Men's Kilts

Full men's dress kilt outfit.

A man’s traditional kilt, made from an approximate 8-yard running length of fabric, is deeply pleated in the back.  The flat, unpleated front aprons overlap from hip to hip. The outside front edge is fringed.  The kilt closes on the right with a buckle on each side of the waist below the narrow waistband.  Often a second hip buckle is added.

Each kilt is supported with a layer of sturdy hair canvas across the waist and hip area and lined with a smooth cotton lining.  Belt loops can be added.

Making a kilt is a highly skilled process, which takes many hours.  Each kilt is tailored to the individual measurement of the wearer.

Accurately planned and measurer pleats are essential in a quality kilt.  There are two methods of pleating a kilt – pleating to the ‘sett’ (or pattern) and pleating to the stripe.

When pleating to the sett the fabric is folded in such a way that the pattern of the sett is repeated all around the kilt. This is done usually by taking up one full sett in each pleat.  This makes a kilt which looks much the same from the front as from the back.

Kilt worn with casual accessories.

When pleating to the stripe, a strong narrow vertical stripe is selected and the fabric is folded so that this stripe runs down the centre of each pleat.  A kilt pleated to the stripe will result in the pattern looking different at the front than at the back.  It is sometimes called ‘military pleating’ because this is the style of pleating used by most military regiments.  Bagpipe bands may also use this style.

All ‘Kilts by Helen’ kilts have pleat depths that are a hand deep (3-4”).

The kilt is made with 5 holes in the straps, and measurements are taken to fit at the middle hole unless specified otherwise.  This allows for weight loss or gain.  If necessary, the buckles can also be moved.

The man’s kilt is traditionally made without a hem, using the selvedge of the cloth.  The exception is a kilt made for a young person.

What to Wear with the Kilt

The proper top, shoes and accessories to wear with the kilt are determined by the time of day and the occasion.  It is acceptable to wear something as casual as a plain button-front shirt or a sweater with the kilt, although a shirt and tie worn with a tweed vest and tweed kilt jacket would be very smart.

The kilt jacket is nearly identical to a sport coat except that it is cut shorter.  The bottom of any jacket worn with a kilt should not fall below the point where the pleats are released.

Ancient Henderson in progress

Evening Wear
There are many options for evening wear with a kilt.  For an informal evening, a dark kilt jacket and plain tie are appropriate.  For black or white tie affairs, one may choose a modified tail coat with silver buttons and decorative military-style cuffs called a Prince Charlie jacket.

One would wear the same accessories that are worn with a tail suit: a formal shirt with a tie and cummerbund (or a black formal belt) or with a waistcoat (vest).  The most formal jacket is a high-necked or open doublet made of a dark coloured fabric to match the tartan.  This jacket looks best with a white jabot and lace cuffs.  They may be also worn with the Prince Charlie Jacket.

Two styles of hat are traditional with a kilt.  A Balmoral bonnet is similar to a beret with a ribbon band around the bottom edge.  A Glengarry bonnet is a military-style cap that is worn tilted to the right over the forehead. Either of these bonnets may be decorated with a pin in the shape of a clan badge or a Scottish club or society’s symbol.

Kilts are worn with kilt stockings or hose: plain colour or natural wool knee socks for daytime, socks of matching tartan or coordinating checks for formal wear.  Tabs or ‘garter flashes’ in suitable solid colours or made of the kilt tartan fabric should be worn hanging from the turned down tops of the hose.  Traditional Scottish shoes worn with a kilt are called ghillies or ghillie brogues. They have no tongue and lace up over the instep and around the ankles. 

The sporran is a bag that hangs from the waist - a necessity since kilts have no pockets.  The sporran should hang in the centre of the body, no more than a hand’s width below the navel.  There are several styles of sporran: plain leather for day and silver-mounted fur pieces for evening.  An animal mask sporran is appropriate at any time.
A dirk is a decorative knife intended for evening wear.  It is often mounted in silver with a jeweled hilt and rests in a black sheath.  A skene dhu is a utility knife that is worn tucked into the top of the stockings.