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  1. #1
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    1 Kilt 10 Looks : A Visual Guide to Formality in Highland Attire

    1 Kilt 10 Looks : A Visual Guide to Formality in Highland Attire

    Not too long ago a new member to X Marks the Scot.com posted a question about the levels of formality in highland attire. The two of us each thought that the best way to illustrate this was to dig up various previously posted photos and offer them as guide to these various stages or levels of formality as we saw them.

    We got to thinking about how often this question comes up, especially for the North Americans on our forum. The world we live in is far more casual than the one of our grandparents' day and children are not generally taught about, or familiar with, expected levels of dress as they grow up.

    We thought it would be a useful project for each of us to take a single tartan kilt and come up with ten different outfits that ranged from the utmost casual to white tie formal. This would also be a chance to show how truly versatile the kilt is. To make this as helpful as possible, to the most people, Glen choose the red-based Royal Stewart tartan and Jamie chose the green-based Black Watch tartan for their kilts. These are universal tartans that many own and most are familiar with. Both kilts are traditionally made and of traditional wool tartan cloth.

    Using what we have learned on XMTS over the last couple of years and combining it with our own personal sense of style we present this visual guide to help others better understand how to dress up or dress down a kilted outfit.

    You will see that between the two of us there are some differences in our approach to fashion and formality. This is very much intentional, but both of us take inspiration from classic highland attire even if sometimes we deviate from its conventions.

    Between us we hope to show a range on the fashion scale of highland attire to inspire others instead of a single point to simply emulate.

    Best Regards

    Jamie and Glen
    Last edited by Panache; 20th March 09 at 06:53 PM. Reason: grammar
    -See it there, a white plume
    Over the battle - A diamond in the ash
    Of the ultimate combustion-My panache

    Edmond Rostand

  2. #2
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    Jamie's Version

    #1 Very Casual



    Notes: Here I am wearing the kilt as the equivalent to a pair of jeans. This is my hiking outfit. The rolled down hose can be pulled up in the cool of the morning or to protect the legs when going through a patch of prickly undergrowth. My sporran is a simple one that doesn't look out of place when worn with hiking boots. My head gear is chosen for its practicality above all else. My favorite variant of this sort outfit is to wear a REI or other good quality long sleeved hiking shirt with a fleece zip up vest. This gives you the most options for keeping warm or cool as the day progresses. A nice rugby shirt goes very well with this look and for hot weather so would a t-shirt.


    #2 Casual / Festival wear



    Notes: For the moment ignore the pith helmet and fly whisk in my hand and imagine this outfit is worn with a khaki tam or balmoral bonnet (which is what I wear with it most of the time). This outfit takes inspiration from the uniform of the 1930s-1940s Black Watch regiment. It isn't an exact replica costume and I don't want it be. As a casual day outfit it uses simple brown leather belts, shoes, and sporran. A safari shirt (either long or short sleeved) is a great nice looking casual shirt that works well with kilts because it echoes the look of the Scottish highland regimental uniform. The red flashes, even though there is no red in the rest of the outfit, work for the same reason (ditto for the sporran). It is military fashion that was adopted into civilian attire. A set of red flashes works well with a variety of tartans for this reason.

    Now as for the pith helmet and fly whisk, there are some who do not want to see the kilt ever worn as a costume (think for a moment of the gross stereotypes perpetuated by the typical cheap "Scotsman" costume one can buy for Halloween). Likewise they dislike the psuedo "Jacobite" look sported by many at highland games. Now I think that the "Jacobite" look is fun (even if it has much more to do with with Hollywood and Romance novel covers than actual history) but I as I attend Highland games in Summer in California I wanted an outfit that would be cool and offer me some protection from the sun. So my standard attire at these events is to wear this outfit that tips its hat (or helmet) to the Highland regiments stationed in tropical climes. I fully admit to the pith hemet being a bit whimsical or theatrical, but then again so I am. Now I have even worn this very outfit as a Halloween Costume. Trading in the fly whisk for a butterfly net and with my wife dressed as a butterfly we made a splash at our Scottish Country Dance Halloween party. I feel that I was successful integrating my kilt into a Halloween costume while still being respectful to the kilt. I think that our sense of heritage can and should include a little bit of fun.

    As for the fly whisk? Well I do have small children to keep in line...


    #3 Sporty



    Notes: Here I am wearing the kilt as the equivalent to a pair of Docker style pants for an afternoon BBQ or out to the pub with friends. Polo shirts look very smart with kilts. Generally one wears brown leather accessories for day wear. However some late afternoon or evening events require a smart but casual look, also some tartans don't work very well with brown leather accessories. I am wearing black shoes and belts, but I make sure to use a simple black sporran. Likewise even though I am wearing a belt with a waist plate (which really is a more formal look) using a green enamelled one instead of a bright chrome or silver piece makes it less formal (a dull pewter or brass waist plate would have a similar effect). This particular type of outfit has great versatility as I can wear my tweed crail jacket with it to dress things up, my short waisted "motorcycle style" leather jacket to dress things down, or a "wooly pully" commando style sweater that would fall somewhere in between.


    #4 Day wear



    Notes: This is the sort of outfit I would enjoy wearing for a a long stroll in the park or out shopping. Turtlenecks and kilts go together like bread and butter. The wonderful thing about a turtleneck is that it can elevate a less formal look and also makes a more formal look less so. My sporran, sporran belt, and shoes are a mix of brown and black leather, which isn't traditional but makes for a fun and casual look. The use of a brown jacket, turtleneck, and pocket square carry the day wear colors theme. I am wearing oatmeal hose which are a great compliment to most tartans especially for day wear.


    #5 Smart Day wear



    Notes: I am again using brown leather accessories, but I am wearing a fancier fur sporran. The waist coat and tie make the outfit look very nice, but the tan/oatmeal shirt, hose, and jacket gives a casualness to the ensemble. The dark brown waist coat makes for a bit of contrast to all the tan hues. The deer stalker hat is quite authentic for highland attire, comfortable, and one of the few Scottish hats that offer any sort of sun protection for one's face and neck. This is the sort of outfit I would wear to a morning wedding, party, or church service.


    #6 Dressy



    Notes: In my opinion the most useful jacket one can own for kilted attire is a simple tweed Argyll or crail. Much as tweed blazer works equally well with jeans or dress slacks, the tweed kilt jacket serves one well in a great number of situations. This outfit is one I would wear for a late afternoon or early evening event, such as an afternoon wedding. I use black leather accessories and versatile mink fur sporran (this type of fur sporran with a leather cantle actually would work for almost every one of the outfits I am showing that use black leather accessories). My shirt is a businesslike light blue with a dressier white collar. The red tie, pocket square, and flashes "pop" from the dark blue of the waistcoat and hose. A more elaborate watch chain with fob is adds a touch of class. Now this is just my opinion, but I have always found the glengarry bonnet to be much more formal looking than the balmoral. So I use mine for that finishing touch when I am trying to look really sharp.


    #7 Semi Formal (suit equivalent)



    Notes: My black Argyll/Braemar jacket and a white shirt make this outfit more formal than the previous one. Instead of a waist coat, I chose a belt and waist plate (but not a bright metal one as those I reserve for more formal attire). Also I have traded the red accents for more muted green, blue, and black giving things a more subdued modern look. I have switched my shoes for more formal leather soled ones. This is what I might wear out to dinner or an evening wedding or party.


    #8 Semi Formal (Tuxedo equivalent)

    ]

    Notes: Some evening events are "formal optional" which can be a bit awkward to figure out how to dress for. There will be people in dark suits, others in sport coats, and a few in tuxedos (but not tail coats). One doesn't want to show up one's boss who is wearing a tuxedo by wearing a Prince Charlie, but at the same time one wants to dress up and make a statement. This can easily be managed by wearing a black argyll jacket, with a dress (tux) shirt, bow tie, and either a three button waistcoat (like as worn with a Prince Charlie coatee) or a belt with fancy waist plate which is akin to wearing a cummerbund. In this outfit I have traded my all black mink sporran for a fancier metal cantled calf skin sporran with a matching waist plate. Beyond these and the dress (tux) pleated shirt, and black satin bow tie this outfit is the same as the previous one.


    #9 Formal (Black Tie)



    I am wearing my PC style coatee in the modern fashion with white hose and fly plaid. Traditional diced/argyll hose (or even just solid color hose) would also look very smart. I have traded my formal dress shoes for ghillie brogues. Personally I only wear a fly plaid for special occasions. Some people wear a belt/waist plate as well as their waist coat, but I'm not fond of the look. Whether worn in classic or modern style a PC always looks sharp.


