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Men wearing skirts?

Updated: Sep 30, 2022

Ok, let's address the elephant in the room, we wear what looks like skirts, but they are definitely not skirts. They are Kilts!

Perth bagpiper

There is no other national dress that entirely defines a nation as much as the kilt - a tartan knee-length (traditionally) men's dress skirt with pleats at the back, but which came first, the tartan or the kilt?

The origin of tartan itself (coloured weaved fabric) is disputed. Still, the name tartan or 'tiretaine' is supposed to be of French origin, and the weaving method is said to have come from France or Flanders (Trevor-Roper, 2008). In the book, The Invention of Scotland, Trevor-Roper goes on to mention that the first reports were Scotland in the 1530s and of the kilt - 'The essential fact is that, as yet, there was no mention of the kilt, as we know it today. At the end of the seventeenth century, as far as the written evidence goes - and we have some explicit accounts' - the alternative was simple. 'A Highlander wore either the plaid [cloak over the shoulder] and the trews [a combination of breeches and stockings], or the belted plaid ending, below the belt, in a skirt. The former was the dress of an officer or a gentleman; the latter of a common soldier or peasant.' (Trevor-Roper, 2008. pg 196).

The purpose of these kilts was probably more about function rather than aesthetics with their protection from the weather, freedom, and ability to be used for overnight warmth. Find out some more from kilt-makers in Scotland:

The kilt has now evolved into the Scottish national dress and is very commonly worn at weddings, especially by pipers. There are thousands of tartans that can signify the military or clan you belong to (identified by you or your ancestor's surname).

The kilt is accompanied by many other Scottish garments worn by the wedding piper, such as your brogues, hose, flashes, Sgian-Dubh (small knife worn in the sock), sporran (pouch at the front), dress shirt, argyle jacket and waistcoat and the Glengarry or balmoral (hats).

Check out the different kilts and outfits we have here:


Trevor-Roper, H. (2008). The Invention of Scotland. Yale University Press.


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