The kilt

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  • Two Highland dancers, wearing kilts, at the Gathering, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh
    Two Highland dancers at the Gathering, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh
  • Howie Nicholsby of 21st Century Kilts on Castlehill, Edinburgh
    Howie Nicholsby of 21st Century Kilts on Castlehill, Edinburgh
  • Close up of kilts at a clan parade on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh
    A clan parade on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh
  • A pipe band practising at the World Pipe Band Championships, Glasgow Green
    A pipe band at the World Pipe Band Championships, Glasgow Green

Uncover the history of this fantastic piece of clothing from its early origin in the Highlands to a stylish fashion statement for the aristocracy and the moderns kilts of today.

The famous Scottish kilt originated in the Highlands as an untailored, 5 metre-long piece of cloth that was belted at the waist and known as the féileadh mor in Gaelic, meaning the ‘big kilt’.

From the waist down, the féileadh mor resembled a modern kilt while the remaining material above the waist was draped over the shoulder and pinned. This upper portion could be arranged in a variety of ways around the shoulders according to the demands of weather, temperature or freedom of movement required.

At the end of day, the belt could be unbuckled to transform the féileadh mor into a warm covering for the night - the Gaelic word ‘plaid’ actually means 'blanket'.

Over time, the design evolved to become more practical and the pleated, skirt-like garment that we know today was created in the mid 18th century. It grew in popularity after being chosen by Highland regiments serving with the British Army and it quickly became sought after south of the border as the British aristocracy considered all things Scottish a fashion statement.

Today the kilt is still worn at special occasions including weddings, Highland games and at traditional Scottish ceilidh dances. Men also frequently choose to wear their clan tartan, giving them a sense of belonging which has passed through generations.

Fashion designers have also tried to update the kilt and make it appeal to a wider audience by using non-tartan designs such as camouflage and material such as leather.

Why not pay a visit to the Tartan Weaving Mill in Edinburgh and see how a kilt is made or purchase a unique kilt for yourself, designed at 21st Century Kilts to take home with you? Kinloch Anderson offers an extensive range of kilts and evening wear and you can also visit the Heritage Room Museum to see the history of the family over 140 years.

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