Become an Expert on How to Wear a Kilt Like a True Scotsman

The kilt is an iconic symbol of Scottish culture. It is steeped in history, tradition, and is often the first thing that comes to mind when people think of Scotland. Whether you’re attending a formal event, a wedding, playing in a bagpipe band, or simply want to show off your Scottish pride, wearing a kilt can be a great option.

However, wearing a kilt is more than just tucking in a shirt and putting on a pair of shoes. In this article, we will take a look at everything you need to know about how to wear a kilt like a true Scotsman.

Choosing Your Kilt

The first step in wearing a kilt like a Scot is selecting the right one. Kilts come in a wide range of tartans, which are the traditional Scottish patterns. When choosing a tartan, it is essential to consider the occasion, your heritage, and personal preference.

Some tartans are clan-specific, while others are more general-purpose. Keep in mind that while some tartans are predominantly for formal occasions, others are more versatile.

How to Wear a Kilt Like a True Scotsman
How to Wear a Kilt Like a True Scotsman

Once you have chosen your tartan, you need to make sure that the kilt fits you properly. Kilts should be worn higher up the waist than trousers, usually around your navel. When measuring your waist, add about two inches for comfort, and ensure that the kilt is fitted correctly. It should sit snugly around your waist without digging in.

Getting Dressed

Before putting on your kilt, you need to put on your accessories. This includes a leather sporran, which is a pouch that hangs from the front of the kilt, and a kilt pin, which secures the front apron of the kilt.

The sporran should be placed about four inches below the waistband and centered over the front apron of the kilt. The kilt pin should be placed on the right-hand side and should only pierce the top layer of fabric, not the entire kilt.

When you’re ready to put on the kilt, start by laying the pleats flat on the ground in front of you. Begin by fastening the buckles on the left-hand side, making sure that the kilt fits comfortably but not too snugly. Depending on the kilt, you may need to pull the aprons together and overlap them, or you may be able to wear them wrapped around your waist.

Accessorizing your Kilt

Now that you have your kilt on, it’s time to accessorize. You can wear a jacket, waistcoat, or shirt with your kilt depending on the occasion and the weather.

If you’re attending a formal event, a Prince Charlie jacket is an excellent choice. Alternatively, you could wear a tweed jacket or a waistcoat.

When it comes to footwear, formal events usually require black dress shoes or brogues. For more casual occasions, you can wear Ghillie Brogues, which are laced up around the ankle. Complete your outfit with a tie or a bowtie, both of which can be matching or contrasting with your kilt.

Kilt Etiquette

Wearing a kilt comes with particular etiquette. One of the most important things to remember is to never wear anything under your kilt.

It is traditionally worn au naturel, which can be a shock to some, but it is a definite part of the tradition. It is also essential to wear the kilt with pride and confidence, as it is a significant part of Scottish history and culture.

Additionally, it is traditional to always show respect for others’ kilts. This means you should never touch or lift someone else’s kilt without permission. Also, you should never sit down on any surface before checking its cleanliness, as a dirty surface can soil your kilt.

Maintaining Your Kilt

Maintaining your kilt is an essential aspect of owning one. Before you wear your kilt, make sure it is clean and ironed.

While you wear it, be mindful of where you sit and avoid dragging it on the ground. After wearing it, hang your kilt up by the straps to allow it to air out. Always dry clean your kilt to avoid any damage.

How to Walk in a Kilt

Walking in a kilt may feel different than what you’re used to, but it’s important to maintain proper posture:

  • Stand up straight with your shoulders back.
  • Keep your weight on the balls of your feet.
  • Take slightly shorter strides than you would in pants.
  • Swing your arms naturally.
  • Avoid crossing your legs when sitting.

How to Care for Your Kilt

If you want to keep your kilt in excellent condition, follow these care tips:

  • Dry clean only: Do not machine wash or tumble dry your kilt, as it may shrink or lose its shape.
  • Hang dry: After wearing your kilt, hang it on a hanger to prevent wrinkles.
  • Press with care: If your kilt becomes wrinkled, iron it on a low setting and avoid pressing over the pleats.
  • Store properly: Store your kilt in a garment bag or hang it in a closet away from direct sunlight.

Additional Tips and Tricks

Here are a few extra tips to keep in mind when wearing a kilt:

Wear underwear: Yes, even though the traditional Scotsman doesn’t, it’s best to wear boxers or briefs to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions.

Be respectful: If you’re attending a Scottish event, make sure to be respectful of the traditions and customs that come along with wearing a kilt.

Practice beforehand: If you’re unsure about wearing a kilt, practice wearing it at home before the event.

Have fun: Wearing a kilt is a unique experience, so embrace it and have fun with it!


Wearing a kilt like a Scottish is not only an honourable tradition but a sign of respect for Scottish heritage. Fortunately, with the right tartan, the correct fitting, and the proper accessories, anyone can wear a kilt like a true Scotsman. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you’ll be able to wear your kilt with pride, show respect for other kilts, and maintain it in top condition for many years to come.

FAQs – Wear a Kilt like a True Scotsman

1. How do I properly wear a kilt like a true Scotsman?

Answer: To wear a kilt like a true Scotsman, ensure that it’s the right size and length. The kilt should be worn high on the waist, with the top edge sitting just below the navel. The pleats should be at the back, and the apron should fall to the middle of the knee. Traditional accessories such as a sporran, kilt hose, and ghillie brogues complete the look.

2. What is the traditional way to wear a sporran with a kilt?

Answer: The sporran, a pouch worn around the waist, is an essential accessory when wearing a kilt. It should be centered on the front of the kilt, hanging about 4-6 inches below the waistline. Attach the sporran to a chain or leather strap and fasten it around your waist, over the kilt.

3. How should I fold the pleats when wearing a kilt?

Answer: When wearing a kilt, the pleats should be pre-folded and sewn down, so you don’t need to fold them yourself. The pleats should be evenly spaced and run horizontally across the back of the kilt. They should be narrow and tightly pressed to create a neat, tailored appearance.

4. What are the appropriate shoes to wear with a kilt?

Answer: Ghillie brogues, a type of traditional Scottish shoe, are the most appropriate footwear to wear with a kilt. They have long laces that wrap around the ankle and tie above the calf, complementing the overall look. Alternatively, you can wear dress shoes or boots with a kilt for a less formal occasion.

5. Is it true that a Scotsman wears nothing under his kilt?

Answer: The decision to wear something or nothing under a kilt is a personal choice. While the tradition of “going commando” is often associated with true Scotsmen, many modern kilt-wearers choose to wear underwear for comfort and modesty. Ultimately, it’s up to the individual and the occasion.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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