Dating back to the 16th century, the longstanding tradition of the kilt means that its wear is surrounded with custom and expected behaviour. The modern kilt is roughly 100 years old, barely changing in style since that time. If you are new to this traditional Highland dress, we have highlighted the most important things to know before buying men’s kilts. After this, choosing a kilt should be simple. Here is our simple guide to buying men’s kilts.

What Are The Different Parts Of A Men’s Kilt?

  • Apron – This is the unpleated panel, at the front of the kilt, which overlaps
  • Pleat – Fabric which is stitched over itself in a fold. This makes up the back of most kilts
  • Small Kilt – Also known as a Philbeg or Walking kilt, this garment covers the lower half of the body, from waist to knees. This is the most well known men’s kilt
  • Great kilt – A full length men’s kilt, it can also be wrapped around the upper body
  • Kilt Straps – These buckle at the side of the kilt to fasten it
  • Kilt Pin – A decorative item worn on the front layer of the apron, but not holding the flap closed
  • Sporran – Traditionally a skin purse with the hair or fur left on worn at the front of men’s kilts. More modern leather purses are also available.

Which Tartan Should Your Men’s Kilt Be Made From?

The name for the specific tartan pattern used on a kilt is a sett. This relates to the weaving pattern, number of threads, weight and colours used. Though most setts are not trademarked, thus do not legally restrict who can wear them, most are registered to a clan, meaning that there are social conventions regarding who can wear them. If you do not have a known clan tartan, try tracing your roots back by using a search website such as House Of Tartan. Simply type in your surname and be told which clan you are, and thus which tartan sett you should wear on your men’s kilt. If you have no direct ties to any clans, there are a number of tartans which are universal, such as Black Watch, Caledonian, Hunting Stewart and Jacobite tartans, but search for your mother’s and grandmother’s maiden names to see if you have some connection.

Tailored Made Kilts For Men

A true men’s kilt is a bespoke affair, much like a good interview suit or black tie outfit. Cheap or off-the-rack kilts are unflattering and do not allow for correct sizing, which may lead to the kilt not hitting you at mid-knee, which is considered very inelegant. Many of our men’s kilts are handmade for to ensure the perfect fit. Obviously, your kilt will be worn more than once, at events and celebrations, and often in front of others who know their men’s kilts. A low quality kilt is sure to be spotted immediately, and met with disapproval. The places where you will need to know your measurements are your waist, hips and possibly also your rise, which is the distance from waist to groin. This will ensure that you wear your traditional, handmade men’s kilt with style and with respect to tradition.

What To Wear With Your Traditional Kilt

When dressing for a formal event, do not forget the correct accessories. Men’s kilts should be paired with a jacket, waistcoat, tie, shirt, and knee socks known as hose. To complete the look, you should also wear a sporran, kilt pin and Ghillie brogues, which are a specific type of shoe. For an authentic look, you could also add:

  • A sgian dubh - A small ceremonial knife worn partially concealed in the hose, with only the hilt visible.
  • Sock flashes - Small pieces of tartan attached to the hose, are also an option, and should be worn to match your kilt tartan.

All these are guidelines for formal kilt wear, whereas casual kilts, such as leather or utility men’s kilts can be worn with any normal day wear, as there are no rules or traditions surrounding those. Whatever you choose, make sure to browse our extensive range of men’s kilt, tartans, materials and cuts. If you have any other enquiries, please contact us on 0131 553 3472 or email for sales enquiries, or to find out about our range of kilts for hire.