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Tartan Ferret

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.

Two boys in kilts Two men talking

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.

Casual Highland dress

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.


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