Before I start this review and in the interest of full disclosure; I paid for this book with my own funds, the opinion you're about to read is my own. This review has not been paid for, nor has anyone from the publisher reviewed or approved what you're read.


I have just received my re-print copy of The Gentleman's Guide to Correct Highland Dress, written by Ian MacKay Scobie. This was created by compiling the series of articles written by Ian MacKay Scobie in 1909 for The Celtic Monthly, and is printed by Scotpress. Scotpress may be known by many X-Marks-ers as the publishing house who re-printed the 1901 The Kilt, and How to Wear it by the Hon. Stuart Ruadri Erskine, with annotations and commentary by Bob Martin.

The book itself is spiral bound, with the covers being made of the same heavy weight paper stock as the interior pages themselves. There is no table of contents, and as this was compiled from a series of articles, it reads very organically, and a lack of being able to skip chapters, does help in ensuring the reader is fully immersed in the whole of the book. At 61 pages, it is truly a great small and quick read.

There are illustrations and photos throughout the book to complement the text. These were advertised as having been taken from contemporary sales catalogues of Highland Dress suppliers. I was looking forward to these, as pictures from this time-period can be a great resource in and of themselves. I however was disappointed. The photos are clearly low resolution internet grabs. They are from the period of the original articles, and in some ways do get across a point to someone new to Highland Dress. But for the person acquainted to Highland Dress, these will be a disappointment.

The content however will be of use to both the tyro and the veteran. As you would expect in a book on Highland Dress, all facets are covered. From the bonnet on the top of the head to the shoes on your feet, and all places in-between; this book will have you well dressed for the New Years celebration in 1910.

Like many before him, and like all after him; Ian MacKay Scobie has his own opinions on Highland Dress, and is unabashed in presenting what he feels is correct, wrong and acceptable... but don't expect him to like it. Much of what is presented is not much different than what you would see in a modern book on Highland Dress.

Now for some of the takeaways for myself. He has a preference for diced hose for full formal (white tie) wear, and argyle (tartan) hose for semi-formal (black tie), where I find the current trend or attitude would be the opposite. The other is that goat-hair sporrans are still in vogue at this time, to the point that tassel number equates level of dress. He also feels that non-pouch hair sporrans are turning the "... national garb (which is practical, if nothing else) into a harlequin fancy dress,... ", to which he implores the reader to counter.

I recommend this book, as it is a great read and will be a fine addition to the library of anyone interested Highland Dress.

You can find this book at the Scotpress ebay store. They do list that that shipping is unavailable to Canada (outside the USA, other international destinations? Unknown), but arrangements can be made by email.

Frank