Traditional Scottish Fashions for Men

Written by kate irwin
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Traditional Scottish Fashions for Men
This man wears traditional Scottish fashions. (Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

Scotland has some of the most distinctive traditional men's clothing in the world, called Highland Dress. Most people think of a kilt as traditional Scottish clothing, but Scottish men's wear includes far more than the kilt. Highland Dress means wearing an entire outfit in the traditional Scottish style. The fabrics and methods of production have changed over the years, but Highland Dress today bears many similarities to that of the past.

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Lower Body Clothing

Scotsmen traditionally wear a kilt or trews on the bottom half of the body. Kilts look like skirts made in a tartan pattern. When worn properly, the hem of the kilt falls above the knee. Kilts come in three main types: authentic Scottish (six to eight yards of wool), formal (more than eight yards of finer wool) and lightweight (three to four yards of lighter wool). Scotsmen wear trews, or high-waisted trousers, in colder weather.

Upper Body Clothing

Scotsmen traditionally wear a simple white shirt with a collar and sleeves with a black bow tie. Jackets go over the shirt. The most popular, a short jacket called a Coatee, is worn unbuttoned over a waistcoat. Scotsmen wear plaids over the jacket. In traditional Scottish dress, plaids refers to fabric itself worn over the shoulder, not a pattern on the fabric. Plaids come in two styles: long (three and a half yards, worn around the body and over the shoulder) and small (about a meter square, worn pinned onto the shoulder).

Feet and Legs

Traditional Scotsmen wear hose above the calf but not covering the knee when wearing a kilt. Acceptable hose come in a tartan pattern, cream or matching any colour in the kilt. Scotsmen traditionally wear the top of the hose folded over and a Sgian Dubhs, or small knife, tucked into the hose on their right leg. For everyday footwear Scotsmen may wear loafers, tennis shoes, or whatever shoe is most appropriate for the activity. Traditional evening shoes include brogues or gillies, a type of shoe without a tongue that laces around the ankles.

Personal Items

Sporran means purse in Gaelic. Traditionally worn with kilts, sporrans provide a practical place to put personal items, as kilts have no pockets. Traditionally people wear a sporran on the front side of the kilt, hung on a waistband. A sporran should hang two to three inches below the belt buckle. Sporrans come in workaday (no ornamentation), semi-dress (some metal details), and formal (elaborately decorated) styles. Traditionally made of seal skin, sporrans can also be made of cowhide, deerskin and other more exotic animal skins.

Traditional Scottish Fashions for Men
A Sporran, worn on the waist, stores personal items. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

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