Modern Highland Dress
Highland dress is one of the most distinctive and attractive
national costumes in the world and has survived the passing of
centuries with consummate ease. The basic elements of Highland
dress - the kilt and the sporran - have changed very little in 300
plus years and are just as likely to be seen today on New York's
Fifth Avenue as they are in Jakarta's Jalana Jaksa or Edinburgh's
Princess Street. They're also just as likely to be worn by a
Scottish regiment, a Russian Pipe Band, Scotland's ubiquitous
Tartan Army or millions of those around the globe who bask in the
warmth of genes from that cold and often misty little country stuck
out in the North Sea.
They are the billboard that quietly but loudly and proudly
exclaims - I'm a Scot . . . . or perhaps . . . my great-great-great
granny was a Scot! And there is more than a little romance and
frisson of danger around a man that wears a kilt. Memories of
Highland derring-do brought to life by Bonnie Prince Charlie, Sir
Walter Scott and even Mel Gibson; Scottish regiments showered with
blood and glory at major battles on far off shores and closer to
hand, going over the top of World War I trenches.
Highland dress encapsulates and transfers to its wearer many of
those actual and subliminal images and then of course . . . .
there's the little matter of what's under that kilt . . . . a
puzzle that has occupied the minds and eyes of many a lady (can
they really be 'ladies'?) who from the earliest of European
cartoons, have been recorded as being agog with curiosity. So
. . . you'll see by now that Highland dress is cool . . .
worn by crusty old colonels of the regiment, strutted on the
catwalks of modern fashion icons, turned into mega-entertainment in
America's annual 'Dressed to Kilt' show and found in the wardrobes
of rich and poor, young and old, slim and fat.
If you've a mind to join those privileged ranks of 'men in
skirts' then this section will start you off by explaining the
basics. Do remember that whilst Highland dress is not a uniform or
fancy dress, there are certain standards that you should follow.
There's plenty room for individual expression but don't drag what
is a proud national costume down to the level of burlesque which is
met with sniggers from some and resentment from others.
For the ladies . . . we have to apologise that this is all very
gender-biased but unfortunately Highland dress is essentially
male-oriented so you'll just have to grin and bear it - or click
over to the ladies' section and see what the fashion conscious
brides and mothers-of-brides are wearing these days.
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We are indebted to Houston Kilts of Paisley for many of
the illustrations in this section.