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Grooms Outfit - The Scottish Kilt

highland dress

The kilt makes us think of Scotland, haggis, caber tossing, bonny Prince Charlie and wanting to know if the wearer really does brave the cold!

Men who wear and carry kilts well can look smart, sophisticated and quite sexy in their own way and more grooms than ever are taking to wearing the full highland regalia on their wedding days.

With hire shops offering reasonable charges the kilt is fast becoming the only national dress to be worn in almost any country worldwide.

It is not, however, a case of picking a kilt to wear with just any shirt and tie but more of careful choosing on which accessories to use and how to wear them to obtain that truly traditional look.

In this article we look a the fèileadh beag or philabeg (also known as the 'small kilt'), which is worn from the waist. Originally men from the Highlands would have worn the the Breacan an Fhéilidh or Féileadh Mòr (also known as the 'great kilt') which forms a cloak and a belted plaid (the earliest form of the kilt) all made from a single peice of wool.

For more information about the history, read The Visit Scotland website >>

Highland Jackets

There are a variety of jackets that you can choose to wear as part of you scottish wedding outfit, here are a few outlined.

Prince Charlie

This jacket is considered the last word in sophisticated highland attire and is tailored to accentuate the kilt giving a formal yet elegant look that is suitable for any occasion such as weddings, burns nights, film premiers and dinner dances.

This timelessly stylish jacket is cut slightly higher than other jackets and is designed to flatter any shape.

This black formal jacket with tails behind and a short front has one outside breast pocket, two inside breast pockets and silk lapels and is traditionally worn with a white shirt and black or tartan bowtie but many grooms today are foregoing the traditional look and have started to introduce coloured cravats.

The braided epaulettes and chrome buttons on the front and sleeves of the jacket combine together and match up with the waistcoat. The 3 buttons on the waistcoat are closed while the jacket remains unbuttoned.

The Prince Charlie jacket is worn with an eight yard kilt, white socks and Ghillie brogues and a full dress sporran.  Belts are not worn with kilts when wearing this jacket because the buckle does not allow the waistcoat to sit as snug as it should and causes the waistcoat to rise up.



Argyle Jacket

This is the most versatile of the jackets and is considered more semi-formal and casual.  It can be worn with or without a waistcoat and comes in a variety of colours.

The Argyle jacket has a more relaxed appearance than its Prince Charlie counterpart but still retains the formal look of highland regalia and is very popular at weddings worldwide.

This black single breasted jacket with gauntlet cuffs and silver buttons is considered semi-formal wear and can be worn for daywear or semi-formal evening occasions.

Tweed versions in various colours are also available and worn typically with a standard white dress shirt and tie.

argyle jacket


Jacobite Shirts

An ideal shirt for a summer wedding while still retaining the smart and casual look.  This shirt is made to be worn with no jacket, tie or waistcoat and has no buttons.  It is slipped over the head and features an open collar with leather drawstring fed through three eyelets on either side which cross over before trailing down to hang in the middle of the shirt.

Although no neckwear is worn with the Jacobite shirt for those that feel the wearing of just a shirt is not quite enough you can add the finishing touches by wearing a lowlander vest which is a straight cut waistcoat with featured epaulets and two silver buttons just above the hem and worn open; lace cuffs can be stitched or sewn on.

These rugged comfortable shirts are available in different colours and are ideal for those all day weddings where the male members of the wedding party  wear Prince Charlie or Argyle jackets during the day and can relax more by slipping into a more casual shirt for the evening reception while still retaining that smart and casual look.

jacobite shirt


Montrose Doublet

The Doublet is a close fitted, double breasted jacket usually seen on very formal full dress occasions (normally reserved for just the Groom or father of the Groom at weddings).  The Montrose Doublet is usually worn with a lace jabot and fly plaids on the shoulders and because it comes only to the waist a belt can also be worn.

Sheriffmuir Doublet

This jacket is another formal option likened to the Prince Charlie or Montrose and has what is known as "Inverness Flaps" extending off the sides from the waist.  A shirt, vest, lace jabot and cuffs are typically worn with the Sheriffmuir.  To complete the 'full dress' look a fly plaid is generally worn with this old-fashioned jacket and is usually made in velvet.

montrose Sheriffmuir

Kilt Underwear

That age old question regarding underwear when wearing a kilt can be entirely up to the individual wearer, the weather or whatever occasion it is worn for.

Traditionally a true Scotsman believes it's his own business and most will never tell!  Sentences such as, "Nothing is worn under the kilt. It's all in perfect working order" or hints such as 'That's for me to know and you to find out" may be used when the kilt wearer is asked that eternal question!

Many kilt wearers  do indeed go 'commando' preferring the feeling of freedom it gives and for those more sensitive they will be happy to  know that its equally traditional to wear underwear or shorts - more so when being active or venturing outside in blustery weather.

Kilt Pins

The kilt pin was introduced by Queen Victoria and there are two stories that lay claim to the wearing of the pin.  The first is where she took pity on a young soldier who appeared somewhat nervous of standing around in high winds and had no way of protecting his modesty. The second story is that the Queen herself used her hat pin to secure her own kilted skirt on a blustery day.  Whichever is the true story it was from that day the Queen decreed all military kits were to have some means of fastening the highland kilt.

