Parts of a Kilt

Written by alice morello
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Parts of a Kilt
Animal skin sporrans are part of the formal kilt dress. (Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Kilts are one of the national symbols of Scotland, but they are also present in other regions of the United Kingdom, such as Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and southern England. The main differences between the kilts in these regions consist of the varieties of garments that compose the outfit. The authentic Scottish kilt is typically made from twill woven worsted wool and its most distinctive feature is the tartan, often associated with clans. Besides the well-known "skirt," a traditional kilt outfit includes several accessories.

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Kilt

The principal part of any kilt outfit is obviously the "skirt," which people generally refer to as the actual kilt. Authentic kilts are completely handmade and they consist of a pleated wrapped skirt. The front half of a kilt consists of two overlapping panels, while the back one is pleated. Nowadays, ready-to-wear kilts are available in standard sizes, but one can also choose to tailor it according to his individual proportions. The length of a traditional kilt reaches halfway across the knee.

Jacket

A jacket for a kilt outfit should be chosen according to the occasion. The Prince Charlie Jacket, tailored to accentuate the kilt, is a frequent choice for formal wear, including weddings, while the casual Argyle jacket without a waistcoat is a suitable choice for day and semi-formal wear.

Headwear

It is possible to wear a kilt with or without headgear. Two of the most used headgear types for a Scottish kilt are the Glengarry and the Balmoral. The Glengarry is a wedge-shaped type of cap, longer than wider, featuring trailing ribbons and named after the Glengarry valley located in Inverness-shire. The Balmoral cap got its name from Balmoral Castle near Edinburgh and it is a round cap, also with trailing ribbons and with a toorie (ball) on a flat top. The most usual colour for kilt headgear is black, but both types come in various colours.

Sporran

Kilts do not have pockets, and thus sporrans replace their functions. Derived from the Gaelic term for purse, the word sporran suggests the function of the object. Sporrans are not only functional, but decorative as well and they come in different styles, suitable for day or formal wear. The day wear sporran is a black or brown leather purse without too much adornment, with Celtic knots and three leather tassels, being more functional than decorative. The dress versions are highly decorative, normally larger, made from animal skin, with silver cantles decorated with a variety of Celtic designs.

Belt

The function of a belt in a kilt outfit is not to hold up the kilt, as this is the function of the buckles and leather straps. Belts constitute additional decorations for a kilt. They are general approximately 3 inches wide, made from black leather and decorated in a variety of ways with Celtic tooling.

Footwear

There are different styles of shoes suitable for kilt outfits. The most common are the Gillie Brogues. Their design without a tongue makes them practical and permits them to dry out quickly. Gillie Brogues are suitable for formal wear, and many consider them an integral part of the kilt outfit.

Weapons

A ceremonial dirk (Scottish word for short dagger) suspended from the belt and a sgian-dubh (single-edged knife) tucked in a hose top are the traditional weapons worn with a kilt. They were part of the secondary armament of clansmen going to battle, but nowadays they are purely ornamental.

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