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The Scottish Kilt

Updated on August 11, 2014

Scottish Battle Kilt

The Great kilt was most popular in the Highlands of Scotland from the late 16th century until the mid 17th century.
The Great kilt was most popular in the Highlands of Scotland from the late 16th century until the mid 17th century. | Source

Fun Kilt Facts

To make a full sized Kilt it takes seven yards of wool, wool actually comes in nine yard rolls. in days past rather than ask for seven yards of wool to make a kilt, kilt makers would ask for "The whole nine yards," which of course has become a rather famous saying these days.

The Scottish Kilt

The kilt is the national dress of Scotland, a skirt worn by both men and women, the kilt plays an important role in the history of Scotland.

There are two types of kilt:

The Feileadh Mor also known as Great Kilt or the Breacan Feile, and the more common Feileadh Beg.

The Feileadh Mor (The big kilt)

Is just one length of double width tartan, usually 7 yards in length which is gathered into pleats and belted round the waist. This is the type of kilt that was used in the filming of the movie Braveheart.

This is considered the battle Kilt and is rarely seen in Scotland these days.

The Feileadh Beag (The little kilt)

Is a hand or machine sewn kilt which is worn just above the hip and fastened by buckles. this is the most common kilt. This is the most common type of kilt that is worn around the waist and fastened with a buckled belt.

This is considered a dress kilt and is often worn today at celebrations such as weddings, National sporting occasions or New Years Eve,(Hogmanay).

The Dress Kilt

The Dress kilt is still popular today and is often worn on special occasions.
The Dress kilt is still popular today and is often worn on special occasions. | Source

Fun Kilt Facts

Tartans and Plaids

There are over 13000 different tartan designs although only around seven thousand of these are Scottish the remainder of tartans registered are from different countries around the world.

Which Tartan Should I Wear?

If you have a surname that has Scottish connotations then it is most likely that there is a tartan or plaid out there that has been registered under your family name, such as, McDonald, Campbell or Stewart.

My own surname is Paterson and with a little research I discovered that my surname belongs to the clan of Campbell therefore if I was to choose a tartan to wear it could be Clan Campbell but I could also wear the Paterson family tartan.

Find out if your surname belongs to a Scottish Clan here

Clan name and Surname are not the only factors that you can use when choosing your tartan, There are other factors to be considered especially if there is not a tartan related to your name.

  • Clan Tartan
  • Surname Tartan
  • District Tartan
  • Universal Tartans
  • Corporate Tartans

I live in Ayrshire in Scotland and as well as being able to wear My Campbell clan tartan or my Paterson family tartan, I could also wear the Ayrshire tartan and of course being from Scotland I could also wear the National Scottish tartan, The soccer team that I support even has it's own tartan that I could also wear if I so desired.

I could also wear a Regimental tartan if I had served in the armed forces with a Scottish Regiment.

Most countries around the world have a registered tartan and almost all of the States In America have a registered Tartan.

United States Tartans.

Most American states have registered a Tartan, This one is for California.
Most American states have registered a Tartan, This one is for California. | Source

Fun Kilt Facts

In November 1969, Astronaught Alan Bean, took a small patch of Tartan to the moon, The Mc Bean tartan flew to the moon in Apollo 12 and is the only tartan that has ever done so.

The Female Kilt

Although the National costume of Scotland, the kilt was considered a male only outfit, women who wore the kilt were Frowned upon and women could even be fined for wearing the kilt in public.

women who were brave enough to wear a kilt in public were classed as Hookers or harlots.

“lest they be taken for loose women or suspected persons.”

Scottish women would wear a tartan shawl or scarf or an arisaid, a cloak that extended to the heels. It was usually made of a non-dyed wool with a few bright lines or stripes on it, fastened at the breast with a metal brooch and around the waist with a leather belt.

At celebrations women would often wear a Tartan or plaid sash in the same colors as her husband or father.

Queen Victoria Was An Avid Tartan Supporter

Queen Victoria was an avid Tartan supporter and helped make it easier for women to wear The Scottish National dress.
Queen Victoria was an avid Tartan supporter and helped make it easier for women to wear The Scottish National dress. | Source

Fun Kilt Facts

in 2008 a Jewish tartan was created by a Scottish rabbi and a Singh tartan was created by the Asian community living in Scotland.