The kilt pin when worn should be on the right hand side of the kilt placed about 4 inches from the bottom and 2 inches from the side fringe.

Family and clan crests are used by those with true tartan connections and the kilt pin can be purchased made from solid pewter to sterling silver or wood or commissioned for that very special day for a kilt wearing groom and/or best man.

Sgain Dubh (Black Knife)

The name 'black knife' is thought to have come from the colour of the handle or suggestions of 'black' means hidden or secret in the Gaelic language which would tie in with the banning by the government for Highlanders to carry weapons.  The Sgain Dubh was used as a form of defence or surprise when attacking and replacing the wearing of a small knife held underneath the armpit hundreds of years ago.

The Sgain Dubh is worn normally in the right sock with just the handle showing.  Knives were once concealed underneath the armpit but as a form of courtesy it is now on display.  The cutting of the haggis at Burns Suppers is now the only time this 6" sheath knife is used and is part of the highland dress purely as ornamental.

Blunted and plastic imitations are used today but authentic and quality steeled bladed Sgain Dubh's can still be ordered and worn - it's entirely a matter of tastes.


sporanBecause kilts have no pockets a sporran was once an everyday practical item worn from a chain that extends through the loops around the waist and hangs a few inches below the waistcoat to sit over the groin area. With lightweight tartans the wearing of a sporran can also protect the wearer's modesty.

A sporran can be used to hold a wallet or other personal items a groom feels he needs to have on his person. 

Made from fur or leather today's sporran can be as simple or as highly decorative as the wearer chooses and custom made ones are easily available.  From the Highland thistle full dress sporran to the Celtic embossed studded semi dress sporrans there are hundreds of designs to choose from.

There are generally three types of sporrans as in the 'daywear', the 'semi-dress' and the 'full dress' sporran.  Over recent years we have seen the appearance of the 'fun' sporran that can be worn on a much casual basis.

Additional Grooms Highland Outfit Accessories

As well as your kilt, shirt, jacket and sporran there are a number of other accessories that come together to complete the grooms highland wedding outfit.

Belts and Buckles

Traditional Scottish belt buckles are cast from 100% pure pewter with leather belts. They can be plain, have a family crest or military design depending on which jacket is worn.

Ghillie Brogues

These are a type of shoe with laces along the instep and no tongue.  Originally used because having no tongue it would drain water, dry quickly and not get stuck in the mud because the laces were above the ankle.  Rabbit skin lining and a pattern from the 17th century using flexible leather that hugs the foot is used today purely for social use and Scottish dancers. 

There are different brands of brogues available which differ in weight as well as the cut of the shoe.

When buying your brogues its best to try on a few pairs and remember to check if the soles are glued or stitched because of weather reasons.  Stitched soles are more compatible for extreme hot or wet conditions while glued on soles are really only adequate to wear in mild weather.

Tying your Brogues

Once foot is inside the brogue hold each end of the laces one in each hand, cross over the laces pulling firmly but gentle across each pair of eyelets before pulling the laces into a simple knot.

Twist three times to create a vertical thong before passing the laces around the back of the ankle at a height of approximately two inches and then bring the laces to the front where a normal bow is tied. 

What is left of the ends of the laces and toggles is left to hang down at the front.

If you find you have too much lace left, start again and wrap twice around the ankle.

As with anything else that is new, practise makes perfect and after a while you will learn if you have done your laces too tight or too loose.


Flashes are small pieces of decorative material in the same pattern as the kilt tucked into the overturn part of the socks (hose).

Hose (Socks)

The hose can be in cream, black or grey and depending on which outfit is worn and what time of the day/evening can be knee or ankle length.

Different Times to Wear Different Outfits

scottish outfitIt's not just a matter of putting on the full Highland attire and looking good - the traditional wearing of the kilt and all accessories also depends on what time of the day/night it is to be worn.

Broken down there are three different styles depending on day wear, semi-formal and evening wear, so always double check with your hire shop about which attire should be worn at whatever time.

How Kilts Were Once Worn

The owner would first place his leather belt on the ground and place the material lengthways over it.  Taking his time he would systematically plait it in the middle over the belt until all of the material except for the two pieces that would cover the front of the body by overlapping each other.  He would then lie down on top of the belt and material which he then folded over each end to the front of his body till they overlapped each other. 

The belt was then firmly bound round the loins in such a manner that the lower side fell down to the middle of the knee joint - this part would then be fastened onto the left shoulder with a large pin or brooch. 

Because of the sometimes harsh and cruel Highland climate and terrain the 'belted plaid' had many advantages for the wearer.  It was warm and allowed freedom of movement and made from very tightly woven wool it proved to be almost completely waterproof and dried out quickly.

By undoing the belt the 'belted plaid' could be used as a very adequate overnight blanketing and during a battle it was easily discarded and given the 'brave-heart fighter' more freedom of action. 

This piece of cloth that comes from the Scottish word meaning 'to tuck up the clothes around the body' has for many generations been used in battles and has been a vital form of protection.

Tartan kilts are proudly worn by those with clan and family tartan connections and many wearers' today may use them purely for decorative purposes but worldwide this Highland attire is seen by many to be a romantic, rugged, elegant and sophisticated look and nevermore so on the man of her dreams as she walks down that aisle to exchange their vows.