--> History of Trews – Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers

History of Trews

Modern Trews

Modern Trews are made more like trousers, measured using the simple measuring tape, with the tartan or fabric cut on the straight grain. They are usually cut for high waist so can be worn with the shorter jacket as an alternative to the kilt.

Due to the Military use of trews in Lowland regiments in   Scotland, they are often seen as lowland dress, which has spilled over into civilian life, so that for many years they were viewed as part of lowland wear. However, Highland history and traditions have seen trews re enter Highland wear.

Tartan Trews offer a great alternative to the kilt.



 History of Trews

Truibhas Trius or Trews


Trews were breeches and stockings all in one piece and cut close to the figure.  They were cut on the bias, which allowed the fabric to stretch sufficiently to mould the body. 

There has been many references from travellers visiting Scotland during the 15th and 16th century.  One says they were worn by gentlemen whilst another says Highlanders would wear them in ‘the sharp winter weather’.

A 17th century reference to the trews by Martin Martin, a native from Skye published in 1703:

Many of the people wear trowis, some of them very fine woven, like stockings fo those made of cloath; some are coloured and others striped; the latter are as well shap’d as the former, lying close to the body from the middle downwards, and tied round with a belt above the haunches.  There is a square piece of cloth which hangs down before.  The measure for shaping the Trowis is a stick of wood, whose length is cubit, and that divided into the length of a finger, and half a finger, so that it requires more skill to make it, than the ordinary habit…..




Measuring Trews 

The word nail was used as a measure of length for cloth in the 15th century.  It represented the 16th part of a yard, or 2 ¼ “. It required great skill to cut a pair of trews to match the sett of the tartan.

Here is an old gaelic rhyme about the measuring and making of the trews: