Tips on Wearing the Kilt

Written by jamie wilson
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Tips on Wearing the Kilt
A properly worn kilt, such as this Black Watch/Campbell tartan, should never cover the knee. (kilt image by lino beltrame from

Correct kilt-wearing is complex, involving precise pleating and folding followed by lying down on the prepared garment in order to fasten it around you. However, even a kilt worn right can cause problems, from severe chafing in sensitive areas to accidental exposure, front or back. A few simple tips can add comfort and convenience to the kilt-wearing experience.

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Choosing aTartan

Start by getting the right tartan. Use Web resources to research plaids that you are entitled to wear, and make sure you can support your right to wear it. Those who wear random plaids are often called "Clan Pizza Hut" by knowledgeable kilt wearers. If you don't have a tartan you feel entitled to, you still have several options. You may design your own tartan with the assistance of a professional tartan weaver; you also may wear a national design or you may seek out a tartan not associated with a blood line. For instance, the Black Watch/Campbell tartan is often worn by Marines and law-enforcement professionals because of its strong military history. You also can wear a solid-coloured kilt.

Putting on the Kilt

While you do need to fold your kilt right before wearing it, beginners may have trouble keeping the pleats right. Clip them down on the bottom with spring clothespins, then take the clothespins off when the kilt is on. If you still have trouble, deputise an assistant to help with the wrapping. If you still hate putting on your kilt, consider getting an easier pre-folded kilt that goes on with buckled straps instead of with a single belt.

The Sporran

Always wear a sporran, the purse-like accessory on the front of kilts. It is a handy pouch to take the place of pockets. More importantly, it weights down your kilt in a very strategic spot. Because of the way kilts are folded, not wearing a sporran leaves you in danger of an embarrassing exposure.

Comfort and Protection

Kilts are warm and look great, but they are made of wool, an inherently itchy and irritating fabric for most people. If you choose to go regimental, apply baby oil between your legs and on anything that may rub together to prevent chafing. You can also add some real comfort to a kilt by stitching a thick padded layer of softer material, like cotton, on the front underside where the wool rubs against tender areas. Use common sense and your own knowledge of your body to determine what will work best for you.

Added Convenience

Kilts come in two basic types: short kilts of about three yards and greatkilts that may measure five yards or more. Longer kilts are not necessarily for bigger men, but rather provide lengths you can wrap around your body for added warmth in cold weather. Alternately, that extra length can be used to create roomy pockets on your kilt.

Prepare a Retort

Every kilt wearer gets asked what he's wearing underneath. Prepare your answer in advance and be ready to give it. If you're wearing nothing, which is proper but not always followed, answer "Regimental." Any witty response is fine, so long as you have a response.

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