Scottish Kilts: Principal Variants

Figure 1.--This Scottish boy wears an elaborate Highland kilt outfit taken in the backyard (back garden). The snapshot is undated, we would guess it was taken in the 1950s. We suspect that this might be a dancing costume. Elbirate Highland kilts like this were often worn for Hiughland dancing.

We notice variants of the Scottish kilt. The fashion popularized by Queen Victoria fostered two primary variants. The first was the proper Highland kilt, which was worn both formally and informally. The forml Highland kilt outfit involved elaborate regalia. The same kilt could be worn as a suit alternative with a tweed jacket or as a casual garment without a jacket. The second was a kilt-like skirted garment, the kilt suit which was especially popular in America. We see them in England and Scotland, but they were not nearly as common as in America. I'm unsure to what extent it was worn in Scotland. We also note skirt suits, but this seems to have been more of an American variant as actual kilt were not as available as in Britain. While the Highland kilt was not very common in America. The kilt abd skirted suits were emensely popular.

Proper Higland kilt

Proper Scottish kilts were a separate skirt-like garmet, usually in a tartan material. Boys and men might wear a full, formal Higland kilt outfit or they might wear a more informal outfit. A formal Highland kilt might consist of a Scotts' cap, prerably a Glengary, black jacket, ruffled jabot or Eton collar, kilt, trews, Argyle kneesocks, and broges or buckles shoes. There were many variations, such as an eagle feather or dirk. The kilt is today seen as primarily a dress-up garment. The Highland kilt is obviously a dressy outfit. And with a special tweed jacket, cut shorter than a regular suit jacket, can be worn as a suit alternative. It was sometimes worn with the school blazer, but this was not common. This tweed jacket and kikt outfit is worn for special occasions at many Scottish schools, especially private schools. It is not usually worn for regular school days. It is also worn to Church or for important family occassions such as weddings. Scottish boys before World war II might wear a kilt with a tweed jacket to school. Or for casual after school activities he might wear his kilt with a warm sweater or other casual clothes. Wenolonger see this, in part because the kilt is such an expensive garment. The kilt itself was the same as worn as part of an Highland outfit.

Kilt suits

The kilt fashion for boys spread to the United States where a new style, kilt suits were introduced. The kilt suit actually was a kilt in name only. It was a skirted garmet, but the skirt portion was on a bodice or a one piece garmet. The upper and lower portions were made of the same material, often not a plaid or a very muted plaid material. It was the perfect fashion for doting mothers dispairing of their sons growing up to fast and having to dress them in trousers. The kilt suit was a natural transition for boys who had grown to old for dresses. The style was not limited to Scoland and England. Affluent Americans generally looked to England as the arbiters of good taste and were soon also dressing their sons in kilts. Scottish ancestry had little to do with the choice of kilts, although families with actual Scottish ancestry might be particularly likely to follow the style.


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Created: 6:42 PM 2/2/2015
Last updated: 6:42 PM 2/2/2015