To Kilt or Not to Kilt,
That is the Question…

There’s a mystique that surrounds a man in a kilt. He conveys strength and stature, while adding the allure of romance.

When there are bagpipes playing as well, the impact heightens.

Something happens when a man wearing Highland wear arrives, especially a bride groom.

Is it the flair as the pattern, pleats, and colors move with each step? Perhaps the rake of his bonnet?

Whatever it is, the British recognized this element and its impact. After the Battle of Culloden, they banned the Highlanders from wearing their Scottish clothing and playing the pipes.

Summary:

  • Famous Men in Kilts Photo Gallery
  • Actors and the Movies
  • What’s On Underneath?
  • Highland Wear History
  • American Utility Kilts
  • What Tartan Weight Works for You?
  • Carriers for Highland Gear
  • Choosing a Feileadh mor or Feileadh beag
  • Patterns of Pleating
  • Rental Sources
  • Used Sources
  • Do-It-Yourself Sources
  • Sources for New Kilts
  • Kiltmakers
  • How to Wear Your Scottish costume

Famous Men in Kilts

Whether you’re bold and daring, refined and quiet, sophisticated or a little rough around the edges…any man looks good in an authentic Scottish costume.

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In the following Photo Gallery you’ll see Ewan MacGregor, Prince Charles, Mel Gibson, Vin Diesel in black leather, Dick Clark, Sean Connery, Scotty from the original Star Trek, Samuel L. Jackson, and many others famous and everyday men in their tartans.

Actors in Kilts

Actors in Kilts in different genres, from the 1930 to the present, kilts have gone to the movies ~ in comedy and , drama, love and hate, war and peace, absurdity and fantasy, history and athletics.

What’s On Underneath?

When a man dons a kilt, the women are drawn like bees to honey. Even the shyest will venture forth to ask, “What do you have on under there?”

To which a true Scotsman has several replies ready…

  • Give me your hand and I’ll show you!
  • Nothing is worn underneath. It's all in perfect working order.
  • The future of Bonnie Scotland
  • Shoes and socks

After the Battle of Waterloo, during the occupation of Paris, the French were fascinated
by the Highland uniforms and what wasn’t worn underneath.


When a man puts on his tartan, the jokes and jests just come naturally. If people see that their teasing doesn’t bother you, they’ll quickly drop the jokes.

Who’s Day Is This?

Brides, in most societies this is “your” day. You are usually the center of all the attention. But if the men wear authentic Scottish costumes, they could steal your show. You’ll still be the bride, but the spotlight will be shared with those tartans and what’s in them.

Think about birds. The females are more subdued in their coloring. The males are bright, colorful, and draw the attention...especially the peacock. The females aren’t any less beautiful, it’s just the coloring draws the eye to the males.

Scottish clothing is the same way ~ the many colors and patterns of the tartans stand out. The swishing and pattern of the pleats are almost a dance in itself.

If you dress all in white, you will more likely be lost in the crowd. A splash of tartan can compensate by adding color. It can be your family tartan, the groom’s family tartan, or a tartan in the color scheme of your wedding theme.

Traditionally the bride is given a piece of her groom’s tartan. This can be anything from a small square that’s pinned on your wedding gown with a lovely Luckenbooth brooch to an arasaid. This signifies you becoming a member of his clan ~ with it’s rights and responsibilities.

But let’s get back to the men…
The word kilt is both a noun and a verb. To kilt is to gather into vertical pleats. A kilt is part of the Scottish costume.

This is a fluid garment, adapting as needs and occupations change.

History of Highland Wear

Tracing the development, from it’s beginnings as a leine and brat through Queen Victoria’s reign and the regiments, will help you select the era you wish to portray.

American Utility Kilts

The

latest adaptation in Scottish clothing is quickly catching on, both in the U.S. and Scotland. Worn for everyday, plus other occasions, this is an American innovation in fabric, style, color, and utility.

What Weight Tartan Works For You?

Where you live and the season of the year will determine the weight of tartan you can comfortably wear. If you rent, your options are limited. If you buy your outfit, you have more choices.

The weight of the tartan can vary. In most circumstances don’t even consider an 8-ounce tartan. For extended use, it will stretch out, won’t hang correctly, nor look crisp. An 11-ounce tartan will hang nicely, but a 13-ounce tartan is optimal. An 18-ounce tartan is great in winter, but too hot in the summer over most of the U.S.

The exceptions on the 8-ounce tartan are if you only plan to wear it dancing or as everyday, washable, rough-and-tumble Feileadh beag.

Dry cleaning a pleated garment is very expensive. When properly cared for, a 13-ounce tartan will rarely need cleaning and pressing. After being worn, you simply hang it up with a skirt-type hanger and let it air before storing.

Depending on your size, verify that the maker uses 8 to 9 yards of fabric.

Transporting & Storing Your Scottish Clothing

A new innovation is the Roller or Carrier available from online sources.

Feileadh mor or Feileadh beag?

Another decision to be made is whether you’ll wear a Medieval leine and brat, a Renaissance era feileadh mor with a doublet jacket, or a feileadh beag from the mid-1700’s through modern times. What overall time frame you want your wedding to portray and what style of gown the bride wants to wear will, in part, determine which style you select.

But if you both desire different fashion eras, remember even in each of the historical eras, there were brides and grooms who opted to wear clothing of an older fashion ~ such as a bride’s grandmother’s gown, a groom wearing his father’s wedding garb, or economic necessity. Keep this in mind, but wear what you’re comfortable in.

If you’re going to buy your Highland wear, then you have a choice of the sett, or pleating pattern.

