If you are getting married, attending a wedding or are invited to an event, be it formal, semi-formal or casual, you always have the option of wearing a kilt outfit to the event.
Picking the right kilt, tartan, jacket style and accessories can seem daunting at first. Do you need all the accessories? Where does each of them go? Does this tartan go with that jacket colour? These are questions we get asked on a daily basis, so this guide will help you make an informed decision as to what outfit to wear.
Should I hire or buy a kilt outfit?
The first thought should be whether to hire or to buy the outfit. If you have a few events coming up over the next couple of years, we would usually recommend buying your outfit. The main advantage of buying versus hiring multiple times over the years would be price, as hiring a few times can end up being more expensive than buying an outfit. Another advantage is that kilt outfits will last a lifetime and could be in your family for generations. How many items of clothing in your wardrobe can you say that about? It really is a long-term investment.
Buying your outfit also opens up the number of tartans and jacket styles you can wear. In our hire range, we have a set stock of tartans and jacket styles, whereas when you buy, you have the choice of over 4,000 tartans and many more jacket styles, including the ability to design your own jacket within our Signature Package.
Our Signature Collection is the best package to go for if you are looking for a completely bespoke outfit. The Signature Package allows you to completely customise your jacket and waistcoat, working closely with our Signature Stylist to design each element and create your perfect jacket and waistcoat.
We do also have plenty of customers who know they have lots of events coming up, but prefer to hire as it means they can change their outfit for each event, refreshing their style every time.
So there are advantages to both hiring and buying a kilt outfit.
What kilt outfit should I wear to my event?
Factors such as the dress-code on an invitation/ticket will help you decide which kilt outfit to wear, but when it comes to kilts, there is no right or wrong answer nowadays. With so many varieties of outfits on show at Scottish weddings and events, you can now wear what you like, without worrying about the style or fitting in.
What is a casual kilt outfit?
A casual kilt outfit would be an outfit worn to a rugby game or sporting events. Good examples of a casual outfit would be an Ex-Hire Kilt or 5 Yard Kilt, worn with kilt socks, boots and a Ghillie shirt or casual shirt or jumper.
These outfits are usually inexpensive to buy with Ex-Hire Kilts priced at £169 and 5 Yard Kilts priced at £225.
The Ghillie shirt (or Jacobean shirt) offers a more relaxed style, with an open neck and no tie worn with the shirt. This is definitely one of the more casual outfits to wear, but is ideal for outdoor weddings, casual summer events or even when you go abroad to warmer climates.
This would also be appropriate to wear during the evening part of an event, after dinner or food, many people change into Ghillie shirts to enjoy ceilidh dancing or the more relaxed section of the night.
What kilt outfit should I wear to a formal event?
20 years ago, the answer would have been the Prince Charlie Outfit.
Traditionally, the Prince Charlie jacket and 3 button waistcoat was the go-to jacket and waistcoat style worn to formal events. This is the tuxedo of kilt outfits.
It has tails at the back, stain lapels at the front, epaulettes at the shoulders, a 3 button set cuff and a 3 button waistcoat. Black is the traditional formal colour, but navy, green and other colours are available.
Worn with the Prince Charlie is a wing shirt and bow tie. The bow tie can match the colour of the jacket (mainly black) or can match the tartan of your kilt. You would not normally wear a belt and buckle with the Prince Charlie jacket as the waistcoat would obscure it from site. For etiquette, a full dress sporran with cantle should be worn with the Prince Charlie jacket. Ghillie brogues (traditionally black) would also be worn with a set of cream kilt hose and matching tartan flashes. We would advise against white kilt hose as these are usually reserved for pipers.
Now there are many more formal outfits you can choose from
In recent times however, the traditional Prince Charlie jacket has been overtaken in popularity by contemporary and custom styles.
More grooms, wedding guests and formal event attendees are wearing tweed jackets and waistcoats to their events than the Prince Charlie jacket. Tweed jackets were traditionally seen as a semi-formal style, but with the addition of a 5 button tweed waistcoat and a change in traditional accessories, it all adds to the formality of the outfit.
We have a large range of tweed jacket options including two navy, light grey, dark grey, green, blue and brown tweeds to choose from. These jackets are perfect for pairing with most tartans and are now seen as formal wear.
The tweed jacket and 5 button waistcoat gives you more options of neckwear, with the availability of a bow tie, ruche tie and tartan tie being available. You can also wear a full dress sporran with a tweed jacket, again, adding to the formality of the outfit.
Can I dress down a kilt outfit?
Traditionally this would be when wearing an Argyll jacket, without a waistcoat. It still has many traditional features such as gauntlet cuffs on the sleeves, epaulettes on the shoulders and buttons on the front pockets. The jacket is longer in length than the Prince Charlie and therefore looks more like a suit style of jacket. The addition of a belt and buckle makes the outfit less formal. For semi-formal outfits, Ghillie brogues are still the choice of the majority, but other styles are available including brown, or plain brogues for a less formal feel. These jackets can also be worn with day or semi-dress sporrans, which again, takes away some of the formality of the outfit.
Should I wear a plaid over my shoulder?
Yes, if you are the Groom at a wedding, but otherwise, we recommend to leave this piece of clothing to the main person at the event. Sometimes we see the best men and fathers of the bride and groom wearing plaids, but only when the Groom is wearing one.
What tartan should I wear to my event?
Another regular question we get asked is “will I offend anyone by wearing this tartan”. You absolutely won’t and if anything, it’s a sign of respect. There is only one tartan you are not actually allowed to wear, which is the Queen's Tartan, unless of course you get permission from her first. If you are very worried about this, you could wear a Blackwatch tartan, Scottish National or even one of our own Mist range of tartans, which are universal and can be worn by anyone.
What about kilt accessories?
There are several different ways to style your kilt outfit formally or semi-formally and to start, we offer a range of shirt and tie options. A traditional cravat tie comes in a variety of colours and can be worn with either a white or black swept shirt. Ruche-style ties are quite a traditional choice for weddings and should be worn with a Victorian shirt. Shirt colour is important with black being seen as slightly more casual and modern.
Wing collar shirts go with bow-ties and are a formal style, however straight ties (which are more on-trend) should be worn with a standard collar shirt and add to the formality and modern style of a kilt outfit.
Tartan bow ties have also become increasingly popular and are a quirky twist on a classic design.
The sporran is the small bag that attaches to a chain strap and is worn around the waist of the kilt. It is important as dress sporrans should be worn to formal events and day/semi-dress sporrans to casual events.
The kilt belt and buckle can be worn to semi-formal events, but without a waistcoat. The buckles come in many styles and can be traditionally plain and very extravagant and stylish depending on your taste and how much you would like the buckle to stand out.
Socks and flashes can also be seen as formal and semi-formal. Black socks are a more modern style, possibly suited more to semi-formal events and cream socks are worn formally.
Sgian Dubhs can also be formal and semi-formal, with silver showing formality and day/wooden Sgian Dubhs being more informal, but modern in design.
It is the same with kilt pins. This is the small metal piece added to the bottom right of the kilt, originally used to stop kilts from blowing up, but nowadays is used for style. Brown kilts pins create a contemporary/modern style informal and silver kilt pins for a more formal/traditional outfit.