** Scottish kilts: usage -- social class

Scottish Kilts: Social Class

Figure 1.--This cabinet card has been printed without the photographer's information at the bottom. We see an unidentified boy wearing a Highland kilt sitting on a rocking horse. Notice how mother has spread out the kilt so it woukd show well in the portrait. It was not only taken outside, but against a background of an enormous parasol. This clearly indicated that the boy came from a wealthy family. Thatbis probably his home in the background. Taking the portrait outside probably means the family was wealthy enough for the photogeapher to come to the house. The rocking horse is of the 'safety stand' style design which was introduced in 1880 and took over from the bow rocker which was considered to be somewhat dangerous. He seems to be wearing knee pants sith the kilt along with long stockings and strap shoes. The portrait is undated. The dealer estimated the 1890s. Click on the image for a fuller discussion.

There has been an enormous change in the attitudes and usage among social classes concerning the kilt. Our information is very sketchy. We believe kilts were primarily worn by the Clans in the Higlands during the early 18th century. This means essentially that it was the poorer Scotts who wre the ones who wore kilts. And kilts at the time were a cheaper garmnt than trousers. We believe that English styles were more common in the Lowlands, but this needs to be confirmed. The Enlish after defeating Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Clans at Culloden (1746), outlawed both the bagpipes and the kilt. Only slowly did the the kilt reappear in Scotland. Thasnks to the exploits of Scottish regiments, this time fighting for the British Empire, and marvelous Scottish poets and authors, English attitudes toward Scotland began to change. The Cult of the Highland began to build. A young British was one of many enchanted by Scotland. We are not entirely sure just who was wearing kilts in the early-19th century. We believe kilts were more common in the Highlands and in the islands. We are less sure about social class trends. The trends by the late-19th century is more clear, in part because there is a more extensive photographic record. It is the affluent class in Scotland that is wearing kilts and this includes the major Low Land cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, at least in the private schools. We believe that kilt usage in the Highlands was not as addected by social class, but here our information is still limited.


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Created: 8:58 AM 3/14/2010
Last updated: 8:58 AM 3/14/2010