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How to Wear Highlandwear

Highlandwear is steeped in traditonal and full of little details.
We know it can be tricky to get right and keep right even when you're dancing all night long!

This guide is designed to first of all, highlight some of the common mistakes that occur when putting on the kilt and then the rest of your highland ensemble.
We also have a useful order of dress guide to help you get ready and a detailed look at how to tie ghillie brogues.

We want you to look your absolute best and feel your very best too!


How To Put On Highlandwear

Getting dressed may seem like a pretty obvious thing we do...we do it every day after all.
But the details in highlandwear can make it a wee bit trickier than, let's say, a suit.

This guide aims to give you an order of dress which will allow you to get dressed neatly and comfortably, resulting in a smart and beautifully worn highlandwear look.

1) Start with your shirt and tie (and your pants...but we hope that goes without saying)

2) Next, put on your kilt socks, flashes and brogues (further down this page there is a "how to tie your ghillie brogues" video)
Pull your sock all the way on then strap the garters of the flashes underneath the bottom of your knees. The flashes sit on the outsides of the calves. You can then pull the top of the socks back down over the garters of the flashes, covering them and leaving just a few inches of the flashes hanging out. Short gent's may need to double up the fold over of the socks

3) Time for your kilt - make sure the waistband is sitting snuggly around your natural waist (around about where your belly button is) - you will need to pull the straps as tight as you can to ensure the kilt remains in the correct position

4) The waistcoat goes on next - if you are wearing a tweed jacket, the bottom button will remain undone

5) It's now time for the sporran - use the opening waistcoat as a guide to help you, using your hand to measure one handspan down from the waistband of the kilt/the bottom button of the waistcoat to the top of the sporran (you may need a pal to help you fasten the sporran at the back and pull the chain through the large sporran loops at the back of the kilt)

6) Now you can put on your jacket, remembering that if you are fastening it only to fasten the top button

7) You can now complete your look with your sgian dubh! This sits inside the socks of your writing hand down the outside of the leg. Only about an inch of the top of the sgian dubh is left visible above the top of the sock.


How Not To Wear A Kilt

A kilt worn well is one of the most beautiful garments around...
Okay, THE most beautiful garment around.

But the same common mistakes are often made, let's take a closer look at these and how to sort them...

- Wearing the kilt too low: the kilt should sit around the natural waist (around about where your belly button is). If you wear your kilt around your hips like trousers it will a) become too long and b) the pleats will hang incorrectly losing the swing that makes the kilt so unique.
The shirt will also appear over the top of the kilt as you will create a gap between the waistcoat and the top of the kilt - not a great look. When the kilt is in the right place the waistcoat will meet the kilt - perfect.
The ideal gap between the bottom of the kilt (which hits your mid-knee when worn correctly) and the top of the socks is around 2 inches.

- Wearing the kilt too high: again, the kilt should sit around the natural waist (around about where your belly button is). If you wear your kilt too high it will then become to short - never a good look.
The ideal gap between the bottom of the kilt (which hits your mid-knee when worn correctly) and the top of the socks is around 2 inches.

- Wearing the kilt off-centre: every kilt has a clear centre point that splits to flat front apron perfectly in half. This should cut you in half also! The kilt is sitting visually in the correctly place when this line in the tartan aligns with your belly button also. Wearing the kilt off centre a) looks messy, seriously it does and b) means the fringe sits in the wrong place and consequently the pleats don't start and finish in the most flattering place.

- Wearing the kilt pin through both aprons: the kilt pin is a weight - it holds the front apron only down to prevent is flapping around in the wind or while walking. If you pin the kilt pin through all the layers, right the way through the under apron too, the kilt will bunch up and not hang or swing correctly.

- Wearing the kilt too high at the front or to high at the back: the kilt can ride up at the front or ride up instead at the back meaning it doesn't sit perfectly parallel with the floor. Larger gents may find the kilt is inclined to ride up at the front meaning the pleats hang down too low at the back and slimmer gents may find the kilt wants to ride up at the back causing the aprons to droop at the front. Ensuring the kilt is worn tightly around the natural waist and pulling the kilt down back into postion if it does start to ride up anywhere is important.


How Not To Wear Highlandwear

So, you've now got your kilt on perfectly and can identify where you may need to adjust the kilt so it sits perfectly. Now it's time to put on the rest of your outfit!

This video will give you an insight into common mistakes made when wearing highlandwear as a whole and how to avoid them...

- Wearing the socks too low: this creates a big gap between the bottom of the kilt at the mid knee and the top of the socks...we don't need that much knee! There should on be around 2 inches from the bottom of the kilt to the top of the socks to create the perfect proportions for this part of the outfit.

- Incorrect flashes and laces: the flashes should sit on the outsides of the calves, now the front. And your should tie your ghillie brogues fairly close to your ankles - this prevents them falling down as you walk (a "how to tie your ghillie brogues" guide follows on this page.

- Too much sgian dubh: we know guys love to show off their sgian dubhs...but keep it in yer socks! Only an inch of the handle should be visible outwith the sock and you wear this part of the outfit in the sock of your writing hand.

- Sporran height: sporrans are often wrong worn too high or too low - you don't want to wear your sporran like a tourists bum bag up against the waistcoat, nor do you want it bashing against your knees as you walk. Use the last button of the waistcoat of the waistband of the kilt as a guide, using your hand to measure one handspan down from either of these markers - this is the perfect place for the top of your sporran to go.

- Wearing a waistcoat that's a wee bit short: as tailoring trends get slimmer, watch out for waistcoats that are too short and tight to be worn with your kilt. They can ride up creating a gap between the kilt and the bottom of the waistcoat, revealing shirt which looks messy.

- Wearing the socks too long: another common mistake is wearing your socks too high leaving hardly any gap between the bottom of the kilt and the top of the socks (this is only gonna make you look shorter guys...). Again, that magical 2 inches is what we are ideally looking for between the two and this is always more important than cold knees.

- Wearing a belt with a waistcoat: JUST DON'T DO IT. It's unnecessary, it's outdated and it looks a midden (that's Scot's for "a pure mess"). If you are wearing just a shirt with your kilt, by all means go for a belt to nicely break the look up a bit.


How To Tie Ghillie Brogues

There's a really knack to tying ghillie brogues and the following video aims to give you a step by step guide on how to tie them securely and neatly.

A common mistake people make is tying them way to high up the leg and spending the rest of the party constantly tying their shoe laces - not with our method!
Take a look...

1) Sizing is important, we recommend going a half size down for ghillie brogues as, due to the lack of tongue, they tend to feel quite wide.

2) Start by twisting (not knotting) the laces four times around each other.

3) Keeping close to the ankle pull the laces to the back of the ankle and twist them around each other twice - keep low and close to the ankle, the further up the leg you travel the more the laces are likely to fall down).

4) Bring the laces to the front again and create a cross.

4) Finally tie the laces on the outside of the leg. Make a double knot as you would your brogues or trainers normally.