. 24" 5 yard wool kilt made-to-measure. Douglas Green Modern tartan.

Campbell Ancient

Top of knee cap. The kilt length I prefer. 22.5" 5 yard wool kilt made-to-measure. Campbell Ancient tartan.

Holyrood tartan

About one inch above the knee. Better no shorter than this. 22.5" sitting a little higher than on the kilt on the picture above. 5 yard wool kilt made-to-measure. Holyrood tartan.

Buchanan tartan

About two inches above the knee. Too short, if, like here, worn at natural waist. If lowered as munch as it can, it shall still be acceptable. 21" 3 yard PV off-the-peg kilt. Buchanan Antique tartan.

Buchanan tartan

The same kilt, worn lower and now just within limits.

Stewart Black tartan

A cheap 5 yard 20" made-to-measure PV kilt. Ordered that short from an American vendor. Stewart Black tartan. Here worn high and the kilt therefore about the the length, which before mentioned J. Charles Thompson finds still acceptable for a kilt, "especially for outdoor sports". I think most men should consider it too short.

Stewart Black tartan

The same kilt, worn as low as it could. The lenght now is fine, and the kilt looks OK, as long as the top is covered by a jacket or a sweater, but otherwise it is too short (to be authentic) and is looking more like a low-waist miniskirt.

School girl look

Don't get your kilt TOO short. Especially in countries where school uniforms are common, a short kilt might be associated with schoolgirl's pleated skirts (Tokyo, Japan and Malaga, Spain). Also in Scottish environments where kilts are well known, better be within accepted tolerances.

Taking the measure
I have never been able to use the "kneeling" method" often referred to.

My advice: 
Use a camera or your smartphone, a towel and a belt. The phone or camera should be placed in a vertical position, meaning parallel to the wall and in knee height.

With the belt at navel – or where you should like to fasten your kilt – adjust the towel to the 24” standard length.
With you standing upright (like with your back against the wall) take the picture with the self-timer. If not satisfied adjust the length of the towel until it looks right on the photo and take the measure.
You might also use the smartphone on a selfie stick. Just NEVER lean forward when taking the picture!
Another way is to have your wife or girlfriend assist you.

You might also just order a cheap 24” kilt to see whether the length fits you or not. If not, you can return it and have your money back. Or, if too long, a seamstress can shorten it.
It is a good and cheap way also to feel more assure when you order your next and probably more expensive kilt. And for a lot of tasks that cheap kilt is just right.

Placed at navel a 24” kilt goes to the middle of my knee cap. In my case this length is the absolute maximum. A 21” kilt resting on my hips comes to about one inch above my knee cap, thereby still just acceptable. Fastened at navel it should look more like a mini kilt, however. The perfect kilt length is for me 22.5"-23”. This just to indicate that there is some flexibility – and come in mind we are talking casual kilt wearing, not national dress. I’m 176 cm tall.
For me, better too short than too long.

Decision #7 FULL HEIGTH

Not all vendors will ask. You are supposed to give your height in feet and inches. It is just to give an impression, whether the length you have ordered seems correct. Varying by 2.54 cm it is not a very precise indicator, but if you order your kilt 20” (51 cm) short and your height is 6’9” (206 cm) you might be asked whether you really want it to be a micro mini kilt?

1 foot (1 ft. or 1’) = 12 in. = 30.48 cm.

Being 176 cm tall I’m 69+ inches (176/2.54). That means 5 feet (69/12) + 9 inches = 5'9".

Want that kilt, add it to your cart and proceed to check out. Thereafter wait for it to arrive. With some supplyers it takes about 6 weeks, with others it can be 15. Also something to consider.

Next page



Don't waste your money on things you don't need. A dirk in the belt, a bonnet, feathers, cap badges, and a playd over your shoulder? Absolutely NO. Too much national dress and should look rather ridiculous if worn by a non-Scott. Don't get ripped off on accessories. Which ones do you really need?

What to find on the Dress2kilt site


How about a kilt?

Have you ever been thinking of wearing a kilt, but have given up, because you were not Scottish? You must not be Scottish. You can be 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 kilt causal-first.


Men and kilts

Who will wear a kilt? Don’t I have to be Scottish? Why wear a kilt? Where and when to wear it? What’s the difference between being Scottish and not? What shall other people say? Is it true? How did the webmaster start wearing kilts? These and many more questions are answered.


Kilt definitions

Is the kilt a skirt? Scotsmen will say NO. To them and very many kilt wearers the kilt is a kilt, and not a skirt. And exclusively a man's garment. Calling the kilt a skirt is accordingly considered an almost unforgivable insult. But is it nevertheless a skirt?


Kilt and tartans

What makes a kilt? How much fabric? Are 8 yards of fabric a must? Or will less do? How about tartans? How is a kilt constructed? Straps and buckles, fell, rise, pleats, length, drop. Are you allowed to wear a clan tartan, if you have no connection to it?


Which kilt?

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. Read why. And get suggestions for where to find which kilt.


How to buy a kilt?

The buying process itself is quite simple and almost the same by all vendors. But what might look a bit complicated, is getting size and measures right. Especially the length. It isn't difficult at all. Read on, and you'll know how to do.



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 not even for dress-up events.


Get dressed

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


To mind

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



Let’s be realistic; most likely, you cannot wear a kilt 24/7, even if you should want to. Probably your job is an obstacle. Due to conventions or dress code. But you have 52 weekends a year plus vacations and other holydays...


Non-traditional kilts

Not all men, tired of always wearing trousers, are finding the traditional kilt the best skirted garment. They might prefer a garment less Scottish and with fewer rules to follow. Or they simply consider non-traditional kilts an addition.


Man skirts

Could you as a man wear a skirt? Instead of a kilt or on some days kilt, on others a skirt? Well, the existence of utility kilts with their non-defined designs are part of the answer, so YES, you can. Skirts on men make sense. And skirts for men are to have.


Manly (enough) skirts

Skirts designed for women, but manly enough for men to wear. Could you, by still maintaining a manly appearance wear a skirt from the women's section? Well, it depends. But let's see.


Closing remarks

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, a skirt designed for men, a unisex skirt or one simply looking manly enough to also be worn by men.



Kilts in 31 different tartans, listed alphabetically, plus solid-coloured kilts, utility kilts, man skirts, 'manly' skirts, and pages with a mix of kilts and different skirts - The Braveheart Way'. Altogether more than 50 pages and over 900 pictures. With the only purpose to convince YOU to wear a kilt - or another skirted garment - on a regular basis, without you having a special reason.


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 non-traditional kilts, 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 cat walk.


What's new?

At a glance, find out what is new, has been changed or has been deleted on the D2K site since your last visit.


Reflections in a kilt

A blog outside the website