    #10 Formal (White tie)



    Notes: When only lace at the cuffs and throat will do... While the hose I am wearing are perfectly acceptable, diced or argyll hose would be the perfect finishing touch with my sheriffmuir doublet. I also think that a formal doublet is the one the type of highland attire where buckle brogues would be the very best choice for footwear, though ghillie brogues are certainly acceptable.
    Last edited by Steve Ashton; 18th May 18 at 12:07 PM. Reason: New photo links
    -See it there, a white plume
    Over the battle - A diamond in the ash
    Of the ultimate combustion-My panache

    Edmond Rostand

  3. #3
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    Glen's Version

    #1 Very Casual



    Notes: Here would be a typical hiking outfit for me in spring or fall, the hose can be rolled down and if it gets too hot I'm wearing a shirt under the sweater. I could just as easily wear a Rugby shirt or a T-Shirt with this outfit depending on the weather. I tend to forgo head wear unless necessary. Even though it is a simple hiking outfit, there is no reason to be sloppy, so I have ensured that the hose and sweater match, thus if I feel like going out after the hike to the local pub to watch a game I'll fit in as well as kilted guy ever does in a Canadian pub. For the most part recently with our climate I've been wearing an outfit much like this one, so much so that my twin brother who is very much used to seeing me in a kilt is now threatening to call me sweater guy. I am wearing a Freelander Sporran that seems to work well with the Hiking Boots, notice no flashes are really needed for hiking.

    #2 Sporty


    Notes: I wore an outfit almost exactly like this to a Toronto FC game last year, I've also worn it out to the pub and would wear it shopping or just to do errands, a look like this with a rugby shirt works wonderfully for a myriad of events, a casual look like this simply works. I am wearing a Canadian Rugby Shirt, again with the Freelander Sporran the belt is one I made myself, I generally leave the Dress Belt for dressier outfits though many do wear the waist plate style belt and buckle combination with this type of outfit. I would say if a jacket is to be worn a denim, leather, or other casual style jacket would work very well. Again flashes are an option I tend to forgo for this type of outfit.



    #3 Casual Highland Games Wear



    Notes: I would wear this outfit at a Highland Games as I'm wearing a golf shirt with the Stewart buckler, I would also wear it to a pub or for an afternoon get together with friends, the difference from this outfit and the last are the hose and shirt, again a very classic look that really looks like an outfit anyone else might wear, save the kilt of course. An outfit like this I think shows that the kilt is not a costume but a normal clothing option, I wear this outfit or something similar for quite a bit of the summer months up here. With this outfit flashes could be worn if you wanted to, to me it really just depends on my mood for the day.

    #4 Dressy Highland Games Wear



    Notes: I have worn an outfit like this to the Highland Games I find an outfit like this is perfect for the March of the Clans, or if you just want to elevate your outfit a wee bit. I was wearing an outfit almost exactly like this at last years Fergus games a couple of Japanese tourist said I was the most Scottish looking person there. I am wearing a Braemar Jacket in the Burns Check, with a green tie as there is green as a secondary colour in the tartan, I am also wearing Hawick hose green with Argyll tops. I am wearing my Balmoral which has been shaped to my head by soaking it and letting it sit all night, it has also been kicked down the street a bit helping to work it in a we bit, one thing I've learned over my time on X-Marks the older the Balmoral the better. I am wearing Brown leathers with this outfit and again I made the belt. I am wearing a shirt with French cuffs the cufflinks I chose were my late Uncle's pair that are decorated with a thistle. The sporran is one of my Ferguson Britt sporrans this one in brown elk hide and muskrat fur.



    #5 Day Wear



    Notes: I have worn this outfit to work, I would equate it to a sport coat and jeans. I have also worn something similar to the Highland Games when it's not too hot. I would not hesitate to wear something like this to a day time wedding as a guest. I've found that many people look upon an outfit such as this as being proper. I know some kilt wearers really like the Crail style cuffs, I have however become accustomed to having the Argyll style cuffs, this jacket is in Harris Tweed and I found it at a local Tartan shop for sale on consignment. I really like the look to me it hearkens back to an earlier time, not to say I am wearing this as a costume because I am not, it is simply that I am comfortable with this style of jacket. Notice that I have matched the colour of my tie with my hose, Green is also a secondary colour in the tartan, thus bringing it all together.

    #6 Smart Day Wear



    Notes: This look or close to it is about the most versatile, to my mind. I have worn something close to this for weddings, funerals and everything in between. This outfit can go from day to night so long as the night event is not formal. It would be easy to dress this up a bit with another dressier sporran, or perhaps diced hose depending on the venue. However the jacket and waistcoat are very appropriate for any number of functions.