What To Wear With The Kilt

What should you wear with the kilt if you are following tradition.

  • Prince Charlie Kilt Jacket (Pictured below)
  • Ghillie Shirt (Not in Picture, a shirt with an open V neck that ties with laces)
  • Kilt belt with buckle
  • Sporran (Used to keep your money and other valuables)
  • Broach (Pictured above)
  • Socks
  • Sock Tassles (Pictured below)
  • Sgian Dubh (A small dagger tucked into the sock)
  • Ghillie Brogues (leather shoes with long laces that tie around the ankle)

What I don't mention is Underwear it is an open secret that a true Scot wears nothing under the kilt.

Traditional Kilt Accessories Men

The Sgian Dubh is a small dagger typically worn in the sock, you wear it on the same side as your prominent hand.
The Sgian Dubh is a small dagger typically worn in the sock, you wear it on the same side as your prominent hand. | Source

What To Wear With The Kilt Women

The only real traditional way for a woman to wear the kilt Is when Highland dancing, although a lot of women wear plaid or tartan skirts in everyday life.

There are no hard and fast rules for wearing tartan as it comes in so many variations it can compliment many different fashionable styles.

Highland Dancing

The only traditional kilt attire for women
The only traditional kilt attire for women | Source

Donald Where's Yer Troosers Scottish Humor

Kilt Poll

What do you think of men wearing Kilts?

See results


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    • Thomasjames1992 profile image

      Thomas James 

      4 years ago from London

      hahah great hub mate! Id love to visit Scotland even though i am from London i haven't' been yet lol

    • Oztinato profile image

      Andrew Petrou 

      4 years ago from Brisbane

      Och theres nothing like a wee kilt on a bonny lassie!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      The skirt reference in your survey reminds me of my reply to people that call my kilt a skirt, I always reply that "underwear is used under a skirt"

    • Lynn Nodima profile image

      Lynn Nodima 

      5 years ago from United States

      I enjoyed reading this. My daughter married an Elliott. I knew there was a Scottish link there, but what I didn't know what that my husband's name was related to the Maxwell name. Interesting.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Andrew Petrou 

      5 years ago from Brisbane

      There are a few cultural items in the world that bring a mysterous joy and good natured humour to ones heart and for some reason the scottish kilt is one.

      The plaintive sound of a lone piper at dawn is a truly deeply moving experience.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I saw a man wearing a kilt at Walmart just the other day. It was a strange sight around here. As far as I know, there was no pageants or anything of that nature going on. Cool hub, good topic and interesting.

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 

      5 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      My mother-in-law, may she rest in peace, loved the tartan plaids! My father loved to listen to the unique sound of bagpipes playing when he was alive.

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image


      5 years ago from Florida


      I enjoyed your informative hub and I believe men look great wearing kilts.

      I love the music, the way the Scottish speak and their zest for life. I haven't done the family tree on the Purvis side of my family---but the name might be Scottish.

      Have a great week.

      Bobbi Purvis

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 

      5 years ago from West By God

      Now that was very interesting. I voted up and then some. That is cool they took it to the moon. Thanks for updating this.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      5 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Very interesting and fun to read hub Jimmy. Well done. I never knew where the saying "the whole nine yards " came from. Now I do. Voted up and shared.

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 

      5 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)


      What a well-researched, fascinating article! Before traveling to Scotland a number of years ago, I did some research and learned that my boyfriend's plaid was Stuart of Bute.

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Neat Info. Thanks for taking the time to inform us.

    • jimmythejock profile imageAUTHOR

      Jimmy the jock 

      12 years ago from Scotland

      thanks chuck to you and your family too...jimmy

    • Chuck profile image

      Chuck Nugent 

      12 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Great Hub, Jimmy. I never gave a thought to what the expression "the whole 9 yards meant", and now I know. I can't wait to impress my friends with this new bit of trivia. I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas.

    • jimmythejock profile imageAUTHOR

      Jimmy the jock 

      12 years ago from Scotland

      i haven't heard that 1 i will need to look it up lol thanks for the info .....jimmy

    • sapheyerblu profile image


      12 years ago from Western Nebraska

      My favorite song is by Jim Stafford and called "Under the Scotsman's Kilt". It's a riot.


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