Patterns of Pleating

There are two choices as to how a modern feileadh beag will be pleated. If you wear a rental, you probably won’t have a choice.
  • To the sett is pleating that shows full repeats of the tartan design.
  • To the stripe pleating is folded so a dominant stripe occurs on the same place in each pleat. Other names are regimental pleat or military pleat.

Image courtesy Flkr.com ~ jake@untitled13

To the Sett is on the left, to the Stripe is on the right.


So the big question now is where do you find your authentic Scottish costume?

Shall I Rent, Buy, or Sew My Own?

Are you going to wear your Scottish clothing just this one time and never don it again?

Are you developing an interest in Highland Games, piping, Robert Burns dinners, or Tartan Day celebrations? Then buying may be worth your money, as you would wear your Highland outfit multiple times over the years.

There are clubs and special nights beginning across the country for men interested in donning Highland attire. Watch for classified ads and flyers or check at the local Irish, Scottish, or Celtic pubs.

If you want to wear a traditional feileadh mor, you’ll have to buy the tartan yardage to fringe yourself or buy one ready-made. If you want to wear a feileadh beag, your options are to rent, buy, or sew one.

  • Rental Companies
    There are several U.S. Rental Companies. If this is a one time occasion, renting is the best option.

    The formal rental package usually includes a modern The formal rental package usually includes a modern feileadh beag, an Argyll or Prince Charlie jacket, a belt & buckle, a sgian dubh (utility knife), a sporran with a chain belt, and flashes with garters. , an Argyll or Prince Charlie jacket, a belt & buckle, a sgian dubh (utility knife), a sporran with a chain belt, and flashes with garters.

    A less formal package will include a Jacobite shirt rather than a jacket.

    Packages start at $100 and go up as accessories are added ~ a vest with the Prince Charlie jacket, pin, hose, ghillie brogue shoes, tux shirts, and bow ties.

    Each supplier has their own combinations and each of them varies, so study what they offer vs. what you want to wear in your wedding.

    Ringbearer rentals usually include a modern feileadh beag, sporran, hose, flashes & garters, and a bowtie. Some include Prince Charlie jackets and cummerbunds. Small boy rentals start at $45.

  • Used Sources
    First a word of caution, if it doesn’t fit your measurements exactly ~ don’t bother. The cost of alterations would cost more than a new one ~ and it still won’t fit right.

    eBay.co.uk has some used kilts. But you have to wade through a maze of inexpensive 5 yard kilts to find them. Ebay U.S. has a very limited listing of kilts.

    Some of the Rental Companies have occasional used kilts for sale. Find out what time of the year they replenish their supply and check back with them for possible purchases.

  • Do-It-Yourself
    If you want to make your own Great or Military Kilts, there are many sources for tartan yardage in wool, silk, synthetics, cotton, and blends. The Tartan Store is a good place to start ~ their selection of tartans and fabrics is vast, while their prices are very reasonable.

    A more complete listing of Tartan Sources is available. There are 34 tartan sources listed in the U.S. and the U.K. ~ including tartan ribbon sources.

    For more information on kiltmaking supplies, patterns, and books, the Kiltmaking page has what you need to sew good quality, crisp, professional kilts.

  • Sources for New Highland Outfits
    Most rental and sales sources carry a wide variety of kilt and jacket styles, a broad selection of tartans, and all the accessories.

  • Master Kiltmakers
    For top-of-the-line custom kilts. The best source I know of is Ann Stewart in Leeds, New York.

    Rumor has it that she is retiring, but the website is still up. My son has one of her kilts ~ it hangs beautifully and he says it’s worth every penny of the cost.

    Update May 2017: Ann has apparently retired and her kilt business has been passed to Hazel Stewart in Penfield, New York.

How to Wear Your Highland Outfit

Once you have everything ready to wear, here’s a handy reference that shows what the pieces are called and where they go.

Image courtesy clipart.com>


Here’s clear, concise instructions you can print out and keep handy. They explain how to put the pieces on correctly, including how to tie your Ghillie Brogues when the laces are too long.

A more complete source of information is the book, So You’re Going to Wear the Kilt, by J. Charles Thomson, ISBN# 0 86228017 6. This is an excellent source for selecting your Highland wardrobe, how to wear it, and how ladies should wear their sashes.

If you’re a brave do-it-yourselfer, there’s detailed directions for altering military and formal jackets to wear as part of your authentic Highland wear.

After reading this book, you will don your apparel with assurance and elan, while avoiding errors in Highland dress etiquette.

Many of the resource companies listed above carry this “Bible” of Highland wear. pattern company also sells the book.

Sometimes they’re available as used books at Amazon

~~~~~~~
During Queen Victoria’s reign, the British love affair with the Highlands flourished in influential circles. Highland wear became a fashion statement as well as a practical article of clothing.

In modern society, Scottish weddings have grown in popularity. It’s no longer unusual to see the groom, his attendants, the ring bearer, and the fathers dressed in Highland attire. Even guests are joining in, wearing Scottish clothing.

Your choices of adding tartan are almost limitless…just be guided by good taste and don't follow King George and Bonnie Willie's example of Brigadoonery.


Image courtesy clipart.com




Sir William Curtis, Lord Mayor of London,
accompanied King George to Edinburgh.


The Lord Mayor of London, commonly called Bonnie Willie, was also blasted by the cartoonists of the day who had a great time showing the pomposity and ignorance of the two.
~~~~~~~
The ideas in the Bridal Gown pages will inspire you with styles, sources, and innovations to further personalize your Scottish wedding dreams…

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