    #7 Dressy



    Notes: To make sure it is a seamless transition notice the sporran, I chose to wear one that is appropriate from day wear to evening wear. Again this is a Ferguson Britt sporran, this one is a skunk sporran. I am also wearing a dress sgain dubh instead of a day wear all of this elevates the outfit, and make it versatile enough for both day wear and evening. I am also wearing Ghillie Brogues and traditional garter ties, these could be either flashes or ties but I prefer garter ties.


    #8 Semi Formal (suit equivalent)



    Notes: Here I've changed the tie to red also notice I am wearing Charcoal hose to match with the jacket and waistcoat. This outfit would work most anywhere, unless it was a black or white tie event. I often wear something like this to the office, except for this outfit I'm wearing my Sealskin sporran, to me that brings this outfit up a notch, though it may not be strictly proper to wear it during the day, it to my mind depends on the occasion. Anytime I have worn this outfit, I've had nothing but compliments on it. I've decided to bring this outfit together with the colour red, notice how the red tie and flashes all go together with the Royal Stewart tartan. Again I'm wearing Ghillie Brogues and a Dress Sgain Dubh.

    #9 Black Tie



    Notes: Here I am in my Prince Charlie jacket, I would say I am wearing it more traditionally than Jamie does, though I do not see that much to quibble about our differences, I would much rather celebrate our similarities than argue our differences. I am wearing my Sealskin sporran I am also wearing a dress sgian dubh and diced hose, as well as this I am still wearing the ghillie brogues and a self tie bow tie. I would wear this to a Scottish Country Dance ball, Burns Supper or any other Black Tie event I may be attending. The wonderful thing about owning a P.C. is that you never feel out of place at a black tie event. I'd also like to note that I can and have worn my buckle brogues with the prince Charlie outfit, I chose not too for the purpose of this thread.


    #10 White Tie



    Notes: Here I've gone up from Black Tie to White Tie Highland attire, I am wearing my Montrose Doublet with jabot and cuffs. I am also still wearing my diced hose and Dress Sgian Dubh with it, however I've changed the ghillie brogues to buckle brogues, with my dress belt. I would feel perfectly fine wearing this to a Burns Supper or a Ball, anytime I'm attending a White tie event. In fact I prefer this level of formality to the Black tie and thus I end up wearing it for either.
    Last edited by McMurdo; 11th July 17 at 05:36 AM. Reason: Fixing photo links

  4. #4
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    Very nice, both of you.
    [I][B]Nearly all men can stand adversity. If you really want to test a manís character,
    Give him power.[/B][/I] - [I]Abraham Lincoln[/I]

  5. #5
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    As if you two were not already the envy of most of the posters here, you go and step it up even more. what more can be said but bravo!

    Rob

  6. #6
    bricelythgoe is offline Membership Revoked for repeated rule violations.
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    Very interesting... I can't say I agree with everything (especially what you consider day wear), but it is a good frame of reference. Thanks for taking the time to put that together.

    Brice
    Last edited by bricelythgoe; 20th March 09 at 09:13 PM. Reason: spelling

  7. #7
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    Jamie and Glen, Thank you for taking the time and showing us that you can have 10 looks for one kilt. It will help in the future when we all say " What should I wear today?"
    His Noble Excellency Ryan the Innocent of Waldenshire under Throcket
    Free Your Legs!

  8. #8
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    Awesome! Great collaboration - what a fun project. Nice job.

    Have you thought about making these into public service posters to sell to the kilt shops?

    Regards,
    Rex.
    At any moment you must be prepared to give up who you are today for who you could become tomorrow.

  9. #9
    Phil is offline Membership Revoked for repeated rule violations.
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    Very smart gents. That should be very useful to anyone unsure of how they should dress (pith helmet excepted of course) for any eventuality.

  10. #10
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    What a clever idea and shows just how versatile one kilt can be with all the different outfits!
    [B][COLOR="Red"][SIZE="1"]Reverend Earl Trefor the Sublunary of Kesslington under Ox, Venerable Lord Trefor the Unhyphenated of Much Bottom, Sir Trefor the Corpulent of Leighton in the Bucket, Viscount Mcclef the Portable of Kirkby Overblow.

    Cymru, Yr Alban, Iwerddon, Cernyw, Ynys Manau a Lydaw am byth! Yng Nghiltiau Ynghyd!
    (Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall, Isle of Man and Brittany forever - united in the Kilts!)[/SIZE][/COLOR][/B]

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